The Carnival Begins

One thing any observer will have to admit about Philippine politics, especially during election season, is that it really, truly never has dull moments.

I mean, look at the so-called United Opposition. Even before filing for candidacy begins, the group was plagued by defections of some very high ranking members. As in, “inner circle” kind of members. I’m talking about the very public exits of Tito Sotto, Tessie Aquino and Kit Tatad.

In the Tatad’s case, not only was it very public, but very vocal as well: the man practically paid for two full pages in the Philippine Daily Inquirer so his letter to Erap would be printed in its full, unedited glory.

Talk about your “Oh-M-Gee” situations…

My paranoia (Mentat Training can sometimes take the fun out of relishing little victories like this) is telling me its quite possible we’re all being taken for a ride here; I mean, look at this: Sotto, Tessie and Tatad? Enrile bolting the Opposition camp is something that totally went by everybody – I mean, duh, right? – but Tatad?

Well, that’s my paranoia talking. I still remember the battles we fought against those three, and the way Aquino-Oreta danced after the Second Envelope incident in 2001. I know that politics, especially here in the Philippines is more concerned with “permanent interests” than standing one’s grounds on the basis of principles and ideals, but, really, there are just some things you do not do. How can anyone who fought on the side of Truth and all that’s decent in 2001 even think about standing besides the likes of Dancing Queen herself?

Apparently, the damage Gloriagate has done to the already-damaged political culture of the country is far, far, greater than even my worst nightmares. Musical chairs is a common factor of Philippine politics, but the realignments happening on the eve of the 2007 elections just… boogles the mind. It also makes whatever is left of my idealism want to drink itself to death.

UNO has always been more an alliance of political interests rather than a union of ideals and alternative programs. Anybody who still thinks UNO was about the poor and all that should have his or her head examined. The 2007 version of UNO is no different than the one we defeated in 2004, although I’d have to say, Chiz Escudero aside, it really has dredged the bottom of crassness and personal political agendas this time.

Oh, yes, I’m voting for Chiz; if that expensive and worthless institution that’s the Senate should continue, then perhaps we should elect there someone with sense. And sensibility. Escudero might be an oppositionist, but at least he’s decent about it. And consistent. Which is more than I can say about the Drilon cabal of the LP.

I mean, just look at it: NOYNOY AQUINO IN THE UNO?! What the hell, right?

I’d have understood if Drilon’s cabal decided to go it on their own; they had this big production a couple of days ago where they announced their so-called lineup for the Senatorial elections. That’s ok, even better, if truth be told. They’ve been harping for some time now about some so-called “Third Force” and it would seem they’re quite ready to put their money where their mouth is. Heck, who knows, since a good portion of the public still thinks they’re “good guys” (ah, my misguided public… if only I could show you the Truth about your so-called heroes, how they lie, how they suppress and twist the Truth for their own personal agendas and the Republic be damned…), then perhaps some of them could have made a good showing at the polls this May.

But, no… they had to insist – assuming Kit Tatad’s open letter is true – that Noynoy be included in the UNO lineup.

UNO. Erap’s group. The group we fought from 2000 – 2001. The group Abad and Pangilinan stymied during the canvassing of votes back in 2004. Odd though, when you think about it: a year after the canvassing, the same people that defended Gloria’s votes were the ones who tried to oust her. If they were so sure one year later that she cheated, why were they so… ardent in keeping the opposition from doing a thorough check of the votes?

Is their hate for Gloria so great that ideals truly mean nothing to them anymore?

And who was it that convinced Gloria to admit to making a call to Garci, despite her adviser’s recommendations? “Do a Clinton”, I think the selling point was to poor little Glo. And she did because, at the end of it all, she trusted the people who were egging her on to say “I’m sorry” for something virtually all politicians did anyway. She thought they were telling her the right thing to do to defuse the crisis, that these people, the “civil society” contingent of her Cabinet, being morally upright members of society (or so it seems at the time), were telling her its okay to do this. Instead, she got more flak, and I didn’t see any of her CivSoc Cabinet members try to back her up after. Which was why she angrily told the “civil society” contingent of her Cabinet that she did what they wanted and she got more flak for it. You have to understand the little girl’s context at that moment. Information sources tell us that, political shark that she is, Glo seemed to genuinely trust her CivSoc ministers. Which was why decades of political instinct was thrown out of the window by her, on their say-so, because she thought they could do no wrong by her.

And then… they tried to oust her.

Remember that these people plunged the country – not once, but twice! – nearly into civil war on the basis of morality and decency. These people said they were the paragons; you couldn’t claim otherwise, and demand that your boss, the President, resign her office. I mean, they were her alter egos, and they practically were the vanguard of her campaign team in 2004. They resigned on the basis of what was still essentially heresay and some weird thing about their boss being more concerned with survival than serving the country. Duh. Of course Gloria was trying to survive; this country does not have a nice track record with how it deals with ousted presidents. The little girl was facing the very real possibility of getting lynched, and they weren’t helping provide the security she needed to, as they wanted, do her work.

They were essentially her shitteno, her inner circle of advisers. If massive cheating did happen in 2004, then they were in on it. At the very least, they never asked the hard questions; heck, they even stymied attempts at this, if the canvassing of 2004 was any indication.

And now they join UNO. Amazing.

About a week or two ago, Billy Esposo came out with a column in the Philippine Star that was essentially praising the Drilon Wing. The “true” LP, he called them. Of course Mr. Esposo either got his facts wrong or deliberately didn’t even check on what happened. He’s a demagogue, a PR man. A true journalist would have couched attacks against his true target – the President – with facts.

What was truly amazing was his assertion that this Drilon Wing of the LP – along with poor, I-wonder-where-his-common-sense-went Manny Villar’s Nacionalistas – represented the so-called (now officially dead) Third Force that would one-up Gloria and Erap. This was the true alternative to evil, dictatorial little Glo and corrupt lord-of-all-gambling-lords Erap.

I wonder how Esposo felt when the news came out that Noynoy Aquino was in the UNO slate?

Oh yes, the carnival has begun. And our side has yet to show its set of actors in this sordid little drama. So far, all we know is Mike (Defensor) is the only sure runner for the Senate. A contact even told me that he has a pol-ad out already and that it sucked. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t judge it.

I wish his media handlers would focus on the more worthwhile aspects of Sec. Mike. I’ ve interviewed the guy and he’s charming, witty, warm and smart. He’s the perfect foil to Chiz, for God’s sake. They should play up those qualities of him, rather than do a, uh, cheesy packaging of him designed to supposedly wow the masses.

Newsflash, publicists: the Masses are different now.

Still, its a carnival. And the days have been rather boring of late. Filipinos love elections, after all, if for no other reason that its certainly good entertainment. Never a dull moment during elections. And I bet this one will be anything but dull.

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