“The fault dear Brutus
Is not in our stars but in ourselves
That we are underlings.”
– Cassius to Brutus in William Shakespeare’s
Election season in the Philippines is a game – of fools, pretenders and underlings. Who are the fools? The people who think that elections will bring better days in their lives; the persons who believe their candidates will win and after assuming office will solve all the problems of the country; and the candidates who tell the people that they are the messiah to solve all our national and local problems, Of course, they are all pretenders – almost to a man or woman.
This has been happening for ages. Nothing has happened for the better – for the worse, yes. It’s all imagination bordering on hallucination. But nothing ever changes – the words and methods are the same. The people never learn. They allow themselves to be fooled. Credit it to ignorance. Attribute it to greed. Credit it to the failure of all institutions – from government to churches and religions, and finally, the family. And we are all to blame for our inaction – as we are all participants in the conspiracy of silence
Back to 2016: There was a promdi from Davao City who ran for President of the country in 2016. He successfully manipulated mainstream and social media. He mesmerized the people with his bullying, vulgar and indecent language and the huge promise of PAGBABAGO – change. The promise was so huge – federal and parliamentary system, revolutionary government upon assumption of office, independent foreign policy, solving the illegal drug problem and graft and corruption within six months from assumption of office, giving better life for the Filipino, rice at fifteen pesos a kilo, going to the Scarborough Shoal on a jet ski to plant the Filipino flag in defiance of the People’s Republic of China, cancelling the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), and solving the communist insurgency problem at the earliest opportunity.
Huge and impressive promises fit for a President! Listening to PR Duterte intoned these promises with a bravado and certitude of a god from Mt. Olympus one cannot help but be impressed. But when you look closely at his qualifications – absolutely wanting in intellectual depth, one cannot help but seriously entertain doubts on his ability to be able to deliver on his promises.
Failure: After five years and seven months in office, PR Duterte has failed to deliver on his promises as shown by the following:
Federal system – Failed. It does not exist.
Parliamentary system –Failed. It does not exist.
Revolutionary government – Failed. It does not exist
Independent foreign policy – Failed. Scandalous joke! The reverse is true, RP is a lapdog of China.
Better life for the people – Failed. It is a bitter life.
Illegal drugs – Failed. It is still flourishing.
Graft and corruption – Failed. It goes unabated.
Insurgency problem – Failed, It is still active and growing. VFA – Failed. It was gone yesterday but it is here today.
P15 a kilo of rice – Failed. It’s a hallucination.
Jet ski to Scarborough – Failed. It existed in PR D’s mind.
With all these failures, why is PR Duterte still around – going strong, flamboyant and at his demagogic best? In every Filipino lies the answer – reminiscent of what the late Senator William Fullbright said of the Philippines during the martial law regime of President Ferdinand, “It is a country of sixty five million cowards and one son of a bitch.” I was one of the few in this country who openly disagreed with Fullbright and history proved me right. But this time, the Fullbright diagnosis gives a familiar ring.
Pretenders: From Cory Aquino to Rodrigo Duterte, we have a cycle of the same – all pretenders to be able to solve our problems and give better life for our people. Bitter life –Yes! Solutions to problems – No! Everyone seems to give the impression that believing in pretenders is the law of life, the name of the game. Why do we believe in this? From Cory Aquino to
Rody Duterte are thirty-six years. Why have we remained asleep or stupid that long? We always make the wrong choices. What is wrong with us as a people?
We are at the early stage of active campaigning. All the popular presidential candidates are trying to duplicate the PR Duterte performance in 2016. None of them can do it – since PR D knows the Filipino better than the palm of his hand. All of them are poor imitations of PR D. But they are all trying – knowing the gullibility of the Filipino. Whoever of them gets elected – it’s all the same, over and over again. Nothing will change. It’s another six years of cyclical motion – no horizontal progress but just like a Ferrris Wheel turning and turning around but staying in place.
Candidates in brief: Let’s rake a glance at the presidential candidates. We start with the supposed front runner – Former SENATOR FERDINAND “BONBONG” MARCOS, JR. also known as BB M. What are his qualifications for President of the Philippines? Watching him all these years and having talked to him once on serious matters, you may ask me this question – What do I think of him? As student and participant in the game of politics, both on the local and national level, my judgment on him is that he is not fit to be President. Why?
He has no vision of what this country should be. He has well pronounced ambition but he has no vision. He does not show that kind of character, integrity and discipline required of a President .He does not show a value system that makes of a good President. He is happy go lucky and shows no serious commitment to country and people. He is a million light years away from the qualities of his father..
What about VP LENI ROBREDO? She looks attractive and trustworthy except for her choice of her chief advisers which leaves so much to be desired. Like BB M, she too has no defined vision of country though she does not show the kind of ambition that BB M and the rest of the pack do. Leni will make a good Secretary of Social Services or Governor of a province. But certainly not the kind of President the country needs, especially now.
SENATOR PANFILO “PING” LACSON projects the impression he could be a leader of men except that the record of Lacson as a public official does not do well for him in his bid for the presidency. He was one of the aides of Colonel Abadilla in the notorious Metrocom. He has not overcome the charges against him in the Kuratong Baleleng rubout. The charge of Rosebud on Ping’s involvement with illegal drugs looms large in the shadows. His obsequious and canine behavior in support of PR Duterte during the past five years of his presidency does not speak well of character, integrity, discipline and commitment to country. On top of that, Ping is no different from BB M and LENI ROBREDO – all ambition but no vision.
SENATOR MANNY PACQUIAO is no different from the rest of the pack – no vision, just ambition. I used to think highly of Manny in the initial stage of his interest in the presidency. In jousting with PR Duterte, he showed a lot of courage, character, discipline and commitment to people and country. As the days moved on, however, he demonstrated he is nothing but a flash in the pan – motherhood statements just like all the rest. If Manny really wants to be of service to the country, it is best for him to run for Provincial Governor of Saranggani. That job he can do well while learning what it takes to be President.
CITY MAYOR FRANCISCO “ISKO” DOMAGOSO aka Isko Moreno and Yorme. Some people are impressed by his performance as City Mayor of Manila – Moreno himself, his omnipresent propagandists, his leaders and followers. From the objective point of view, there is nothing Moreno has done for the people of Manila that can justify his elevation to the presidency. Again, like the rest of the popular presidential candidates, he is brimming with a lot of ambition but no vision. From the standpoint of character, integrity, discipline and commitment to people and country needed for the next President of the Philippines – I am afraid he is just a pygmy version of PR Duterte whom Isko publicly admires.
What now: I have been continually asked up to this moment – Where is the X-FACTOR who I have been mentioning on this page. Is he an illusion? Is he a product of fertile imagination? Is he a dream? Or, is he hallucination? It’s not anyone of them. He is a real person armed with a vision for a better Philippines. But it takes more than vision and qualifications to win the presidency. Logistics and an effective national organization are necessities to mount a successful campaign – and win. Without logistics and an effective national organization, you are running not to win but to prepare for the next presidential campaign – if you are still alive by then.
You may counter these arguments by asking me – Why did you win the governorship of Misamis Oriental in 1980 under conditions of martial law, without money and organization and against the overwhelming money and machine of President Marcos and Vice-President Pelaez? Well, Misamis Oriental is not the Philippines. The operative electoral rules and methods for a national campaign are so hugely different from a provincial or city or town campaign. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a fool.
If the X-FACTOR does not materialize before the first ten days of February 2022, what shall we do? Ask yourself that question. Me? I will continue writing in Facebook, publish my books and go back to Misamis Orietnal to rethink my options. Why? I am a Sun Tzu warrior and I hate being a fool, pretender or an underling. Whichever situation is unacceptable to me but in the well remembered words of Reinhold Niebuhr – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”