By BENJIE OLIVEROS
MANILA — There are numerous news items related to it; television programs are teeming with it; political parties and groups are already gearing for it. The 2010 elections are in the air.
Senators Manny Villar and Mar Roxas were early in declaring their intention to run for the presidency. That is why television viewers are bombarded with commercials featuring Villar assisting distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and Roxas taking over a pedicab from a boy. There is also the “Ganito kami sa Makati, sana ganun din sa buong bansa” of Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay. Likewise are the commercials of Chiz Escudero and Loren Legarda, and the Philippine National Red Cross feature of Richard Gordon. A recent addition to the presidential race is defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro who has television clips featuring the National Disaster Coordinating Council, which he heads. Bayani Fernando seems content with his stern-looking posters pasted all over Metro Manila and in some provinces.
But these are not all. There are also election-related commercials by those seeking a senatorial seat such as Juan Ponce Enrile and other unknown aspirants who most probably elicit reactions of “Who the hell is that!” from viewers.
News stories are also full of it: Vice President Noli de Castro playing coy about his plans; Teodoro and his wife threatening to bolt the administration party — which he has not yet joined in the first place — if he fails to get its endorsement and boasting about having the backing of “powerful people”; former president Joseph Estrada declaring his intention to run for the presidency while twisting his interpretation of the Constitution to suit his desire for political vindication; Villar being investigated by the Senate ethics committee; the merger of two administration parties Lakas and Kampi.
And to think the elections are still about a year away. For sure, these irritating commercials would multiply toward the end of the year — that is, if the elections would push through.
More irritating than the commercials of presidential and senatorial aspirants are the incessant attempts by the Arroyo administration to amend the 1987 Constitution, popularly called as cha-cha (Charter Change), through a constituent assembly, with the intention of having both houses of Congress voting as one. The administration congressmen led by the president’s son Rep. Mikey Arroyo refuse to give up. They keep on declaring that the cha-cha efforts are dead — only to revive them another day. No amount of assurances from Malacañang could assuage the public for as long as the House resolutions pertaining to charter change are not rescinded.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said the merger of Lakas and Kampi is proof that the elections would push through. Sure, the elections would take place. The only question is when.
But there is some hope amid the irritating electioneering by would-be candidates and the exasperating maneuvers of the Arroyo administration to postpone it. It is worth noting to see the proliferation of groups seeking change in the 2010 elections.
There is a group campaigning for the youth to register and vote, and there is the usual campaign of the Catholic Church for responsible voting. There is the silent majority movement, although it is not very clear about what it wants to achieve. Another group is campaigning for an “education president” and a “genuine education agenda.” There is also the group, called Kaya Natin, of Pampanga governor Ed Panlilio, Isabela governor Grace Padaca, Naga City mayor Jesse Robredo and Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. And there is the Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change with its patriotic program. Pagbabago has a very clear and comprehensive program, which it intends to pursue beyond 2010 to achieve a “decisive break from the poverty-ridden, unjust and corrupt social system that grew worse even after two (Edsa) uprisings.”
The proliferation of these groups shows that people no longer want the same fraud-ridden elections nor are they content with a mere change in people occupying positions in government, but who came from the same crop of traditional politicians. There is a strong clamor for change. And the Arroyo government would have to confront these groups if it rams through cha-cha or if it would have the effrontery to proceed with its plan B: the declaration of another state of emergency.
Let us just hope that these reform-minded groups would pursue their agenda beyond 2010 and push the candidates to clarify their stand on issues as well as their program of government. Then, perhaps, the race toward the 2010 elections would somehow be better than what it has always been: a circus. (Bulatlat.com)