There is hope after all
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-03-18
This political text joke is one of the best I’ve received: "St. Peter asked the Lord why the Philippines was spared from the devastating effects of the 2004 Asian Tsunami. The Good Lord said that an even worse fate has already befallen the Filipinos. They have a "TSUNANO!"

"TSUNANO" is a play on the Filipino word "unano" which means dwarf. Tsunano cleverly alludes to the little woman with a huge penchant for creating political tsunamis — Madame Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA).

People and governments clean up in the wake of the most devastating storms but our disasters are man-made and with traditional politicians and showbiz characters swarming like vultures waiting to feed on the weaknesses of our democracy, it is hard to think we can have blue skies again.

But I am only too happy to be able to spot some hint of light in the horizon, thanks to a few good leaders who seem to be gaining the recognition and respect they have earned. These encouraging political developments are:

1. The recent announcement that Quezon City Mayor Sonny Belmonte will likely run unopposed. This is testimony to a man who holds one of the finest track records in public service.

2. Likewise, the recent announcement that Marikina Mayor Marides Fernando will also run unopposed for the same reasons as Sonny Belmonte — no potential rival feels that the voters in Marikina will prefer anyone else.

3. The better-than-expected showing of Sonia Roco in the SWS February 24-27 survey and the Pulse Asia February 28 — March 5 survey where she ranked 16th and 15th, respectively. Pulse Asia, in fact, placed Sonia within the top 12 when the margin of error is factored.

4. The topping of the SWS February 24 ‑ 27 Survey by Kiko Pangilinan who stood his ground on running as an independent.

Seeds of democratic awakening

In all four instances, there is strong basis to conclude that a democratic awakening of sorts may be in the offing. In all four instances, we can see our people being able to discern and appreciate strong and effective leadership.

Sonny Belmonte and Marides Fernando represent hands-on and solid good governance. They did not need guns, goons or gold to win people’s hearts and support. Instead they showed that performance, not empty braggadocio wins elections. What a contrast to Mike Defensor’s profuse bravado and promises which will put any megalomaniac to shame.

The voters of Quezon City and Marikina have sent a clear message to all and sundry that they know what they want and that they already have what they want. Anyone who even thinks of running against their choices will only be wasting time and money.

When the Senate campaign started, very few gave Sonia Roco a Chinaman’s chance to win. She did not have the resources of a Jamby Madrigal in 2004. Sonia cannot afford an advertising blitz. Her Aksyon Demokratiko Party does not have the local government machinery like that of Lakas-CMD and Kampi.

In this day and age when one should either be a clown or a smoothie in order to be able to win votes — Sonia Roco is what we can consider counter-culture. Being considered within the top 12 in the Pulse Asia Survey would show that the nation still reserves a place for no-nonsense candidates who represent good values, qualifications and integrity.

When Sonia’s husband, Raul Roco, passed away — media gave him the ultimate honor by calling him the best president we never had. I found that rather ironic because the same media that called Raul the best president we never had could have made Raul president if they only gave fair coverage of his distinct integrity and his other qualifications during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Instead, they gave more attention to Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) and other noise makers who had none of the qualities needed to assume the position they were aiming for. A major daily would even allot FPJ as many as four front page stories a day when the man could not even verbalize a credible platform of government and whose lack of qualifications prevented him from participating in the presidential debates.

If the middle class can get its act together, the candidacy of Sonia Roco can still be propelled into the winning circle of 12. The middle class can mount a campaign that can offset traditional political machinery. Media for that matter can use its power to offset what Sonia lacks in financial resources by giving her more exposure in the front pages and primetime news.

Kiko Pangilinan is another one who represents counter-culture and has been rewarded by voters for it. Just when everybody was seeking to be part of the favored Opposition — seeing the strong anti-Arroyo sentiment — Kiko Pangilinan opted to be true to his position of wanting to be independent of Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

His having overtaken erstwhile favorite, Loren Legarda, as number 1 in the February SWS Survey would indicate that voters admire and support those who make a stand.

Belmonte, Fernando, Roco and Pangilinan are like long overdue rain spraying our parched and arid desert of a political environment. They offer us real hope. By no means are they the final solution to our deeply entrenched political problems that trace itself to patronage and showbiztocracy — the cause and wrong alternative, respectively.

What they provide is the all-important beachhead, the starting point by which a new viable offensive may be launched to finally exorcise and vanquish the demons that have long possessed our political system.

  Previous Columns:

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

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

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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