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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Chapter 20 - Election


Chapter 20
Election
             
      Business as usual follows in Esperanza albeit those restlessness. Like all other municipalities, it thrives with commerce especially during market days when farmers from highlands sell their stuffs in the plea market at very low prices. This what weekends personifies the municipality that is Esperanza throbbing full-throttle  with life.
                The gloom that was yesterday it seems was merely a fleeting second of events as fiesta mood overturned relegating unceasing hostile environment in the sidelines. But many are  still looking forward for better days. That what appears to many people around seeing the promising future of Esperanza. But not to Driarco and Taklin who are yet to find answer on many unsolved criminality. The omen is there  and imminent. That if Taklin’s analysis of the situation is considered based on several incident looming as trend. But this is relegated in the background as party that is election is on the air.
                Depending on who is speaking, election is such an ambivalent term defying almost its classic definition of service in practice in the Philippines. For a common tao, it’s synonymous with a town fiesta wrapped in colorful garb bringing wholesome entertainment to electorate oftentimes giving surprise dividends like exotic food, liquor and cool cash. The amount ranges from measly P50.00 to P200.00 depending on the role you play. If you’re the coordinator of a party, yours is relatively higher than say a watchman or a voter. It is alright a flagrant violation of the Omnibus Code. But who cares anyway? Neither the officials themselves  nor the voting population seems to be concerned on this. Maybe because of the money flooding the electorates and other stakeholders that buy their silence.
                Giving away money to the electorate is never new in Philippine politics. For the opportunists, it is an occasion to show his worth let alone a day vindicating anew his generosity. For those in the government service, it is called “Sunshine Day” as employees lined up receiving their share given by politicians. The problem is  the bundles of money supposedly for distribution to employees were already divided whose lion’s share logically goes into the pocket of the Department head leaving the crumbs to lowly paid rank and file.
                 For some lowly esteemed people in the church, it means receiving a windfall or early Christmas bonus .
                Why all this gold rush? It’s still worth-taking the risk, an astute politician would say because they could recover back their expenses in the first six months or so holding office anyway.
                “Wrong,” a sharp observer would counteract. “Not that long but on the very first day of office they’re elected.”
                “Why? Because of their warped belief that getting elected by the electorate accrue them all the rights and privileges in exploiting whatever juicy projects his municipality would have.”
                “No wonder maybe that losing candidates who could not bear the stress of losing so much investment of the game gone nuts.”
                In layman’s parlance, they are not actually entering  politics but rather deliberately gearing themselves up for whatever monkey business there is available in Bureaucracy. Business, what else? Why so? Politics being synonymous with service has been corrupted to mean wanton destruction of the sanctity of ballots.
                 Driarco, Taklin and the rest of the gang would be quick spelling tirades that local officials for instance of many municipalities in the hinterlands are the ones engaging in illegal cutting, mining and all that destroying the ecology and wild life just to finance their candidacy. The rest, from their political patronage who looked at them as their political surrogates in the area. To think that these people were merely ordinary mortals before election and now are acting as if they’re master of the universe is not only ridiculous but also, stupid. How could local executive not be corrupt when they already blessed their corruption with grease money even before they are not elected yet.
                Thus seen, election is sometimes good exercise of futility spending peoples’ taxes away to waste, an ordeal to any beleaguered Filipino taxpayer. No wonder that politicians have to move heaven and earth committing sometimes those atrocity just to get themselves into power.
Like circus too, election time is fun-filled full of surprises and magic. Think not just about the birds and the bees casting their votes but also zombies; of hurling tirades against one another on such issues as graft and corruption, abuse of power, immoralities and of dishing out false promises.
Like death and taxes, election is also great leveler. It practically transcends the power of education, wealth and what you have. This is the lighter side of it.
                 The more popular, the better the chance of being elected. Such has been the case of many celebrities who experience sweet  political metamorphosis. Rogelio de la Rosa of the olden days was one. Joseph Ejercito Estrada of popularly called “Erap” followed suit. Fernando Poe Jr. would have been seated too in Malacañang were not for GMA’s “Hello Garci “ political manipulation.
                 The list is progressing giving benefits of doubts those working in the movie industry. One caricature puts it in fact why this practice of Juan joining politics through movie.
                “But of course what else if not  to enter politics later.”
Not to be relegated in the sideline are the local celebrities themselves, the counterpart of big celebrities right there in Manila. Normally these are those who are drop-outs either in high school or college who because of their rag to riches story are always the forces to reckon with comes election. Not that they could rival the offer of the opposing candidates but rather the electorate themselves  can relate and identify their cause with them. These are the voters who have been fed up by so-called traditional or patronage politics. Lacking for instance political acumen and maturity, they could pulled some surprises from under their sleeves comes election adding color to democracy. They tell us the lighter side of it. They act as clowns during verbal hassles in municipal hall, and even in such august body as congress and Senate. Outside in many public forums, they provide the needed humor not commonly found among promising politicians whose speeches are delivered dry.
                 Asked for instance why a politician has the habit of writing his name in many basketball court he donated. The funny politician would answer:
                ”What do you think of me, a fool or a cheap. To whose name would I be writing anyway – my opponent or the donor – when it’s me who donated it!” he would readily answer sending many listeners laughing at the top of their lungs.
                And asked why he has to affixed his name boldly even on the cover of many coffins he donated, the fellow would be quick to reply that why limit the possibility of returning the compliments of their generosity through their votes later- that if ever there would be one held up there in heaven.
                Now that he finally won the election, the media asked what his plans are.
                “Oh I do have many plants you see. Rose, gumamela, fruits, trees and all that,” he would readily retort. And queried further his being prompt in the assembly area the media still asking: Did you ride or did you walk to which the answer is ‘Of course did you ride!’ with feelings yet sending bedlam among the general listening public.
                 Trapping indeed these fortunate politicians proved very slippery and sometimes, admit it, difficult. One kind of such person was an undefeated politician who could afford talking two straight hours in corrupt and unorthodox English yet his paid listeners could only afford to take. Wanting to give benefits of doubt his opponents on his undefeated political career, he would take all serious and light criticisms thrown against him but manages in lodging back the issues neatly. For instance challenging their opponents’ sanity, he would accept the fact that they have reached that far earning college decrees becoming professionals like lawyers, accountants etc but he would berate them later as he exposed his extraordinaire exploits building  his huge economic empire making him one of the richest citizen of the country employing many professionals running the operation of  his various industry.
                 His conclusion naturally would then be:”Who is more intelligent now between or among us then?’
                From there, he would start reciting litanies of disparities his opponent had against him. Like ‘his house was merely my pigpen before’ and many others getting laughter and nod from his prospective voters. It works. And it seldom boomeranged.
                Obviously, politics from all angles could be considered devoid of meaning. But not when you go through deep analysis why it happened otherwise there’s just no business for Filipinos holding an  election. Why other democratic countries maintain the sanctity of their ballots.
                “It’s how Juan does it. For what once perceived as a legitimate way of extending services has been transformed into a meaningless exercise of one’s vote.”
                One such master politician was President Marcos himself. A Bar topnothcer in 1939 albeit review done by himself while in prison because  his name implicated in Nalundasan case. He was voted into office in 1965 defeating Diosdado Macapagal. He had shown what it takes getting into Malacañang and possibly how to die sticking himself in power. With PD 1081 stuck in his belt anyway, who could question his legitimacy, he proclaimed Martial Law and ruled the country with an iron fist. As a model politician, he shows generosity parceling out his loot after election to trusted lieutenants: Cojuangco, Cuenca, Dewey, Dee, Desini, Benedicto and the rest of Alibaba’s bunch of thieves whose lust for money were filled ad infinitum at the expense of millions of population starving. For him loyalty is practically non-negotiable. You either vote for him, euphemism for ‘eyes always on the board’ or ‘shut off’ meaning getting out of his way with a price – end of your political career. And if you offer resistance, a shut in your head by his brown shirts on loose adding you to the already  long list of persons disappeared.  It’s always a deal and nothing else. As a bonus, he does not only provide money but also firearms. This what he did to selected war lords in the South exchanging  their irrevocable loyalty. One anecdote has it that when he asks them his chance of getting elected anew in one confidential meeting, the aged die hard warlord retorted that the election in his area of responsibility has already long been over.
                “That fast!”
                “Yap why not,” he emphasized.
                “And the winner . . . . “
                 “Of course, Marcos wins,” he easily added.
                 Taken aback, the President asks: “You mean this early!” to which the acknowledged warlord responds:
                “What do you think of us – cheat!”
                What Marcos did up there  is also what then Mayor Torres preaches in the field. But not now when the top guys to include Mang Clioneo, Driarco’s father and Nong Tonio were gone  from the equation their replacements reviving their brand of politics.  There’s also  Nimfa, wife of  Mayor Torres waiting in the wings should there would happen to the incumbent Mayor.  Narsing Paras and Bernabe de la Rosa are two other options for the voters.  Nong  Clineo and Mang Tonio happened to be eliminated from the list because of their fate. Any of the two would have brought the glory days that is Esperanza politics.
                Election fever must have been in high pitch as fast approaching election would be decided on plurality of votes as four wannabees officially registered to run. Of the three  mayoralty candidates, Mayor Torres  seems to be popular and has been unperturbed against two rivals he knows could not mount  fair  and decent competition. Why so? There’s just no money. By his conservative estimate alone, he is willing to bet that he could even clobbered Narsing Paras, an independent candidate, 3,000 votes from roughly 30,000 registered voters. The unassuming  Nanding Palma, the fourth candidate running as an independent candidate completed the circus. But who knows given that it’s going to be four-cornered fight.
                “Even if they have their votes combined, it would still be far from those of the incumbent.” This, his men are willing to bet too.
                 Bernabe’s name coming into the scene as last minute replacement for Nong Tonio however  what makes him apprehensive.
                “What if the two  others would join forces against him as strategy later,”he thought would most likely consolidate their votes in Bernabe’s favor being an opposition.
                That would do him  no good and inflict severe damage in the ballot. But should he win, it would be sweetest victory ever to boost his third victory in a row for the incumbent. Though assured of the victory in silver platter, he doesn’t intend leaving any stones unturned or he might blow away  his chances destroying business and the concomitant personal interest  attached to him like the young Lita,  his  favorite mistress. He knows the psychology of his women. They are only after his funds as all women are crazy about. He likes best Lita because she’s still in her thirties. He knows that sooner or later,e he would change him in favor of more moneyed and handsome younger boys out there. For the Mayor,  it’s the prize he has to pay and would most likely not give damn given the other  girls  in his life. It’s payback time having been a Local Chief Executive enjoying those perks and beautiful ambitious girls out there.  
                “This is the moment of making it even’” he vowed.  But his situation, being a Mayor and father  of five grown-ups allow him enjoying life while still alive. He  hopes that Senate would pass and approve divorce bill  sooner so he could has  best option to rule and live over women of his choice.
                “It’s true that it most likely would not see daylight promulgated into law let alone implemented. So be it and I’ll just see how long would I be able to hold myself playing this so-called crazy love,” Mayor Torres told reading the mind of mostly of lawmakers who are philanderers and or immoral.
                “Tell that to the marines!” he defended in glee.
                “And the bottom line of them all – almighty money!” he reminded himself.
                 “This is very crucial because the highest bidder would spell out the winning candidate on that day,” he contented.
                “Losing! Giving away my higher political ambition . . . ! Never and over my dead body.”
Bernabe’s turn came. He has reservation raising the issue as he doesn’t have any witnesses to stand by him and he might incur technicality.         
                “Indeed let no man put asunder and that we don’t have any divorce in the country but look right into our homes, right on our backyards, concubine exists through querida system legacy from the Spaniards still thriving, a disgrace to this Catholic country and a blight constantly destroying the moral fiber of the nation,” Bernabe, Mang Tonio’s young replacement cleared blasted giving benefits of doubts of the voters.
                Thus far, all eyes are set on the fast approaching local election. Having taken out Mang Tonio from the equation, sees excitement coming out on election day. As usual she reserves her biggest budget for the purpose lest she would be transformed as plain citizen after the election jobless.
                His two rivals have been very busy too holding public rallies in different barangays hopefully to get the desired number of votes from the grassroots. Narsing Paras rallied particularly the younger generation telling them his 101% support to sports and athletics if ever he would get elected. Of the three, Bernabe Nong Tonio’s replacement as credible  candidate has the possibility of pulling off what with the legacy of his father, warm and full support of civil societies and NGO. That excluding dramatic way of staging their  rally delivering his platform of government.
                “How would you not be insecure running scared  given those factors most likely giving a run to his ambition as  acting Chief Executive of the  municipality. That if he would readily concede,” an observer whispered to a Mayor loyalist nearby.  
                 Bernabe is definitely not nuisance candidate. Other party actually invited him to join. He shook his head on this invitation learning that he would be uncomfortable with their platform of government. His’ is the new voice and new politics riding on such issues as people empowerment, better and responsive government and local employment. Being a neophyte politician he would not definitely mind losing. It’s all part of the growth and there are other avenues after you gave it all.
                “ God opens the window after closing the door,” he rationalized.
                “I could extend services to the people even as private citizen. Why not?” he would say.
                If elected he promised building indispensable infrastructure projects in the municipality specially all-weather roads in far-flung villages to help farmers market their produce in the cities where prices of agricultural products are  attractive. Back to LGU and barangays too through the power of ballots is his interest.
                Thus, the three cornered-fight looms like Damocles crucible hanging over the heads of the electorate of the once sleeping Esperanza.
                The Commission on Election did its own job as stipulated in Omnibus Code. Gun ban was instituted, no movement of personnel, no hiring and all that. Liquors away from sari-sari stores during election.
                 Public forum was held at the public market giving each candidate time ventilating their program of government. It starts with an extemporaneous speech each candidate then rebuttal follows providing the general viewing public better option whom to choose. Teachers would be deputized in canvassing the election returns later. Each three candidates were given the chance of delivering their platform of government. First was Mayor Torres,  the incumbent.
                He almost brought the house down brandishing  his onion-skinned stance hitting below the belt berating his opponents as lame ducks.
                 On his  turn, Narsing Paras hurled his own tirades spelling out the litanies of failures of the incumbent administration from the glaring graft and corruption supported with relevant documents like receipts, canvas papers, nepotism, abuse of authorities and payroll padding.
                “Bring them on in any court,” naturally was the incumbent’s  response later in the rebuttal.
And his bombshell – failure in protecting the environment of Esperanza through illegal cutting and mining.
                Validating his point, he was  quick spelling out that local officials for instance of the municipality are the ones engaging in illegal cutting themselves, destroying the ecology and wild life in the area. What for?
                “What else – to finance their election bid to perpetuate themselves into power.”
                Well said there by the opposing candidate.
                “To think that these people were merely ordinary mortals before election and now are acting as if they’re master of the universe is not only ridiculous but also, stupid. How could local executive not be corrupt when they already blessed their corruption with grease money even before they are not elected yet?” his inquiry.
                “As proof look at how much they are worth today from their SALN? This documents speak for itself.”
                So what used to be forum of healthy free market of ideas  virtually transformed into an exercise of verbal calisthenics. A war of nerves was on.
                Mr. Rene Herculano, the moderator on the other hand was quick calling  for order every time there was conflict  of interest or debates digressing from agreed format.
                “Excuse me but let us not forget order here. This while we  have not professionalized our politics here in the Philippines. That whatever you mean.”
                “It is unfortunate though that death from stabbing to cold-blooded murder becomes an extension of election. It could be an amazing experience in fact when no one got killed. Reported incidents of similar cases are felt all throughout the country. It’s all there printed in front pages of all national dailies. COMELEC’s record high  of casualties thus far are stunning,” he said.
                “There’s no need going  that far unless there would be reversal of fortune this time,” Mayor Torres indicated his thoughts seemingly confused.
                It’s not entirely bad he thought offering many bodies sacrifice in the altar of politics for success. Why not, especially if it is theirs’, he  insinuated.
                “It’s the reality sometimes you have to accept.”
                “Unless you are  prepared vacating  your post to any successor with all amenities  accruing to it you have to learn reality and should live by it,” he  confided.
                “Fine. But isn’t it that’s political suicide?” the thought at the back of his mind.
Naturally enough as his family dynasty in the making has been gripping its power for almost three decades now.
                “It’s definitely hard giving it away given your attachment to it,” his thoughts on the issue from his family’s context.
                ”It’s going to be decisive and would either spelled out your success or failure.” The fast approaching local election is definitely his political barometer. If he succeeds then it’s high time to shift gear like running maybe in Congress for his district next.
                “So what’s the beef here,” the thought coming out from his mind.
                “If others did it why can’t I,” he challenge not privy  to his party mates and constituents.
But what if he losses, that might could be it, he felt.
                It seemed both the incumbent and Nanding Paras gave their pieces eloquently sending curious onlookers and  spectators sometimes in frenzy.
Bernabe’s turn came. Clearing his throat, he called for sobriety and called for honest to goodness election.
                “I don’t have the money the way the incumbent has. But I have unconditional willingness and industry  serving you with all  my heart and  mind. That tradition of service by the way stretches back  to the early de la Rosa that have serve us for many decades. Unfortunately though, death snuffed out that early his life challenging me to take the fight where he left off.  I don’t intent to treat you here with rhetoric as whether we like it or not regardless of how far words would bring us up there one thing is sure. We would still go back to the earth and deals with the same problems and issues. We should be ready to answer any of this. And I don’t have any monopoly of answers as I’m not a magician with al aces tucked under my shelves to wave wonders.  Here your turn comes in handy providing necessary lift helping one another for common good.”
                He calls more sobriety from  the audience and advised to select and go for the best qualified to deliver the service among the wannabes later. Raising further his voice he said:
                “All of you attending this forum should make a decision at least after closing this healthy debate.  You may join us or may not depending where you stand. The choice is yours!” he emphasized.    
                “It is now a movement slowly but surely gaining momentum sweeping the entire  nation. Thankfully, it’s finally hitting the mark consolidating the mass  base  making its  presence felt among different areas of the country as people from different walks of life- student, farmers, retirees, government workers, NGO’s,  church, professionals, artists and all concerned tax-paying citizens - are joining the crusade for effective and transparent government,” he added.
                “Isn’t it that service is the classic term for politics?”
                 “We should  move on and fight continue  serving or implacable  rumbling of sounds and fury that  have been polluting our environment would all what we would be hearing all over again  everywhere ad infinitum. Let’s install  back the  order and restore decency to where it rightfully belongs. Where else if not to our original true home where our heart is,  there’s our happiness also, barangays in our beloved municipality. It’s payback time  for that basic unit of  institution. When else we  would be  returning  the compliment anyway having lived, breathed and moved there and have our being  if not now when the surge is  strong needed to overhaul that wrong  perception of its people expectantly  turning around, making the system works for its own good.” 
                “You might not know it.  But the nostalgia and  consciousness pervading in the atmosphere  is just  like rediscovering  new home. It is. Actually, we’ve been  all there only more  as mere resident and transient without ever openly participating in its own affairs. We merely extended lip service concocting desirable interventions in papers only  through mere support without ever participating it. See what we reaped? Whirlwind of confusion instead of clear-cut direction, division instead of unity and worst, squandering of resources instead of harnessing it into vibrant economy. And need to say more of patronage system and less empowered citizenry in politics, that which we all seek to weed out to establish better and transparent government.”
                 “The litany of enmity is long as far as our inaptitude  would allow.  With our votes however,  we could make possible things happen. That incompetence should already be thing of the past. It’s just the nature of man to cling to which  that is good and do what is  best for himself and the community. Right? As relevant didactic maxim further  puts it: All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. And true enough “it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness!”   
                 “Would you then dare to  share making a difference. By all means, join. Take the challenge. Your time and effort will definitely go long way. Vote for Bernabe  dela Rosa” Brief rest  before he continued.
                “If you can’t manage, never mind.   That for as long as you come out from your shell and start  ironing out issues in your respective barangay.  No need to go macro. Just be there in your area as concerned taxpaying citizen. You can make things happen by simply  practicing the advocacy through  which your barangay stands for. How to do it?  Here are some relevant questions as your checklist. Do you know how much IRA   your municipality or barangay has? What are its resources that once explored and exploited would add revenue for your barangay?  What about the arts and talents encompassing in your area. Do you attend barangay assembly. Most importantly, do you help formulate Barangay Dev’t. Plan before its integration to Municipal Dev’t. Plan. There are definitely many issues.  It’s there for you to take it as concerned taxpaying citizen.”
                “Most importantly with election of municipal and barangay officials fast approaching this May, it is behooved upon all stakeholders now to form the battle lines to secure the right of suffrage among the constituents.  After the poll automation, it’s time to continue holding clean election hopefully to clothe elected officials with clean and fresh mandate. As such we can rest secure as we laid down the basic foundation of the entire government with the power solidly resting on its sovereign voter down in the barangay, the basic unit and truly  home of us all,” he concluded.
Well delivered.
                “Many thanks,” Bernabe thanks the moderator amid thunderous applause of audience.
. . . . . . . . . .

                If you cannot  lick them, then join them., has been explainable  in Philippine politics.  But that is easier said than done.
                “For unless you have the money the better not run at all or  just be man enough licking  your own wounds in the end joining the Heartaches Loser’s Club wailing and sour-grapes wailing that you were not actually defeated but cheated only.“
                “If you are not in the league of an Oligarch and can’t  manage engaging in this very prohibitive industry, the better just be in the sidelines and  enjoy the great entertainment unfolding,” the Moderator cleared further but not after reminding that this topic is beside the point.
Digressing from the issue for the common good especially the electorate, the moderator tapped the services of those who volunteered in the past election hopefully to secure the sanctity of the ballots in their respective barangays.
                “Who would protect us from irregularities if not in the end we people who is the bottom line of this political exercise,” he emphasized giving a break for some blueprint for development in election.
                “Fr. Driarco’s past election experience has provided him nuggets of wisdom. He is right with us in the forum. May we be taught by him how and what to contribute comes election day,”  he said as the priest went upstage.
                “This is my second experience volunteering for PPCRV as citizen’s watchman over this very important political exercise in the country.”
                 “First, I don’t think there is as much excitement serving people than doing it in  far away sitios and barangays.”
                “Far flung areas are more prone to irregularities especially villages,” he added.
                “There I went  as pollwatcher.”
Part also of the challenge is the past experience he had under NAMFREL back then where one sitio registered more than ten irregularities from vote buying to ballot box snatching. The only regret he had was, such election misdeeds did not earn corresponding action and  response from commissioning authority despite submission of documents to them. He recalled submitting these documented irregularities to NAMFREL Head official  but getting no response of the action required in addressing the issue.
                “Unfortunately nothing came out from such effort as said report probably fell on deaf ears consigning such irregularities  in dustbin of history.” 
                From there he deliberately inhibited himself away volunteering similar work in the ensuing  election until he volunteered this year as  poll watcher  for PPCRV. It was indeed unlucky that even the local COMELEC was even very quick to a draw by declaring winners of the election despite official notice of irregularities. He thinks that this was also explainable as they too were held hostage by the LGU they  being holding their office in the municipal hall.
                “It is therefore hoped that all our efforts in PPCRV elsewhere would not  be  thrown in the trash bin as in the past and concomitantly be given corresponding attention and action if only to maintain sanity  among electorates and not to dampen enthusiasm of extending similar services next election.”
                “It is then behooved upon these officials  to take notice  and  address all irregularities to  determine the extent of dishonesty and provide solution curbing them thereby preserving sanctity of the ballots every election.
                Looking back, those experience was not easy. And what more today given the historic use of poll automation where danger of corruption could be widespread what with the facility of computers which you need only an alternate memory card with figures there favoring your bet then simply have this copied and sent to the Center canvassing the votes.
                “Who knows for instance the miracle each memory card had after these  were reconfigured and returned back to various precincts if there were no foreign  viruses forcibly installed in them after their recall.”
                “What about those exorbitant and prohibitive costs of election folder cover and cellophane stickers that actually cost very negligible in National bookstore. O there were too many miracles already identified and yet COMELEC is merely giving lip service to these complaints. Why instead they engaged in all those witch hunting forcing some Governors out of office in favor of their wards through political patronage. Some were even begging the issue. What further exacerbated the issue has been the seemingly deafening silence of submissive pious people there surprisingly not sounding off any fury and defiance over injustice committed on their innocent governor?”
                “Let us just anyway hope against all hopes that all would be peaceful and normal before, during and after election. Given that many youth comprised this year’s voting population, is already a positive indication that next exercise would be better and that we could no longer  afford to commit any irregularities unless we disregard their  collective strength as organized watchdogs and emerging voting powerbase.”
                “The cry of barangay was already over. It was no mean feat. But it’s good that congressional mischief in its three attempt over a decade for possible postponement of Barangay elections didn’t  saw daylight. Thanks now that all system goes to for inclusion in the forthcoming election. The province alone has more than 1,000 and 201 of these come from Esperanza and Sta. Rita whose  thousand plus voting population are the largest.”
“Sea of humanity trooping in different barangays to cast their votes, what a spectacle to behold.  That alone calls for celebration, an apt description as we choose for leaders to be elected as service expanders and providers in our respective municipalities and barangays.”  
                “Observers from Non-government organization, church and civic groups are earnestly hoping that this important exercise of sovereignty would come up with worthy leaders from among the educated and whose  character are beyond reproach and has moral integrity and persuasion  that could stand the test of time at least while they are in office  worthy of the votes cast on their favor and  could give best  service over  petty politics to the constituents. But unless, these concern are articulated in public plaza, nothing would happen.”
                “ Let therefore the voters  reflect on who among the wannabes deserve our votes,” he encouraged.
                “If possible give premium to those who have been serving the community without counting the cost. Vote outright to those who pledge not getting their  salary when elected. But check if they declare this wholeheartedly not as rhetoric and antics in getting setting their trap capturing your votes. We need this new breed of politicians not those who are  moving  heaven and earth to  get elected for pork and its equivalent IRA in barangay. It’s short of sacrifice and they are the kind of people we need most   - unselfish ones and service-oriented. Truly,  this kind of leaders who would serve above their personal interest is rare but we need them to dramatize that LGUs and Barangays are not job givers that any prospects and opportunists are up in running for public office for personal use  and satisfaction,” Fr. Driarco further dished out making  COMELEC Officials happy. Never mind that words delivered were sensitive but at least they were uplifting taking such issues for and in their behalf.
                 “Look for the professionals and those oozing with talents not the political surrogates who are only there to promote the whims and caprices of their mentors to  perpetuate  patronage politics and establish political dynasties. Section 38, of Omnibus Election Code is very  categorical on this stating: “The barangay election shall be non-partisan.  No person who filed a certificate of candidacy shall represent or allow himself to be represented as a candidate of any political party, political group, political committee, civic ,religious, professional. . . “  he further  ventilated.
                “But incredibly, even some Chief Executives are making a mockery of this provision going all the way campaigning  his surrogates at will.”
                “Shun away the drop-outs. How could we professionalize our primal base and improve it if we allow them and  those in the D and E brackets calling the shots instead  over  the professionals of the A-B-C brackets.”
                “Let them finished and  complete first  their studies if  they want to leave an imprint to the constituents.”
                “How could they best serve the community  and not succumb to corruption when they’re in office if they are not well equipped and would rely only  for IRA and other benefits for survival,” he articulated without any sign of fear and favor.
                 “I repeat our municipality and Barangays are not a job givers, you should know. It’s both a  company and an economy alright with all those resources - land , labor and capital available - . But these are reserved only  for those who have talents and initiatives of exploiting these  resources for good.”
                “What good having all these resources if we don’t have the minds, and hands to make them productive in the first place? Most importantly beware casting your votes to  those who dish out money, noodles-sardines-rice and other in-kinds with your votes in their mind.”
                 “Be true. Your vote is not worth their salt, right? You’re gullibility is simply taken for a ride by these opportunists making you as accomplice of corruption. Your stand on their passing windfall is the gauge. Why take them if you know that you’re worth more  than the goodies and freebies offered by them. Otherwise exercise freely your sacred right in determining who’s the men who could deliver the best shots for you. Or you don’t have any business for their recall as inept leaders later  as provided by law through Constituent Assembly.”
   And my invocation for God for all voters specially the new ones.
            “For all eligible especially  the first-time voters, pray before casting your votes that you are doing it honestly, voluntarily and freely as your covenant and pledge of  commitment before God and nation voting the right persons for the job. That way you help build true essence of democracy and contribute  building strong Republic giving legitimacy to those who will govern and thus help eradicating  corruption right from its base, cutting the vicious cycle of fraud and deception arising from selecting the incompetent ones.”
                “Service could be the classic definition of politics as already defined by earlier speaker.  Precisely we have election to transform this into an institution as “sovereignty resides in the people and that all government authority emanates from them.” Decide then looking through your prospects’ track records and see if he has what it takes to serve. All this is undoubtedly done for  the future, the younger generations coming. Reforming now the system, getting out the resurgence of patronage politics ensuring qualified and competent officials weeding out corruption is definitely   the best legacy we could offer to them. The best of luck then to all of us,” the good priest  ended.
. . . . . . . . . . . . .

                On his turn, Palma hurled his own tirades spelling out the litanies of failures of the incumbent administration from the glaring graft and corruption supported with relevant documents like receipts, canvas papers, to nepotism, abuse of authorities and payroll padding. So what used to be forum of healthy ideas turned out as an exercise of verbal calisthenics? A war of nerves sometimes could be an appropriate term. It is unfortunate though that death from stabbing to cold-blooded murder becomes an extension of election. It could be an amazing experience in fact when no one got killed during election. Reported incidents of similar cases are felt all throughout the country. It’s there printed in front page of all national dailies. COMELEC’s record of casualties thus far are stunning.
                There’s no need to go that far unless Mang Tonio would be resurrecting from the grave. It’s not entirely bad, candidate Palma  thought offering one body as sacrifice for the municipality.
                “But let his blood be an additional offering to our forsaken land according the whims and caprices of its officials not by the people who on the first place voted them into office.”
                “ It’s the reality sometimes we have to accept. Sad though he was gone too soon.” Mr. Palma empathized.   The message incidentally didn’t  augur good news to the incumbent sensing partiality obviously giving more leverage to Bernabe. This raised all the more the high blood of the incumbent apprehensive that the oppositions are in conspiracy against him.
                 He has been gripping the power for two term and this could be his last before leveling up in Congress.  It’s definitely hard giving it away having been  used to it. This election would be very decisive and would either spell out his success or failure. If he does succeed then it’s high time to shift to higher gear like running as Congressman for his district. If others did it why can’t he. Such has been his challenge, his greatest maybe in his life. He couldn’t definitely afford to lose this one or it would be a kiss of death to his political career. No wonder that this early he has already deputized his well-spoiled machinery providing them the needed logistics to penetrate the  remotest barangay and possibly any unknown sitios.
                Another NGO speaker this time was even hitting right the nerve of ambitious Filipinos running in election. He said:
                “I don’t intend to scare off the wannabes to run for next election.  But if you intend to run, better start now otherwise you’d be left behind and blowing away your chances of making it. That for as long as you have the money.  By money I mean not just barely enough for  you to make it. If need be hire  a good mathematician to give you an  exact figures, one that would catapult your dreams into an  elected post..By that, it means securing overhead that’s more or less more than the budget you’ll spent in the principal. Ignore this reality and you would soon utter to your heart’s delight: If I know pa lamang, I will never gayod!
                “Sounds like a mantra for successful election,” the COMELEC guy laughed outloud appreciating the joke.
                “Actually yes as I’m speaking this piece after gathering relevant data in the field analyzing why an incumbent slate who so far has been there making it to elected local posts via landslide victory finally folded leaving only one Municipal Kagawad winning by his lonesome self despite well-oiled machinery.  There might be other variables like their being not residents in the area and all that.  But it seems that short of not delivering the goods to the voters specially in the homestretch sealed the fate of the failures of the seven incumbent. It was like very strong wind blowing them away fast their chances without ever knowing why,” he added.
                “With money too, you need not to be affiliated in any popular political party.  Your budget is already enough making the difference specially when yours is much higher than what they are giving.  The best thing they can do is to dish out higher money buying out in other words what you gave. In that case you should make your stake higher above than theirs so that the momentum would go back to you again or you would soon wake up badly beaten.”
Such was the case of the four independents who mostly make it to the final winning magic eight of Municipal Kagawad.
                “Note what we’re talking here is merely Sangguniang Bayan and you know how much at least they budgeted for their victory? More than half a million pesos at P50.00 per voter for at least 6,000 voters adding their budget on foods, gasoline, fighter, And where did they get the money. That’s crucial for the uninitiated. Where else if not from the proceeds of selling properties and loans just to secure that  their candidacy are bankrolled to the end.”
                “It is just unfortunate that the incumbent strategist didn’t do their homework otherwise they would have remained in power.  The better they stop throwing tirades fomenting further division.  The better they go back now in the drawing board and start renewing their interest if they still intend to regain their lofty position and go back to power. Simply lick the wounds in other words and no need crying over spilled milk. Politics anyway is higher brand of entertainment.  Pakapalan lang yan ng mukha.  That if you have face to reckon with. What if the problem instead is your face! That needs complete reconfiguration as in PCOS machine earlier subjected.  As they said in English: it’s very hard to face the problem, if the problem is your face.”
                Reflecting how  the immense power of  gold among the guns and goons have transformed the lives of political  wannabes for good, it’s no wonder that many unknown, unfit and unschooled make it to the corridor of powers and down the lines in local offices where the almighty made their entry possible in the world of politics.  Some stayed there until they lost their stellar political career. Think for instance  the elder Ampatuan who defeated Candao then in ARMM. The elder Ampatuan was only grade four compare to Candao who is a stateman and yet look, how he made him mere smithereens in the world of politics in Maguindanao. Many others carved the niche of  their political career by sheer guts and with the help of vast and great resources.  These are the likes of the elder Democrito Plaza in Agusan del Sur and the Roa’s of Misamis Oriental who all first secure the power of their financial base before they engage into full throttle political dominance in their respective districts.  Similar observation could be said in other provinces.
                Ergo, it’s all money in the world of politics.  It’s not only the oil that keeps you burning and running your political machinery but most importantly that vital cog  keeping your dreams alive keeping it there afloat without which better swallow any of your political ambition. You might not even make it.  But the fact that you shared your resources to the voting public specially the poor win or loss is already modest effort of reaching them out to your dreams in Sociology’s Leveling Theory.  And that you may be blessed. 
                True enough all trusted lieutenants armed with grease money and guns carrying master list of voters went house-to-house conducting information drive here and there selling the good news of any candidate is the first order of the day. Soon they also employed dirty tactics sabotaging the rally of the opponents. They would provide drinks and appetizers  to bystanders and kibitzers and other curious on-lookers disrupting later the gathering. Sometimes they would block the road with huge logs, rocks and anything their hands could lean on discouraging the people in attending the occasion and to instill fear of ambush which doesn’t happened anyway. Some kibitzers out of the heck of it have the nasty habits of wiping the makeshift bridge suspenders normally small bamboo posts hanging horizontally, with human feces. Who could indeed detect that they are human waste in the evening where electricity is not available. Dung for this unsavory dirty tactics. The public viewers sometimes could not help themselves but seethes with anger. To whom? No one knows except the opposing parties. The rest would just laugh it off away and never allow themselves to be duped into attending similar political rallies, again.
                True enough Philippine politics is not only marked by violence but also humors, intriguing many analyst on such development. And indeed, it is hardly imagine that any sensible Filipino could still afford to laugh given the countless lives lost as a result of election. In many other parts of the country like Bohol and Muslim Mindanao killing during election is just such an ordinary phenomenon. How could it be avoided for instance when gun ban sometimes is only instituted in papers. Many Muslims do surrender their firearms but not all specially those high powered ones. A gun for them is an extension of their intestines. They would rather not eat than not have any guns at all. Thus you would see even grown-ups tucking long barrel firearms in many area specially those that they controlled election time or not. So how could be killing avoided? It is even a miracle for any election pass without any bloodshed. Just that. Politics Filipino style just defies miracle. For instance, how could an opponent get zero-votes in all areas specially those who considers his bailiwick. Whatever happens to his trusted lieutenants and paid watchers? Did they staged a boycott or have their votes sold to other party? Did their nerve break up in the last second? Questions like that are indeed miracles but do happen in any election. So why indeed there is no single vote cast in his favor. Whatever happened to those of his friends, paid voters, relatives his wife and children. They might have changed their choice alright but my God not me, he griped. Even when COMELEC utilized computers later in tallying votes, somehow manipulation would still find its way. Out of disgust, those manning the software staged an masse boycott stalling the counting of election returns.
                Changing and snatching of ballot boxes featuring armed goons and rebels whatever have also their day. And who would resist not the lowly paid teachers and or people deputized by COMELEC unless they going to pay the prize for their resistance.
. . . . . . . . . .

                The incumbent was right. He won handily the election over her three other  rivals. It was not hard-earned victory in the polls. The people just feel that he is still the necessary evil available in town and that there were no semblance of tough oppositions from his three opponents. Hhe was elated for this. At least, the people are giving him their license to run the government piling anew huge investments for his next target – Congress. Not bad if he could make it. If he was able to make it to the top post of Esperanza thrice in a row continuing the legacy where he left off, why not indeed, he prided himself. What if somebody come along and challenge him to a good fight.
               “Done, just well done last election,” he said relegating the issue.
             He doesn’t know why this developed out of nowhere. But who knows possible re-emergence of Mang Tonio’s  ghost among his people.
                “No way, “ newly –elect Mayor say.
                The just concluded election happens to fall on May where fiesta is celebrated. That makes the newly re-elected Mayor doubly busy and excited. For one, he would only be preparing just one celebration for two occasions after winning the top post and as a Father of the municipality he now host to countless visitors and well-wishers joining  the party..
                The inauguration of new set of local officers ensued as usual. The newly elected mayor and the rest of the councilors renewed their commitment of service. Mayor Torres, in his speech, promised to give his salary to deserving students who would  finish their studies either in high school or in college. This scholarship program started since his election into office might have been the plus factor that made him won the mayoralty post anew. So far nobody doubted this plan. The electorate specially those related to his scholars cannot afford not supporting  him. Unknown though to many, the subtle mayor has bigger plans behind his altruism. He still intends to continue exploiting the remaining forest reserve in the mountain and control the bidding of infra projects which he receives some lion shares from the winning contractors
                “Everything boils down to standard operating procedure,” that the new Mayor knows best as he is not privy to his brand of politics.
                “What now?” that’s the question remained to be seen as his term progresses. He told defending the secret he has been keeping ever since no one has bugged so far.
                “While you’re the prime of your life and career, enjoy!” he reminded himself elated over the new mandate given by the people never mind if by plurality votes,” he snapped.
. . . . . . . . . . . .


                No choice actually for the moment.  The benefits were all given. How could he not be receptive and magnanimous of this. What’s wrong with all this standard operating procedures. They’re all part of the deal. I never demanded it, so what all the fuzz over it when he has been enjoying the fruits of all these deals – handsome incentives from the purchase of heavy equipments  from  dump trucks, bulldozers, prime movers virtually making the family eligible contractors. This excluding  vast, thick and prime agricultural landholdings they have accumulated  over the years  on top of more than five hundred cattles in their pasture land. They’re right had they share the benefits of this windfall to the people. But no and never. Delicadeza should have been observed as engaging into business as family smacks right of opportunism merely using the LGU as its springboard in engaging into such illegal activities.
                For an ordinary layman, such picture provides the glaring anatomy of graft and corruption. No Juan de la Cruz, unless he is a Saint, could possibly resist that. Driarco would recall that temptation is never considered a sin unless one gives to it. Unfortunately, it’s the easiest way to fall into the trap of committing that sin. Evil begets evil, Mayor Torres knows that but saying ‘sorry’ could wait later. With many mouths to feed, armed bodyguards to maintain, girls to be with living in immoralities, who could afford not to fall into the trap of temptation. He did and smitten by the excitement generated by it.

. . . . . . . . . .

                Danny, Fr. Driarco’s younger brother was one among those who made it to the magic eight taking the topmost spot among the eighteen candidates for councilor. It was not his choice to run for politics. But that of the Liberal Party whose national agenda include the termination of military bases agreement, higher wages for both public and private workers specially the teachers who have been deprived of better salary pay. Being a son of well-loved former mayor naturally was plus factor whose name recall easily caught the electorate during the elected.
                 He understands the power play employed by Mayor Torres but it is still too early to come out in the open. Time will only tell. He also know how to uproot graft and corruption. He learns this after analyzing the complex process involved in carrying out big projects. It’s the only solution available but he’s sure that it will work weeding out the blight and corruption in the bureaucracy. Maybe not entirely but might be a breakthrough. The solution simply calls for the control of resources eliminating the bidding and canvassing business depriving the third party’s participation in the entire process. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done.
                “You could be altering a little bit that structure of bureaucracy coming out with a Department exclusively tasked in the acquisition of materials and or equipments and thus saving what is there left for the government,” he would challenge his detractors.
                “Look at that. It didn’t happen in Russia and China and other communist countries. Who are you fooling whom?”  he recalled his friends questioning the merit of the proposal nipping right in the bud of the issue.
             “It even slips away with the presence of an auditor supposedly conducting regular audit  checking  and cross-checking all transactions how much more when you’re going to employ just two persons. You bet, it is more dangerous than the present system we are adopting?” others clarified.
                “Yes, because there actually no deliberate attempt to safeguard the government’s money as all stakeholders are party out of making a run of their own take when occasion arises. Yap buddy, you’re right whatever system we would adopt, just there’s no way  succeeding,” he answered.
                Give me time to validate my theory now that I’m in government service, the thought coming back to him.
                “Who knows I’m might be vindicated here.  No one can tell,” he cleared.
It is definitely rough road ahead for Danny from the looks of it. By force of circumstances, he has on his side fortunately the tradition of honest and clean government practiced by his father. And by all means, he is bound to take the cudgel for and in behalf the rest of local officials who have similar vision but are only apprehensive to be counted. What he probably needs is ample time, more time for exposure, more time for maturation and more time to summon enough courage to give flesh, blood and bones to his plan of action. It’s been of common knowledge that Esperanza was his father’s baby before Mang Tonio got elected continuing the long tradition of honest government . That it has probably grown as progressive center of trade, commerce and industry that part of the province until a needle took him out from that promising limelight. It was his father who spearheaded the morality of civil disobedience when power of the ballots was silenced by the muzzle of the gun. He agrees very well to the maxim that sooner or later whose who get the position out of the bayonets could never stay long sitting on the tip or they would have their anus cut into half. Others look upon his father as romantic revolutionary, a title his father doesn’t mind. For he was an epitome of public servant imbued with humility, simplicity and strong political will. He practically revolutionized the government in Esperanza like refusing to receive his salary, ironically continued by Torres’ family, cleaning the streets, halls and public markets and other services. He defied protocol and wears only t-shirts in many occasions. He doesn’t smoke, drink and what have you to dramatize his crusade for better government in his municipality.
                The fight again is on, his alter ego was saying on his first assumption of duty in the municipality. Danny managed only to smile. Now together with Driarco, they could unleashed two-pronged attack fiscalizing the Sangguniang Bayan session hall. Engaging in guerilla warfare in ensuing sessions with Driarco, Taklin and all people supporting would already make his day.
“But why all Filipinos are crazy about politics?” he thought trying to muster what it is in Filipino psyche that Juan de la Cruz is so crazy about. And Driarco, so far has only one answer, an answer  probably shared also by millions other voters.
                “Pork or money.  It’s all the same, two flipside in a coin.” Crazier even that even in Parents’ Teachers’ Association, Juan is there lobbying for possible post. Again, why so because of money wrapped up in the word ‘service’ subsequently  willingness to serve.  But you can’t  just find fault in Juan because big Juan de la Cruzes up there in Congress and Senate have been setting the precedents too. Nothing mysterious here, he thought. Despite too of this stunning reality, he is yet to see whatever prompted this virus affecting many politicians today.
. . . . . . . . . . . .

                Red meat, ham, animal protein, beef, chicken, mutton, lamb – it’s all synonymous with pork any carnivorous man can’t live without. In the world of Philippine politics, it’s called Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) enjoyed by 23 Senators and 270 Congressman.
              In sum, it accounts for  P23.7 Billion yearly budget of the latest culled straight from taxpayers money and returned back allegedly to them through various development projects. Sounds great but not when you know that the music is grating to any  concern taxpayer’s ear.  It’s indeed sad to note  that the people themselves are shortchanged as they are left in the receiving end what with more  than  half of the budget  railroaded somewhere as it passes through different third parties with greasy hands before it finally reaches the constituents who are supposed to be direct beneficiaries of PDAF. Put it simply, it’s the great source of corruption.
                “So you want to get rid of corruption? Weed out the third party! But can we? There just  seems to be problem somewhere. Political will? Maybe. Inaptitude? Maybe. It depends who are its apologist. For as in the corrupt English dictum bares it: It’s very hard to face the problem if the problem is your face!
                “That I think all will agree. Thus, the pressing issue -  do we have what it really  takes to face the problem head on? Must be kidding. Yes of course only we don’t give damn about it,” the thought rekindling to Danny as he was back home.
                 “That has  always been a sad refrain as in a song hearing all these legitimate complaints reaching us to far greater proportion that all opportunity seems to have  slipped us  by beyond control  contributing  us  tarnished image  as one of the most corrupt country in the world. And yet we seemed to have remained  undaunted as if basking  in glory from this infamy.”
                “Witness all the seemingly many excuses and approaches of combating this malady which are all palliative. Look how our good Congressmen in the House of Representative brazenly mangled the 14 years in the making Freedom of Information Bill only to be buried in the last minute without seeing the dawn by mere technicality! “
                An instance that speaks well the issue, surprisingly, Mayor Torres’s true color came out when he revealed back home later in one radio station  that no way he could appreciate faces of journalist who might be prying on questionable projects in effect begging  ACDC journalist should first clean their  own backyard instead before minding politicians’ business through FOI Bill.
                “What truly an irresponsible declaration from the good Mayor as if all members of the media are corrupt” early reply from concerned media people.
                 Clearly, it was very good gambit and familiar  antics  the same way many subtle politicians are employing when he invoked that mere technicality digressing from the issue.
Same tactic was seen in one important hearing conducted on that sensitive issue of Freedom of Information Bill  where concerned Congressmen deliberately did not attend the hearing they are all present. The reason – to protect their own interest of the pork they would not want to account. Ironically, the numbers of  honorable Congressmen back then would have been enough constituting the  quorum only they  were seen just loitering around in the premises. Where the heart is willing it will find thousand means; but where the heart is unwilling it will find not just thousand but millions of excuses.
                Securing enough courage  as if moving heaven and earth not to muster enough quorum as cover up was definitely the best thing they could do. Undoubtedly, it was conspiracy or passing that FOI Bill early on  would have opened  the Pandora’s box of corruption smelling fishy as more and more skeletons on their closet would be revealed to the public.  That incident was  technically corruption in the highest order.
                 “It is just hoped therefore that such scandalous event would not become a precedent now that another FOI version is introduced under P-Noy’s presidency who repeatedly vows  fighting corruption with finality,” Danny challenged.
                “Correspondingly, slashed the pork from those who have not delivered the results to their district. Or better still, why not directly give the pork to their constituents making  many would all be more  happy,” Danny continued.
                What is the Mayor’s  and all politicians stand on his issue,”
                “Why not start right treating this malady with its corresponding cure right in our own backyard or suffer identity crisis instead becoming casualty as corruption blows right before our faces. That’s precisely the problem. Unfortunately such observation doesn’t deserve further qualification unless we suffers mental lapses.
                “For isn’t it that this was clearly identified as one of her campaign pledge?”
                “Most importantly, she’d been through it  incidentally enjoying the smorgasbord menu given by pork  for our  Congressman and Senator and its form in Local Government Units – Internal Revenue Allotment.
                “ Alright it might be difficult now  addressing the issue as it would define the true character of her administration vis-a-vis to corruption. But when would he start applying the cure to this malady. He has been there anyway for the past three decades riding on the crest of his constituents blind loyalty.  He has already weathered troubled road of politics passing and celebrating Easter of election garnering overwhelming mandate. What more does he need when he has everything at his disposal.  The right move at the right time.  This is my  show, in my   time. Must really be  Showtime. . . .” the elated reelected Mayor felt.

. . . . . . . . . . .

                “Anything new last election?” Fr. Driarco clarified.
 Maybe new faces here and there for  those who were able to make it or  winning some and losing                 some for others . But  the grandest of them all, winners all  in  national and local elective post by one great big family.
                Why really not if all factors for sure victory concocted by professional strategists and spin doctors   were followed to the letter. While those unfortunate ones wallowing still   in their ignominy of defeat and still unable to shrug off the hangover of reversals of their fate  reeking of humiliation, this emerging new special  kind of family simply savoring their victory with relish in cloud nine qualifying them  as the New Almighty  today until next election when the people would decide again their fate either they deserve to prolong their stay in office or its time too packing their bags and giving away for new space occupants relegating their previous victory in the dustbin of history in the background. But here’s  the catch, money.
                 What would you get anyway with millions of money  poured in their campaign chest for instance securing  the needed votes specially in the homestretch if not their votes.  From all indication with resources already secured in the bag from all those hard earned resources pooled together from dispatching properties and getting hefty bank loans  used to  bankroll their candidacies  bearing good results in the end of  resounding victory for one great big family, is a celebration of life. Nothing really is impossible in an election, we know that. How much more if surveys had been conducted showing the trend of incoming polls  indicating great probability of making it.
                Such was the result of last election. Many were happy but the happiest undoubtedly were big family. The victory came in different shades depending on how many members of a family makes it. As in sociology, it could be simple family unit where both husband and wife makes it as both winners.  Or nuclear where other members of the family make it. It could also be an extended where other relatives of the family make it into winning circle either in national or  local election.  Now take the sum of the return of their investment through the pork barrel, IRA and other perks and you have correspondingly one big great  family very happy naturally enjoying most the best there is in power their  post offer. 
                Look those in the Senators lately occupant of the Senate. You have there the Big Three brothers the likes of  Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Lito Lapid who at last authored the Lapid Law providing as usual pro bono legal services to pauper litigants.  Never mind the spitfire Miriam Defensor Santiago, the Big Man promising big justice Frank Drilon, Manong Juan Ponce Enrile, erstwhile kilig ng mga kolehiyala Ed Angara, Mr. Fiscalizer  Joker Arroyo and the sport enthusiast Pia Cayetano. Add the Drug Czar comedian Tito Sotto and what you’ve got if not one Big Movie family.
                With the entry of Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos and TG Guingona, the cast in Senate is simply stellar. It’s just unfortunate though  that the villains in the mold of Ka Satur Ocampo and equally progressive Liza Maza did not make it in the screening test via Senatorial election  That was tough but as we know all is well that ends well. With Noynoy’s battle cry Tapusin ang Korupyon sa Pamahalaan during his term, the show would definitely not be  that smooth-sailing. Let the show therefore begin, Fr. Driarco’s thoughts wandering.
                It was not only that one big movie, last election ushered in also the consolidation of one big family.  You have the Estradas for instance save for Erap not making it back to presidency.  But his previous love of his life Guia Gomez was elected Mayor of San Juan with sons Jayvee Ejercito winning as Congressman in his district and later of course joining Jinggoy retaining his seat in the Senate. Go to Ilocos Norte and you have the Marcoses back in power with Bongbong of  course as Govermor  relinquishing the seat later to Imee Marcos after earning the seat in Senate. Imelda has been in Congress by the way. So how short is our memory, reminded by writer of an impending return to dark age of dictatorship!  What about the Binays all in family in Makati. Similarly, it was not at all bad for the Villar even if Manny didn’t make it because his son Mark was also elected as Representative of their District on top of Cynthia Villar enjoying her status quo as Congresswoman.
Going down in Mindanao and you can see that nothing significant  change happening  in its political landscape save for Maguindanao Toto Mangundadatu won vindicating his crusade against the Ampatuans.  The prize for such change was unfortunately too prohibitive in that 54 lives with many journalists were  sacrificed in the altar of greed in politics. Davao City, as already indicated had the Dutertes calling again the shot although this time, the younger daughter of Duterte will assume as Mayor relegating the post back to elder Duterte. That she beat the veteran Prospero Nograles also added color in her cap.
                Bukidnon of course, have the Zubiri’s despite some of  his lineups were mercilessly clobbered by new rising political star in the first district in Jess Paras’ mold who relinquished the post though to Malou Acosta, earlier staunch political stalwarts of Bukidnon.   Gauging from the recent development with Inaki Zubiri winning the Mayoralty post in Malaybalay, it is very probable that their grip to power would be ad infinitum. The trend is similar in Misamis Oriental, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte where the Emanos, Romualdos and Dimaporo respectively reign. Oscar Moreno would however cut the long reign of elder Emano setting new trend of politics at Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental.
                It is just hoped anyway given the vast power enjoyed by these big families that they could vindicate the mandate extended to them by the general voting public. They’d been there and now they’re back riding anew on the crest of  majority mandate from the people. Now is the time to test their political maturity dishing out services beyond partisan politics.  Most specially, payback time of giving utmost services to people and  that they don’t easily buckle on the pressure. Instead, should be  in their best element and one in pursuing excellence in service never mind if one great big family.   Fr. Driarco thought.

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