The unraveling of Chiz Escudero
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-11-01

Legendary Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson once described a ‘young once’ politician as “so young and so corrupt.” In those days, our society still harbored illusions that the youth were idealistic, innocent and generally incorruptible.

These days we know better. In fact, many of the criminals we now see being charged are young and their crimes range from petty theft, robbery, rape, drug dealing and murder. Among our crooked public officials, there are young crooks and older crooks. The sons of plunderers have also taken to following in the footsteps of their fathers.

Young crooks no longer surprise us. What is surprising is why old crooks, who could be meeting their Maker soon, still remain crooked when they should be trying to build up on merits and reducing their demerits. Ninoy Aquino’s former cell mate, Nap Rama, is right when he once told your Chair Wrecker that crookedness tends to develop into a mania and the crook becomes incapable of curing the disease.

When now neither-here-nor-there presidential wannabe Chiz Escudero bolted the NPC (Nationalist People’s Coalition) Party, which had provided him a political base for over a decade, your Chair Wrecker just could not accept his rationale for doing so. There is so much more to this than what Chiz Escudero has said. To a veteran political watcher, what he said reeked of classic bovine ordure.

To understand how your Chair Wrecker reacted that way, you need to appreciate the conflicting actions and statements of Chiz Escudero. That he is glib and eloquent we can easily accept. That he was being honest about the real reasons why he suddenly junked his party of over a decade, now that we find hard to totally believe.

“Ang partido lamang dapat niya ay Pilipinas at ang kanyang mga kapartido ay lahat ng Pilipino (His party should only be the Philippines and his partymates the Filipino people),” the STAR October 29 news story quoted Escudero as he described the supposed ideal presidential candidate.

Now that is bovine ordure. It is a non-sequitur disguised as a motherhood statement.

A political party per se is simply a political mechanism. It is there to enable like-minded people to pursue a political goal. A political party is neither good nor bad but becomes good or bad depending on what the members do after they get into power.

The political party is no different from a public transport vehicle. If the vehicle gets the commuters to their desired destination in the safest, most comfortable and cost efficient manner — then it is a good public transport vehicle. If the public transport vehicle gets the commuters injured or killed by the reckless imprudence of its driver or the poor maintenance of the vehicle, then it is a bad transport vehicle.

For his second reason for bolting the NPC, Escudero said that “sino mang tumatakbo, o tatakbo o magiging pangulo ng ating bansa, hindi po pwedeng nakakadena ang kamay at paa sa partido (whoever is running for president, his hands and feet cannot be chained to a party).”

He added: “Para po sa akin, hindi dapat idikta ng isang partido ang gagawin ng sino mang tatakbo. Dahil kung ganoon, paano niya mapapanagot ang mga tiwali sa gobyerno kung ito ay kagrupo o kasama niya.” (As for me, the party should not dictate what the presidential candidate should do. If that is the case, how can he as president make the crooks in government accountable if some of these are his partymates.)

Don’t you sense duplicity in that statement? First of all, if Escudero thinks that there are crooks in the NPC who are involved in the anomalies in the present government, then how come he did not leave the party earlier, denounce these crooks and formally join the Opposition? Or form a new Opposition party if he is uncomfortable with the other Opposition parties? If Escudero is indeed that righteous, why is he suggesting only now that he was in the company of crooks in the NPC?

He could have made a clean break from the NPC when he ran for Senator in 2007 as an Opposition candidate but he did not. Kiko Pangilinan made that transition, ran as an independent and won. So, why did Escudero avail of NPC support in 2007 while banking on the favorable public sentiment for the Opposition? Is that not what opportunism is all about?

How does Chiz Escudero justify the suggestion that the NPC bosses are dictating to him when it is a matter of record that NPC big boss Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. has been a steady administration supporter while Escudero has been very vocal against the administration? In fact, Escudero has been leading the impeachment charges and investigations against incumbent Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA).

Escudero’s leading role in the Opposition belies his own claims of being stifled by the NPC bosses. On the contrary, it shows that the NPC is quite tolerant and allows its members to hold different views and advocacies.

What Chiz Escudero did in bolting from the NPC is not what is called new politics. Far from it, it is quintessentially opportunistic and duplicitous old politics, only glibly and eloquently expressed. The youth whom Escudero is trying to establish as his political base should see through the real politics of this man posturing as their messiah of sorts.

Escudero’s promise of “new change” (bagong pagbabago — a redundancy), as seen in his TV commercials, is neither new nor change. It has the odor of old politics and the status quo.

The various delays in Escudero’s formal announcement to run for president, Senator Loren Legarda’s mysterious announcement confirming that she is dead set to run for vice president but was tentative about a tandem with Escudero, the mixed signals coming from the NPC — all tend to indicate that something irregular was brewing in Danding Cojuangco’s party.

Over a month ago, two reliable sources told your Chair Wrecker that NPC big boss Danding Cojuangco is not keen on funding Chiz Escudero. The STAR ran an October 22 story written by Delon Porcalla which attributed the same information to a close associate of Danding Cojuangco.

That September 18-21 SWS nationwide survey (with Noynoy Aquino doing 60% and 51% in multiple choices and single choice surveys, respectively, versus 15% and 8% for Escudero) must have influenced Danding Cojuangco’s decision. If Danding Cojuangco was uncomfortable with Escudero to begin with, then that SWS survey would have easily played the role of the proverbial final straw that broke the camel’s back.

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