A great hope emerges for 2008
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-01-01
Joseph “Erap” Estrada may well have been affected by your Chair Wrecker’s November 8, 2007 column — How Erap missed his moment of greatness.

In that column, I wrote:

“When Joseph Estrada became president in 1998, his biggest contribution to Philippine history would have been the bridging of that information gap. He captured the hearts and minds of the masses, the one sector that is mostly in the dark and most exploited.

Estrada did not need the magic formulas wielded by China’s Deng or Singapore’s Lee. He did not even need to forge any great diplomatic initiative to market the Philippines.

Estrada’s communications skills were all he needed in order to be great.

The only thing Estrada needed to do to surpass all other presidents before him was to make the Filipino understand his condition and realize his role in making Philippine democracy work.

Dole outs and the other attributes of patronage politics do not address the problem of wealth disparity. Instead of fostering dependency on dole outs, the truly great national leaders engender enlightenment that promotes self-help and initiative.

Estrada’s greatness lies in his inherent charm and charisma which endears him to the suffering masses. He has what it takes to inspire and empower poor Filipinos to do what is necessary for them to be able to take control of their own destiny. This, in contrast to leadership dictated by the self-serving machinations of the power elite. 

However, instead of providing enlightenment, Estrada allowed himself to be distracted by the trappings of power. His “Erap para sa mahirap” (Erap for the poor) was a slogan that raised hopes but in the end, it rang empty and remained a promise waiting to be fulfilled.

Just last weekend, Estrada brought a medical mission to a depressed Manila community. That’s your typical politician giving the poor a fish for the day instead of taking time to teach his people how to fish.

If Estrada focused on emancipating the poor, he will not miss the opportunity of creating a greater impact by establishing an alliance with Gawad Kalinga (GK). GK has liberated depressed communities and snapped the generational cycle of poverty of the poor by addressing the problem at its very core — the need to reform their values and restore their dignity.

But have we ever heard of Joseph Estrada espousing values such as those fostered by the Gawad Kalinga’s people-oriented pro-active formula for deliverance from poverty? Has he ever been to any GK site and related with the GK beneficiaries? Has anyone ever heard of Joseph Estrada providing insights on how to really win the war against poverty the way GK’s Tony Meloto has done it all these years?

The Focolare’s Economy of Communion (EoC) espoused that only the poor can help themselves — but not alone. It is the mission of the enlightened leader to help the poor help themselves. How come Joseph Estrada, the man who would champion the emancipation of the Filipino poor, does not espouse principles like the EoC?”

Erap now poised to partner with GK

Well, last December 25, Estrada was quoted by ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol that he was looking forward to developing a partnership with Gawad Kalinga. Two weeks earlier, close friends in GK told me that this partnership in development was initiated by Estrada himself.

We should rejoice for both Joseph Estrada and GK. The projected Erap and GK synergy should accelerate the fulfillment of the GK mission. Let’s hope that Estrada internalizes the deeper Christian values that propel GK, values that will make him a better person, a better Filipino and a better Christian.

This partnership with GK could be a major development in the political career of Joseph Estrada. This is where Estrada can really redeem himself after failing the country’s poor when he allowed himself to be inebriated by the dazzling temptations that come with power. Erap’s poor are the very same folks who have supported his movies and political career.

Erap’s arch-rival — Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) — is not wanting in partnering with GK. To her credit, GMA has long been a GK supporter. I would like to think that her support goes beyond the political mileage that association with GK delivers — that it’s spurred by recognition of the tremendous impact GK has in addressing our poverty problem.

If Erap and GMA can truly channel their energies towards developing GK communities, then we can really look forward to 2008 as a banner year for the country. Erap and GMA partnering in GK essentially fulfills the advocacy of the Movement for Unity in Politics of the Focolare — that politics, if dedicated to real public service, can be the noblest profession.

GK is the perfect common ground where politicians who are seeking to accomplish a greater mission can get together for the benefit of the people they’ve vowed to serve. In GK, we have common ground to do good and create winners of us all, a nation rising above its own weaknesses.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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