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BEYOND SIGHT: The Old, The New and The Never Mind

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By Monsi A. Serrano

Nothing is as exciting as the Philippine election. We had a harbinger of how the election 2016 would be according to the standard setforth by the “trapos” (traditional politicians) as well as of those delusional opportunists who believe that they can extricate from the sticky crap the hungry and homeless people during their filing of COC (Certificate of Candidacy). It was a sort of circus coupled with a touch of the all-star-studded event at the Commission on Election.

Interestingly, there are old recycled non-performing candidates who are trying their luck in the August Chamber. There are new ones who are interestingly qualified except for those who have been living in the world of fantasy of showbiz. Then there are outgoing “China egg” government officials who are remiss to do their duties and responsibilities under the present administration as cabinet secretaries who have the gall to aspire for a senate seat in order to protect their interests. They treat the election as a revolving door which they can pass through again and be in a different realm of the world. Don’t get me wrong, I am not making a hasty generalization about them. I am going to make exceptions which I will state here later on.

As I mentioned in my previous column, back in the Roman time the Senate is composed of old and wise people who are part of the advisers of the king. Mind the old and wise. Although the descriptive criteria is really a non-sequitur posse. However, in the strictest sense of the meaning, that is the very essence of being a member of the Senate, to be old and wise. Can we say that this still applies today? The glaring truth says no.

All hell breaks loose when the 1987 Constitution was ratified came into being. It has gone too extreme coming from a dictatorial regime to an extremely democratic country that paved the way to a lot of leniencies on the part of the “People Power Revolutionary Government” under the tutelage of the late President Cory Aquino. There was a seeming blunder in the drafting and ratification of the 1987 Constitution by allowing people to enjoy so much freedom without considering that freedom is not absolute and is always tied up with responsibilities. The 1987 Constitution was done in haste, only four (4) months, and as inevitable, “there’s waste in haste”.

Unknown to many during the 1987 Constitutional Convention, there was already a foretaste of the showbiz touch from the very start. This was in the selection of the delegates of Aquino who appointed 50 members to the Commission and including the multi-awarded film director Lino Brocka. Don’t get me wrong, I am not looking down on those who are in showbiz nor underestimating their capability and competency. But we have to understand that in other countries, those who take part in the drafting and ratifying of the constitution come are those who have the legal background, economic expertise, among others but definitely not showbiz! Do you call a doctor to fix your car or do you call a mechanic when you are sick?

Of course, you don’t ask for the obvious, right? I am expecting that our voting populace would somehow mature now, after putting the likes of Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada in the Senate. But it looks like the “petitio principii” is happening and this is indicated by the kind of candidates we have. I tell you, it is easier to become a politician here in the Philippines than to become a janitor. Let me enumerate to you the qualifications for Philippine President and Vice-President, Natural born citizen of the Philippines, Registered voter, Able to read and write, at least 40 years of age on the day of election and resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding the election. While the qualifications for the Philippine Senators are as follows, Natural born citizen of the Philippines, at least 35 years old on the day of the election, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than 2 years immediately preceding the day of the election. As for the janitor, here are the qualifications, male or female up to 29 years old, at least College level and with 1-year experience in janitorial service. Do you get my point? Isn’t that funny and insulting? No wonder other people mock us and call us “Banana Republic”, it is because of our own undoing. We keep on electing idiots in the government. We are starstruck by their charm, popularity and sanctimonious pronouncements using God’s name in vain and for personal gain.

On May 2016, we are our own boss. We can make or break our future and the future of our children, and our children’s children. Our vote is sacred, don’t sell it. If you have relatives and friends who are likely to believe the empty promises of these politicians courting them, educate them. It is your moral responsibility to share what you know. Guide them and help them to become critical thinkers by providing them truthful information about each candidate’s qualifications. Let us not be swayed by the popularity and let us not also be carried away by their charm.

Remember, there are old, new and never mind candidates. As for me, for the old ones, I will vote for Gordon, Lacson, Osmeña and Recto. For the new ones, it would be Ople, Alunan, De Lima, Pagdilao and Colmenares. Gordon is an action man, his records speak for himself. And for me, he is a Presidential material who can transform the country for where we should really go. Lacson on the other hand is a disciplinarian. He is a no-nonsense guy. He may be controversial, but I strongly believe that his iron fist is what we need today. While Osmeña and Recto have been very good fiscalizers in the Senate and for the people not for the administration. The underrated Toots Ople is a true advocate of OFWs’ welfare. She has no pretenses and if you compare her with those fake OFW advocates and exist to collect money to support their so-called advocacy. With 100 pesos per OFW, how many OFWs have been paying and yet don’t get anything from their group? Then we have the soft-spoken, brilliant and another action man, Raffy Alunan. He is not a trapo and the very reason why he joins the Senate race is that people prompted him to run. He can make a difference. Even no longer in public office for more than 20 years, he has shown seriousness in fighting for our sovereignty and put up a group the West Philippine Coalition where he educates a lot of Filipino who are not cognizant of the implication of letting China occupy our territories. Then the ferocious, Leila De Lima. I call her the lady with balls. While at first, I didn’t like her because she seemed to be publicity hungry, but the lady knows whereof she speaks. She didn’t succumb to pressure even if it would antagonize an influential religious group and at the same time, displease the President. She knows where the buck should stop. That makes her admirable. Then another no-nonsense is the former CIGD Chief and Lawyer, Sam Pagdilao. Fondly called as “SIR TSIP”, Pagdilao is not just another “supercop” but also a brilliant lawyer and a team player. He believes in the importance of the community’s role in fighting crime. Apart from this, he was also part of the group that asked the House leadership to make a parallel investigation in order to determine what really transpired in the Mamasapano massacre. Together with Pangasinan 2nd District Congressman Pol Bataoil, Acedillo and Alejano, all members of the Saturday group of the House of Representatives did not vote for the passing of BBL. Last but not the least, the misunderstood Neri Colmenares. Why did I say misunderstood? Colmenares belongs to the leftist group, Bayan Muna. While I am very biased against any leftist group and at one time I even said, “The Left Can Never Be Right”. However, Colmenares is a different breed. He is a very principled man and not a radical. Colmenares is a human rights lawyer and a real fighter. He was one of the prosecutors in the impeachment trial of resigned Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, as well as the prosecution of the fertilizer scam case and the Euro generals case. He is also a strong supporter of the FOI (Freedom Of Information) Bill which Noynoy Aquino deliberately neglected but used it as a strategy to get the support of the voters and lawmakers who want to make that FOI be made into a law. The only thing I didn’t like about him is his penchant for attacking the US government in all its dealings with the Philippines while he turned blind to China’s poaching. Just the same, if he will be in Senate, there is a check and balance between the ruling and opposing camps and balance in the Senate is a must.

The last and the least on my list are those brightly shining superstars. While it is their right to run, (knowing that in our country it is easier to become a President, Vice President, Senator, or Congressman than to be a janitor), let us not be bedazzled by their popularity. They can run for governor, vice-governor, mayor or even vice-mayor, but please they should all realize that executive functions are far different from legislative. Should we spend time considering voting for these delusional candidates by just banking on their popularity? I think you all know what is the best answer and it should be, “NEVER MIND”.

As Aristotle rightly put it, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

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