Lesser evilBy Conrado de Quiros
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) has finally dropped the three “common candidates,” Chiz Escudero, Loren Legarda, and Grace Poe Llamanzares. “We tried our best to accommodate them,” said UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco. “We know that the LP, through Sen. Franklin Drilon, has warned them repeatedly about joining our election activities. We have held on to their assurances that they will join us sooner or later. (But) public statements have been made by at least one of them ruling it out.”
So goodbye and good luck.
Well, it’s not the stuff of drama, it’s the stuff of melodrama. It’s the story of a kabit, or mistress, who doesn’t mind sharing somebody else’s husband and the jealous wife who would hear nothing of it—stick to home or leave, it’s one bed or none at all. The shared husband of course being the common candidates, the kabit being UNA and the jealous wife being Team PNoy. With no small ironies: “Una” means first, but which in this story doesn’t greatly mind being second. An arrangement Erap, who is one of the guiding lights of UNA—if having a harem is a natural qualification to being a light—is thoroughly familiar and literally at home with.
What in God’s name did the two “coalitions” disputing the contest think when they adopted the “common candidates” to begin with? That come the campaign period, Escudero, Legarda and Llamanzares would appear in Plaza Miranda with P-Noy and his team, and in Cebu with Jojo Binay, Erap and Juan Ponce Enrile and their group during their miting de avance and in various sorties afterward? That when the Team PNoy candidates hurled accusations of corruption and opportunism against UNA, and UNA did the same thing to the Team PNoy candidates, they would join in the chorus or smile in sheepish agreement? That when the photographers and cameramen came to take photos and videos, they would pose, arm-in-arm, kapit-bisig, alternately with the candidates of Team PNoy and those of UNA, vowing eternal unity, walang iwanan, death to their enemies?
The existence of the “common candidates,” however that existence has now been terminated, exposes the utter silliness of the coming elections. Coming off from the elections of 2010, which had principle, conviction, belief, idealism, passion, loftiness written on every furrow or wrinkle of them, this is a fall so spectacular you can hear the thud from here to Sabah.
Team PNoy had a chance to make itself look good by drawing a sharp line between itself and UNA by hewing to the spirit of 2010. Instead, it forsook principle for expedience, idealism for pragmatism, taking on presumably “winnable candidates” like Cynthia Villar and Jamby Madrigal and adopting the “common candidates” who are now solely theirs. Neither has greatly helped. The first two are not doing particularly well, which is no surprise. Pinoy voters may not react strongly to ideas but they react strongly to perceived disloyal behavior. Tito Sotto lost in 2007 by running under Gloria’s party after being Da King’s campaign manager in 2004.
And though the erstwhile “common candidates” are virtual shoo-ins, their existence has not been good for the PNoy team as a whole. The voters are not going to miss the irony of the name “PNoy” affixed to a team that has Loren Legarda as its leading candidate. They would be hard put to reconcile it with “daang matuwid,” with all its connotations of straight and narrow, fervent dedication and unswerving loyalty.
As things stand, the only thing that commends Team PNoy, or at least some of its members, to the voters, is not that it is a lot better but that UNA is a lot worse.
Hell, the latter is positively scary.
At the very least, that is so because it is a hodgepodge of political stragglers, former Arroyo loyalists who once vowed undying loyalty to her (such undying as defined by people like Enrile) and one candidate who has no business being a candidate at all, having made a mockery of elections. That candidate is Migz Zubiri, an ex-senator who got ex-ed because he was found out to have no right to be senator at all. Specifically, for cheating Koko Pimentel of four years of his life, or his post. Officially of course Zubiri was not kicked out of the Senate, he resigned. But only because the noose was tightening, he dodged it by going away—and not without portraying his departure as a noble act.
It is a testament to the political culture that the public bought it, that Erap, Zubiri’s patron, lambasted Koko instead for having no pakikisama because he wouldn’t let bygones be bygones and sleep with the enemy. It is a testament to the political culture that Zubiri should be clinging to the Magic 12 instead of being dismissed outright by the electorate. Zubiri alone is the single biggest argument against voting for UNA. What kind of governance can be offered by a group that is perfectly willing to bless and reward electoral fraud?
At the very most, that is so because UNA’s leadership is scary. Enrile, Erap, Binay: The first distinguished himself for serving faithfully or faithlessly, take your pick, the two most illegitimate, corrupt, tyrannical leaders in this country’s history. The second was ousted by the people for corruption in every possible way, not least rottenness and decay, which was the state he brought government to, and was subsequently convicted by the courts for it. And the third, well, he has been just as willing to trade principle for expedience, decency for compromise, if not more so. He has made his bed, he should lie in it.
What is this, these are the people we want to entrust the country to? What is this, after P-Noy come the Three Stooges? No, these elections do not present a choice between good and bad, decency and rottenness, loftiness and lowliness.
It’s just a choice between lesser evils.
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