Searching for candidates

By Modesto P. Sa-onoy

The search for candidates for next year’s election does not apply to Bacolod City or to Occidental Negros. Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia is sticking to his post with all his might and money as he expects a formidable foe. His challenger is possibly his only opponent. If this one-on-one expected electoral contest materializes, Bacolod will experience a political fight as never before. Leonardia is already marshalling every media he controls to protect him, but social media is a tool he can’t pressure or buy.

There is probably no contest in the province as the leading political groups had early on decided in supporting incumbent Governor Eugenio “Bong” Lacson. We also have not heard of anyone challenging the governor. The fight in the other towns and cities will be “normal”, nothing to be upsetting.

At the national level, the search is on for the candidate that will unseat the dominance of the Duterte dynasty that could be transported from Davao. The Duterte-Duterte tandem for the presidency and vice presidency riled many people but the Duterte crowd pushes for it. These guys need to keep a Duterte in power, not for the sake of the nation and our democratic political system, but to protect and even enhance their gains from the present administration.

President Duterte is playing coy, a tactic that served him well in 2016 but this time the game is different and this tactic has been exposed. Of course, some of his followers are still on it hoping it would still work.

Sen. Manny Pacquiao is reported to have already set aside P50 million in a public relations campaign to create a groundswell for him to take over after Duterte. However even before he could take off, his rivals within the PDP-Laban are already sabotaging his plans. Perhaps P100 million will cure the rift.

Many do not consider him of presidential caliber. He might be an expert in knocking down his rival in the ring but does he have the competence to address the complexities of national and international issues?

Okay, Corazon Aquino had less competence in governance than Manny Pacquiao and she won the election. She won, not because she showed competence but she exploited the death of her husband, Benigno Aquino, Jr. Her handlers knew the weakness of the Filipino voters, emotional and irrational on matters of this kind. That was the same “qualification” of Vice President Leni Robredo. It is a bizarre mentality of the electorate, one reason we progress then retrogress.

The push for the Duterte family continuity and exploitation of Pacquiao’s money and popularity do not speak well of our politicians. Nobody is measuring these two factions on serious matters as competence, honesty, probity and agenda for the common good. These politicians are for themselves – who can give them the highest returns for their investments.

Is this nation bereft of people who can lead?

I believe we have many but the political manipulators see them as not the right persons for national leadership because they have no billions to spend and inclined to corrupt the electorate to get back their investments.

And so the right people who could lift us out of the national malaise drawback from service of the nation. Many have been discouraged and thus leave the electoral field to the unworthy.

Will we ever come out of this quagmire?

This is an extremely difficult question. There are groups seeking for the right person but so far their field of choice is limited to the moneyed and the manipulative – to heck with the nation in distress. Power and wealth and more of them in elective office are the primary goal.

The search for national candidates especially for the office of the President and Vice President is going on in earnest. Several names are mentioned and recently the name of Senator Ping Lacson was included. He had been on it for some time, as did Antonio Trillanes and Bongbong Marcos. They however carry a certain stigma that makes it difficult for people to make a choice.

Then there are two young, dynamic, tested and untainted mayors: Manila’s Mayor Isko Moreno and Mayor Vico Sotto of Pasig. We need this kind of young, energetic, competent and most of all, honest President.