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Friday , 21 January 2022

Election fever is heating up

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Benjie de Ubago
Benjie de Ubago is a writer contributor to several publications. She was awarded the Premier’s Multicultural Media Lifetime Achievement Award in NSW. Check out www.filipin-oz.com for more of her articles.

Filipinos have a penchant for politics. However, our love for drama and celebrities is far more! Maybe it’s the need to feel involved or the need for diversion. But combining both politics and celebrities is a recipe for disaster.  

Philippine elections are eight months away (May 2022) and as of the 8 October deadline, all candidates have now officially filed for candidacy. And the election fever is heating up! Voters have started to rattle their cages for the candidate of their choice. The jokes are trickling in fast and insults have started to fly. 

First up, there’s the  Ping Lacson-Tito Sotto tandem for President and VP, respectively. Both are Senate veterans with Lacson having served as Director-General of the Philippine National  Police and Tito Sotto as the incumbent Senate President. Sotto was endorsed by Duterte himself during his last SONA speech.

As predicted, Manny Pacquiao, the much-loved boxing champion turned Senator has thrown his gloves into the political arena for a fight for the Presidential title. He picked former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza to be his running mate. Pacquiao vows to resolve poverty with God’s help (of course) though he may not know exactly how. 

Isko Moreno Demagoso seems to have done well as Mayor of Manila; he hasn’t warmed his seat yet. He’s declared his premature presidential bid with a not-so-popular running mate Dr. Willie Ong.  Moreno is, of course, another actor-turned-politician who’s had his face plastered on billboards around Manila as the brand ambassador for ‘Bench’, Belo, Jag Jeans and other brands. After saying in January that he was not running has raised eyebrows among fans.  Another worrying factor is Moreno’s political strategist Lito Tan Banayo who was the Chairman of the Manila Economic & Cultural Office in Taiwan – a Duterte appointee. I guess one has to connect the dots to see who and where his name leads to. 

Of course, there’s the insatiable BongBong Marcos, the son of the former author of Martial Law, Ferdinand Marcos. He incessantly aims to restore the spirit of “nationhood” and reclaim whatever he thinks still belongs to his father. Apparently, BBM had hoped to have for his Vice President, President Duterte, who amusingly declared he was running as VP of Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao. There was much speculation for “Run, Inday, run” for the position. This would seal the north-south partnership. Unfortunately for BBM, Duterte flipped two days before the deadline and Sara refused to run leaving BBM in the lurch without a running mate. 

However, Duterte’s confidante and right-hand men have surprised as promised. Bong Go has filed for the post of Vice President, and shock of all shocks – Rolando “Bato” de la Rosa has declared that he’s running for President, too! Whether Bong Go attaches to BongBong or to Bato is unknown as of press time. Although deadlines are past, substitutions are still possible until 15 November.  So watch for more twists and turns to the 2022 elections. 

And at long last, Bicolandia has rejoiced with the “pink” announcement of top favourite with the unblemished reputation  – Vice President Leni Robredo who has picked Kiko Pangilinan as her running mate. Pangilinan is another veteran Senator and is, of course, married to the popular singer Sharon Cuneta. Robredo steps onto the arena with the endorsement of the 1Sambayan movement and other schools and organisations. 

Sonny Trillanes, although rumoured to run as Leni’s VP has admirably given way for the more winnable candidates. He will run as Senator under Leni’s line-up. Other Senatorial candidates who have declared include: Allan Cayetano, Ralph Recto and Chiz  Escudero. Vilma Santos is not running for any position. 

It’s still early in the game, and there’s bound to be a few more twists and surprises. Amusingly, résumés are being inflated and/or revamped with a few splices of “University” added in even when they do not match their personas.  Hey, someone even included Harvard.  A friend reminded me that there was a Harvard school on Taft Avenue near De La Salle during the 70s. 

What is evident is our regionalistic tendencies – Ilocanos for BongBong; Bicolanos for Robredo; Visayans for Moreno and Mindanao for PacMan. Dutertes will get Mindanao and whatever supporters they have left. A celebrity, of course, would pull in a much wider audience. Most obvious are the inflated egos at play. Rather than uniting and consolidating votes, more candidates simply mean dividing the votes. Everyone thinks they can be President and their respective supporters simply jump on the bandwagon and go rah! rah! rah!  without sparing a thought for the consequences. Forget logic, critical thinking and analysis! No one assesses themselves to see whether they possess the basic qualities and mental capacity to lead the Philippines out of the doldrums. I so look forward to a debate between Pacquiao and Bato. What the Filipinos are assured of are a few more twists and turns and rabid supporters. Hang in there – you’re in for a big, bumpy ride!

Let’s divert a little first. We’ve still got to get through the New South Wales local elections which have been rescheduled for 4 December 2021.  This time, we’ll see seven Filipinos vying for council positions – Jess Diaz, Jayme Diaz, Linda Santos, Frederick Brillo, Carol Israel and Dorothy del Villar for Blacktown City Council and Vince del Gallego for Hornsby Council. Likewise, with COVID restrictions easing, we await the Filipino Communities Council of Australia (FILCCA) elections and the much-awaited changing of the guards for the Philippine Community Council of NSW elections. Who knows what their next trick will be too? 

(Go to www.filipin-oz.com to read more of Benjie de Ubago’s articles)


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