What does Richard Gomez have to offer Bulacan as Governor?
HIGH GROUND By William M. Esposo
Inq7.net 2006-09-10
THE word is out—Richard “Goma” Gomez of showbiz—plans to run as governor of Bulacan, one of the country’s most progressive provinces. The current governor, Josie de la Cruz has completed her third term, the maximum allowed under the constitution.

The closest I have seen Goma to be involved in politics was when he played the role of now Senator Serge Osmena in the movie “Eskapo”—which depicted the dramatic escape of the late Geny Lopez and Serge from detention under Marcos during martial law. Outside of that movie, I am not aware of Gomez ever holding public office, not even as administrator of a small municipality.

In the same vein, I am also not aware of Goma’s academic credentials that would qualify him to be governor of Bulacan. The best that I’ve heard about Gomez from a common friend is that he seems to run his business well.

Let’s put all these in perspective first by reviewing just what kind of a province Bulacan is. According to the latest available data on Bulacan province, as of 2002, the province of Bulacan has registered very impressive accomplishments.

Bulacan has the highest population growth in the country. Per the official Bulacan provincial report, “the population growth rate increased to 4.98 percent by year 2000. The continued increase in the province’s population in the past 15 years may not be only attributed to natural increase but also as a result of the influx of migrants from various points of origin. In addition, Bulacan has become a receiver of population from the Northern provinces.” Migration underscores the presence of economic opportunities. “

The same report gave Bulacan the highest ranking in terms of “Human Development Index (HDI), a measure of how a province has performed, not only in terms of real income growth but also in terms of social indicators of the people’s ability to lead a long and healthy life, to acquire knowledge and skills and to have access to the resources needed to afford a decent standard of living. It is the simple average of the life expectancy, educational attainment index and the real per capita income index. In 2000, Bulacan enjoyed the highest HDI at 0.760. It rose to the top rank in 2000 from ranking fourth in 1994 and 1997 and also recorded the biggest growth from 1997 to 2000 at 8.3%.”

The report further records the “Province of Bulacan with the highest employment figure in the region for the period of five years. In 1995, Bulacan had 668,755 employed who were engaged in various income generating activities. As compared with the 1990 employment scenario, the province in 1995 grew by 41 percent also the highest percent increase among the six provinces of Central Luzon. Based on the National Statistics projection, by the year 2007, Bulacan will almost double its employment figure to 1,315,978 or an increase of 647,223. Bulacan’s employment rate was 91.8 percent, which is 2.60 percent higher than that of the region and 2.00 percent higher than that of the country.”

The industry sector of Bulacan consists of manufacturing, construction, electricity, gas and water and mining, accounting for 30% of the province’s labor force. Agriculture is only 10 percent of the total employment in Bulacan—thus showing a wide economic base.

Bulacan has the lowest poverty incidence among the 77 provinces and is ranked third in the national level including the four districts of NCR.

In terms of family income and expenditures, the current price estimates indicate an improvement of income in the region with Bulacan registering more than half percentage increase (51.6%) from 1997. In the region, in terms of inflation adjusted measurement, only Zambales and Bulacan experienced gains in average savings with increases of 48.6% and 27% respectively from 1997 to 2000.

In terms of literacy, the report states that “Bulacan has a high literacy rate of 98.33%, meaning 2.23 million of the population are literate. Large-scale exposure to media enhances communication skills and marketing reach. The province has highly educated, highly trainable workforce, highly skilled craftsmen, designed oriented and entrepreneurial skilled people.”

The language used in the province is predominantly Tagalog. Most of the people in Bulacan can speak English. Other dialects used by the town folks are Waray, Ilocano, Bicolano and Kapampangan.

Obviously, Bulacan Province is no disaster zone that is looking for a “hero” to rescue it. The people of Bulacan have more than the usual reasons than most Filipinos to be considered a happy people. So what exactly is Richard Gomez thinking by running for Bulacan governor?

We can easily see why Quezon City mayor Sonny Belmonte is such a super success—in fact Sonny is my top of the list of who should be our next president—when we check what Sonny has accomplished before he became Quezon City mayor. Outside of Goma’s movies and fencing activities, what does he have to offer by way of credentials and qualifications to be entrusted the governorship of one of the bright spots of the country?

I am willing to give Goma the benefit of the doubt that he may have noble and patriotic intentions in desiring to be Bulacan governor just as I did not question FPJ’s reputation for kindness and humanity when he ran for president. But good intentions are not good enough. There are millions of Filipinos out there also with good intentions but not all of them can be entrusted with the local government leadership of Quezon City or Bulacan Province and expect that they will deliver like a Sonny Belmonte or a Josie de la Cruz.

Joseph Estrada at least had the decency to present credentials to back his aspiration to be president. Estrada became the mayor of San Juan and in fact made a good impression on San Juan residents as mayor which is why he was always re-elected to that post. He then became a Senator and Vice President. It is tragic how Estrada turned out to be a disappointment to the masses that pinned its hopes on him for economic relief.

FPJ had more popularity and current fame at that when he ran for president in 2004. But his presidential campaign did not have the excitement of the Estrada 1998 candidacy because FPJ lacked the bona fides to be considered as fit to be president. Richard Gomez finds himself in the same category as FPJ. He just does not have the qualifications and track record to be seriously considered as replacement for an excellent governor of a performing province like Bulacan.

Goma’s popularity and whatever promise of public service may be acceptable if he is to run for councilor of a major Bulacan town or even mayor of a small Bulacan municipality. But from the movie and television screen to such a high office as Bulacan governor—Goma is way out of his league.

Popularity does not account for qualifications to public office. Popularity as political capital for public office sans qualifications is just another side of the exploitation coin that we associate with our traditional politicians.

You may email William M. Esposo at: macesposo@yahoo.com

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