"The momentary political honeymoon, if one could call it such, is over."
I will start this piece by recounting a dream I had last night.
A close friend and a former boss called for me (though his face was blurred in the dream), and asked if I could help two of his progeny to get elected to the Senate.
The problem is that his sons had very public quarrels, like oil and water if put together. But it was a challenge, and who knows if in the process of one political campaign ran by a conjoined strategy, whether both win or one wins and the other loses, the scions would end up being friends, something the patriarch would infinitely wish for?
The details of the dream were quite fuzzy, with images of shuttling between two nearby offices in a Metro Manila city and briefing two strong personalities on how to coordinate separate campaigns on a unified strategy.
I woke up at a little past four Tuesday morning and could not get back to sleep. Instead, I contemplated on the dream and what it possibly meant in the context of today’s contemporary events.
A few days back, I read through the Internet an expression of dismay from a young actor, Enchong Dee, and although I do not agree with the premise of his statement, he rued that “we are so divided as a nation.”
I will juxtapose that cri de coeur with what DOJ Secretary Menardo Guevarra stated after learning that Vice President Leni Robredo was yanked out from her less-than-three-week designation as co-chair of the ICAD, getting media to call her the anti-drug war czar or “czarina”. I wrote an article entitled “Czarina” last Nov. 13, and like many others, I held no high hopes about her role, considering the circumstances of the designation, a product of momentary pique turned half-serious.
The situation was muddled by statements from the spokespersons of both sides, the administration and the opposition. And so now the momentary political honeymoon, if one could call it such, is over.
Secretary Guevarra’s reaction is how every Filipino should react to the turn of events: “Personally, I feel so sad about what had happened. There was an opportunity for the administration and even the opposition to bond together and put up a united front against a common enemy which is illegal drugs.”
The cynical may not read it the way Meynard does, but men of goodwill, with intent imbued only by what is good for the nation and our people so divided, can only agree with the secretary.
* * *
The article I sent for Monday on Ping Lacson was rather long, and likely it was the reason for it having been abridged. (I base this only on the Internet version). For the sake of many who called me about the article, which they said was rather “bitin” given its title, let me print the other half of that column. Here goes:
But Ping Lacson maintained that “what is right must be kept right; what is wrong must be set right.” And jueteng was “not right.” It was illegal.
So President Erap sought to legalize jueteng, a numbers game that was as old as the late 19th century, an addiction for poor folks who could make hundreds of pesos or so on a twenty-five centavo bet. Which proved to be his jueteng-gate downfall when Chavit Singson spilled the beans and uncovered a Pandora’s jar of alleged malfeasances.
Lacson ran for senator immediately after Erap’s fall from the presidency in 2001, and won, but not after a bloody May 1 incident when the un-shod and the un-washed charged at Malacañang. It was about a week before elections, and Lacson along with his classmate Greg Honasan, also a senatorial candidate at the time, had to go into hiding after President GMA ordered their arrest.
As a senator, Lacson first accepted his share of the so-called pork barrel, the lump-sum kitty for all legislators to shower around on favored projects, but discovered anomalies in the execution of the projects—by public works personnel, or contractors, or the LGU officials, a gaggle of corruption conspiring with each other.
From then on, he denied himself the pork barrel. And from then on, he studied the intricacies of the national expenditure budget.
Each year he would expose the layers upon layers of fat hidden in the interstices of the budget, to the consternation of those who inserted them, and those who would profit from the fat.
Despite the disdain of fellow legislators in the Lower House and LGU officials who could not get favors from him, Lacson earned the respect of the electorate and has been reelected over and over again.
He is now on his third term as senator and could seek reelection come 2022, or as some would wish, for a higher post.
He tried running for president in 2004, against the “illegitimate” GMA and the “king” of Philippine movies, FPJ. Without a party and a running-mate, Lacson placed a respectable third, garnering some 3.1-million votes nationwide.
Some say he would have been president had he acceded to becoming a vice presidential candidate to the popular FPJ, who died of cerebral aneurysm seven months after the election which he “lost.” But then again, Providence does not write destiny in such manner.
Today, he is all over the news, decrying insertions of pork, poring over the minutiae of the budget, as an eagle eye trained by years of sleuthing on the ways and means by which public monies are expended.
We keep appropriating for departments which have not been able to absorb the monies we have previously allocated, he claims. So why give more, as he pored over the unspent allocations intended for three huge departments.
Will his eagle eyes, his close-guarding over the way our taxpayer money is spent be rewarded by the people with higher office in 2022?
Will he be the incorruptible strong-willed leader that would continue the political will demonstrated by Rodrigo Duterte? Or would his being a kill-joy on pork and other perks be cause for the electorate to shun him?
Vamos a ver!