"Building a nation is an arduous task."
Tomorrow, February 12, the 90-day official campaign period for senatorial candidates and party-list groups will commence. It will also be the start of my taking leave from writing this thrice-a-week column.
Being the first nominee of ABAKADA Partylist (108 on the ballot) I am prohibited from engaging directly in any manner or form, say as columnist or program host, in any media outlet as that may be considered as having undue advantage over other parties in this election. Although it can be argued that it is not I personally but the party that is running, I have been advised by our lawyers to just recuse myself lest it is raised as an issue which can detract us from our efforts to enjoin the public in promoting our advocacies for a more progressive, educated and informed citizenry.
Our group, representing basically the education, training and human resources development sector, has been voted twice in Congress in the 14th and 16th Congresses - and I have been privileged to be its nominee on both terms. Without meaning to oversell ourselves, our record speaks for itself. We have been party to a number of initiatives meant to provide better and easier access to quality education and training.
We aware of their importance in the task of nation building and in the lifting the masses of our people from the bondage of ignorance, inequality and poverty. We have also been in the forefront of exposing corruption and abuse of power in government and the conspiracy of anti-people operations perpetuated by various interest groups and their cohorts in government.
To name all of these undertakings would take this entire editorial page so suffice it to say that in the course of our stint in Congress, I would say we have kept faith with our basic advocacies to serve with integrity for the betterment of the lives of the masses of our people. We somehow did our share in the greater task of nation building.
We have worked hard and earned our keep with honor and dignity. So, as we embark once again in earning the trust and confidence of our people for yet another stint in the House of Representatives we can only hope and pray that by God’s grace we will overcome.
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As in all midterm elections worldwide the voting public is faced with a basic concern: will they affirm the direction and the manner by which the current party in power has been governing. If the answer is yes, then they vote for the candidates endorsed by the governing party.
If no, then they vote the opposition.
That happens if there is such a defined dichotomy as in countries such as the United States where the two-party system, Democrats and Republicans, remains in place and works just fine. In that just-concluded election, the American voters were split almost down the line.
It was almost a 50-50 split in the local fights, i.e., governors and state assemblies, a split which was carried over in the House and Senate races. The Democrats took back the House while the Republicans maintained their hold in the Senate. This divided government does not bode well for President Trump and even the American people.
The toxicity of Washington politics has been such that for the first time, the Congress failed to deliver a budget thus ensuring the longest shutdown in history. Such toxicity engenders divided government and by experience a divided people and, of course, unwarranted gridlock.
With that situation and with the looming 2020 presidential polls on everybody’s radar, this can only mean that there will be no fresh initiatives whether on the domestic or foreign fronts can issue from the White House. The only thing for certain at this point is for both Republicans and Democrats trying to play out their “winning plans” to the detriment of responsible governance.
Already, we are hearing “impeach Trump” as a major battle cry for the Democrats - an opprobium being countered with vigor by the Trumpers with blitzkriegs such as the fight for the border wall, stretching out the “trade war” with China, on-again,off-again withdrawals from Syria and the other US engaged regional wars, the unfriending of and assault on Venezuela and possibly Iran and, of late, the befriending of North Korea while unwinding the Vietnam phobia. Such happens in divided governments.
I am discussing the above to emphasize the point that a lot of things are at stake in our own midterm elections. While we do not have as yet such toxicity as there is in the US it is very possible that the same can ensue depending on the results in May. If President Duterte manages to get most of those whom he endorses to win, especially in Congress then we have every chance to proceed with all deliberate speed with his three-pronged agenda in the remaining years of his term: Build, Build, Build, a more realistic and responsible “war on drugs,” and a more vigorous anti-corruption and anti-bureaucratic/incompetent governance drive.
If he fails to get at least a majority of those he endorses into positions of power, then we should expect a slowing down of the implementation and, necessarily the realization of the administration’s agenda for peace and development. Given such possibilities, it behooves our leaders and those running for elective office to engage our people and ensure a vigorous, factualand responsible discussion of the choices at hand.
Responsible engagements through all available platforms, especially social media, instead of the traditional song-and-dance gimmickry, should be the norm to ensure that our people get immersed in educated and informed choices. For them and all of us to stand up and be counted as we embark on, we repeat, that arduous task of building a nation we can all be proud of.