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Writing on Air by Jim Paredes

Archive for April 18th, 2015

Why I am optimistic about 2016 2

Posted on April 18, 2015 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) | Updated April 19, 2015 – 12:00am

I have lived through 10 presidencies. I have participated in many elections. More than any election in the past, I am seeing people worrying about who will replace P-Noy in 2016. And they fret because elections are just a little over a year away.

The specter of a Binay presidency is leading many people I know to panic and pessimism. They worry that all the gains of this administration, particularly against corruption, will be lost and we will be back to the bad days of baluktot na daan.

Over the years, I have learned a few things about elections and politics and I am not anywhere near panicking about it. Here’s why.

1) One week is a long time in politics. And one year is very long. Politics by its very nature is volatile. Situations can and do change rapidly. Nothing is sure as of now. And with Binay’s ratings falling drastically, who knows what his chances will be by next year?

As of now, we really do not know who will actually run so any speculation is quite premature. Until people actually file their candidacies, nothing is certain.

The moment people officially proclaim their candidacies, watch how quickly the landscape will change. P-Noy decided to run nine months before elections. If I remember right, Binay was not many months ahead in declaring too.

Remember how two years before the last election, we were so sure that Manny Villar would be the next president? He certainly looked like a sure winner. He had the popularity and the resources to carry out a massive campaign. But then, life (and death) had other plans for the country.

2) The candidate who can get the support of People Power will be formidable and will win. Writer Paolo Coelho wrote that lightning never hits the same place twice. But if it does, you can expect it to hit a third time. Cory became president riding the tidal wave of People Power. People Power was a new phenomenon in politics then. And it was real. After that turning point in our history, it happened again. This same phenomenon that made her president swept her son into power.

And like Coelho said, it is not farfetched that it could happen a third time. People Power can detect those who take the presidency seriously without the lust for power.

I once encountered a politician who was very skeptical about people power. He doubted it because he simply did not understand it. He kept asking me, “Okay, who do I talk to in this so-called People Power group?” I had to explain that People Power is not one person or an organized group. It is a vibe, a wave among citizens that recognizes leaders who are sincere and true and gives its support to them.

He was clearly traditionally educated in politics. He could not get out of his understanding of the old system of patronage. I could sense he was looking for the “ward leaders” of People Power in order to win their support. But People Power moves spontaneously, on its own energy, without instructions from anyone.

When Cory and then P-Noy ran, people spontaneously made posters, leaflets, even campaigned house-to-house and raised funds by themselves. Sure, there were organized fundraisers and leaders, but the ordinary people who were not part of any political party or affiliated with organized groups took their own initiatives to make sure their collective will and effort would win the presidency for their candidates. They spontaneously organized themselves to make it happen.

A lot of politicians do not understand this phenomenon. They think they can buy People Power, or else replicate it, harness it or even own it.

3) Many people believe that the majority of Filipinos will sell their votes. Many are cynical that money will entirely rule the elections. I am very sure that money will be a big factor in 2016. But I am also sure that many Filipinos have learned from bitter experience the consequence of selling their votes as they did in the past.

Just as many of us are cynical, I also meet many who are more hopeful and believe that Filipinos have become more discerning. We all want the Philippines to move forward economically, socially and politically and we are now demanding more transparency and effective governance.

More than ever, as netizens, we are discussing the issues that matter to us, thanks to social media. While many voices are loud and strident, there are those who feign anger to promote the interests of discredited leaders who never did anything when they were in power. But people are catching on and many are not buying it.

I belong to this group who believe we have become smarter through the years. I am optimistic that a decent candidate will emerge and save the day for reform in the Philippines. And he will be supported.

4) The last thing I want to say is this: China with its massive resources will surely back a presidential candidate who will protect its interests in the Philippine Sea. Watch out for the wannabe who has already called for a joint venture with China in our own territorial waters.

He’s the candidate we should not vote for.

  • April 2015
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