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Political weather-weather

Political weather-weather - Danton Remoto
Views and analysis

I am still writing this column because I am not running as a nominee of Ang Ladlad for the party-list elections on May 10, 2010. Only those running for elective posts are barred by the law from writing articles and columns and holding book launchings. So for those who keep on asking me for money because they want to campaign for me, go back to the boonies, please.

The five nominees of Ang Ladlad are Ms. Bemz Benedito, a transgender who studied Sociology at the Ateneo de Manila University Graduate School; Atty. Germaine Trittle Leonin, from the College of Law, University of the Philippines; Mr. Cris Lopera, a seasoned NGO leader from General Santos City in Mindanao; Ms. Naomi Fontanos, another transgender finishing her graduate degree in Education at the State University; and Mr. Dex Macaldo, who used to work as a media officer with another, elected party-list in the previous Congress.

So it is not me who is running. I would also like to tell the many other party-lists out there to please stop calling me, texting me, or sending me e-mail messages inviting me to be their party-list candidate for the elections. The Party List Law states that you have to be a member of the party 90 days before your nomination. And what is the quick answer of these wise guys? “We can always antedate your membership form.” And these, ladies and gentlemen, are the future lawmakers of the land.

When I ask them why do they pester me to run under them as their first nominee? “Because of your wide media exposure, you will carry us to victory. And we have lots of money for the campaign.” Excuse me. Some of these party list groups, frankly , serve as mere fronts of a group I cannot, will never, join. Eh kung ‘yung senatorial slate nga under them, hindi ko tinanggap, eto pang party list kuno nila?

In my few years in politics – from 2003 when I founded Ang Ladlad to the present – this is what I have learnt. Like blue-bottle flies (bangaw), political operators and the lawyers of politicians will descend on you months before the filing of candidacies to inveigle you to join them. Like kings, they will come bearing gifts, in this case, offering millions of pesos in campaign funds, plus TV ads. Only God knows where these millions of pesos came from.

Moreover, they carry with them copies of unpolluted surveys showing you in the top 12 of the senatorial game. These copies, I think, are correct because they are brought by people belonging to different political persuasions. And why are these surveys unpolluted? Because the moneyed political party that commissioned the “uncommissioned” surveys have not yet tampered with the results. Your 36 percent showing has not yet been changed to 0.6 percent; and your number six in the top 12 has not yet been changed to number 60 out of 60 senatorial candidates sampled. And these are the results released to media, surveys labeled as “uncommissioned” surveys. Really?

In my few years in politics, this is what I have also learnt. When you begin to rise in the surveys and the people’s awareness, if not their affections, your future competitors will do everything for you not to be included in their slates. Especially if your kalabans are also young, re-electionists, and pretend to be bright. They see you as a potential rival if not now, as senator, then for the Vice-Presidential derby in 2016. Yes, sir, some of our senatorial candidates are now aspiring to be in the Top Three because they are angling for the VP slot in 2016. You don’t prepare to be VP or President in one year. You prepare for that beginning with the previous elections – six years before.

In my few years in politics, this is what I have also learnt. Those who are into the NGO groups, who are supposed to be bleeding hearts and liberal-minded, are also consumed with envy when they see your political star rise. Why, is it my fault if they also ran before as senators and ended up as kulelat? It is not my fault if they have lost not only their popularity, but also their hair.

In my few years in politics, this is what I have also learnt. Many will pay lip service to helping the poor, but really, do they? One of my closest friends is an Ateneo professor, and he told me last week that class is what divides this country, even in the presidential race. The dark heart of poverty lies at the core of the political messages blazoned on your TV screens. But really, who among them is for the poor?

The son of elite democracy? The son of the Tondo slums? The alleged son of Tondo? The son of dynastic democracy? The son of a religious empire? The daughter of a business empire? The motor mouth from Olongapo?

As Miriam Defensor Santiago would put it, in her La Paz, Iloilo-Ann Arbor, Michigan-St. Hilda College of Oxford accent: “Oh, come on!”


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