By: Resyhimar Arguelles
EVERY election takes on the usual narratives: If it’s not a slug fest where the winner is obviously a cohort of the ruling political dynasty, it would be a combat sport where the underdog squares off with the defending champ. The one who gets to rule is the one who knows what it’s like to wield real power.
It’s no secret that political contests in the Philippines are usually a power play between two opposing camps: one that supports business as usual and one that seeks to dismantle the status quo and herald a new beginning in local governance. Of course, in times like these, people will root for the familiar. Name recall makes all the difference. It doesn’t matter to voters who gets to stay long enough to build a morose legacy of impunity and political favor. All they ever want are leaders they can readily connect with – or do they?
Empires don’t last very long, especially when the people that validated your rule has had enough of the same old crap you churn out. Traditional politics has had its day, and although the national and local political arenas have been dominated by scumbags and talking parrots, at least there’s something good to expect on the horizon.
Yesterday, a new set of senators took their oath as servants of the Republic, with the expectation that they won’t serve as rubber stamps to an administration that supported their candidacies. But with the opposition beaten to a pulp, nothing gives us a guarantee that these lackeys won’t create a legacy based on impunity and a complete disregard for reason and legislative independence. You can say that this year’s election has murdered Philippine politics, but to say so leaves little room for any chance that things will take a turn for the best.
Above all the madness that has transpired this past week, Vico Sotto has become a poster boy for reason and decency in governance almost overnight. His election to the mayoralty of Pasig City came as an upset to the ruling Eusebio clan, which has dominated the city for more than 25 years. News outlets have compared Sotto’s win to David’s triumph over Goliath. The Eusebios were political heavyweights in their own right, and going against them is like trying to win a judo match with a boa constrictor. Nonetheless, Sotto is no David, and he is certainly not your typical political outsider.
But if it wasn’t his connections to the world of showbiz via his father Vic Sotto that prevailed, it was definitely his outlook in the way things should be run. Who would have thought that this young face in local politics, this offspring of Philippine comedy’s most celebrated entertainers, this outsider who is better off becoming a Bench model could speak seriously about what’s intrinsically wrong about the system itself.
And it’s not just for the sake of trying to score pogi points and charming the press with his down-to-earth demeanor. From under the surface of it, Sotto draws out what he has observed about the system which has existed but has long been shrugged off as business as usual.
Sotto impressed political elites, analysts, and woke Millennials by saying it’s time to do away with the practice of purging local government of undesirables – city employees who are aligned with the ruling administration’s rivals. Loyalty shouldn’t reside with names and faces. It should reside in no one else but the people, as it always should be. Sotto
has perhaps practiced what many vapid public servants fail to do, and that is to bring governance back to the people. Not bad for someone who grew up with a comedian for a father.
It’s personalities like Vico who know how to wield real power and it’s his example that should be emulated by young people who are passionate enough to get to the root cause of society’s problems without the need to do the budots or sell their souls to traditional politicos.
For now, the Vico Show has just started, and we can only hope for our new national leaders to tune in.