Sunday, December 17, 2017
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At Large

The widow and the dictator’s son

“The best person who can defeat a Marcos is a pious widow,” goes a meme I recently spotted on Facebook. It refers, obviously, to the current “contest” between BBM, otherwise known as Sen. Bongbong Marcos, and the Liberal Party’s candidate for vice president, Leni Robredo.

The meme harks back to the 1986 presidential election, where the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, despite the all-powerful machinery of government at his disposal, was ultimately defeated by the “pious” Cory Aquino, who led the ragtag forces of “People Power.”

Cold comfort at best is what this memory may lend Filipinos leery of a Marcos comeback. The most recent ABS-CBN/Pulse Asia survey shows that Marcos is currently in the lead in the vice-presidential race. Robredo, who started her campaign with single-digit awareness numbers, is close at his heels, outpacing previous leader Sen. Chiz Escudero.

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Based on his recent statement regarding this new survey finding, Marcos seems to be taking it in a magnanimous light. “The new survey is proof that our message for national unity resonates with the Filipino people,” he said.

“For years we have been ruled by divisiveness and I guess the people want to change that because Filipinos are by nature cooperative, kind and gracious. We will keep on going and work harder to spread our message to more people,” he added.

So “moving on,” bathed in the glow of reconciliation and grace, is what Bongbong’s campaign is all about, eh?

Well, he should be looking over his shoulder right now, since it seems that Robredo is fast gaining on him. Like Cory, she could yet pull an upset. Still, don’t you get the sense that we’re eternally replaying Edsa in our minds and politics?

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I am more disturbed, though, by the emergence of Rodrigo Duterte at the top of the same poll. My own reading is that the mudslinging against former survey leader Sen. Grace Poe and Vice President Jojo Binay has turned off a lot of their “soft” sympathizers, but the desire for “change” has led them to turn to the other candidate who offers something different.

Well, different Duterte certainly is. And right now, I shudder to think what a “Do-Dirty” presidency could mean for the country, more specifically for my grandchild’s generation. Even now, I must urge young parents to school their children against cursing, rude gestures, threatening people with death and injury, and jettisoning even basic decent behavior (you do not put your feet up on the table in public!).

But I take some comfort from what some cite as the survey figures at this point in the game, less than a month before the voting, in the last presidential election. Surveys can only point the way, but they are not always dead accurate, and could hold surprises on Election Day itself. I certainly hope this holds true in the case of the devilish Davao mayor.

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For your consideration. Disabled/Pilipinos with Disabilities (PWD) is running for a congressional seat under the party-list system, based on “the constitutional mandate that the weak should be given power, that the voiceless be heard and that they be enabled to become veritable lawmakers themselves.”

People with disabilities are among the sectors identified in the Party-List Law deserving of representation in the legislature, but the irony is that no party representing PWDs has ever won enough votes to make it to the House. This, despite the party’s assertion that PWDs “are the most marginalized and vulnerable sector in our society,” who are often neglected, discriminated against and underrepresented in the legislative process, even for laws that directly impact them.

The United Nations estimates that some 10 percent of any national population is composed of people with disabilities. In the Philippines, this would mean that some 9 to 10 million Filipinos are living with disability today. But without formal representation as a sector in the legislature, their voices are muted, if not ignored outright, which means their interests are seldom served by our laws and in their implementation.

As the PWD party asserts: “Through representation in Congress, persons with disabilities can push for legislation to promote and protect their rights. It is also a very important step to fight discrimination and raise general awareness about the issues persons with disabilities face daily.”

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The first nominee of the Disabled/PWD party is Michael “Mike” Barredo, a longtime leader of the sector. He was conferred the Apolinario Mabini Award for business in 1989, named one of The Outstanding Young Men for Humanitarian Service in 1992, named to the De La Salle University Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 for his contributions to national sports for the differently-abled, and named to the “Paralympic Order” from the International Paralympic Committee, the highest recognition given to individuals for their contributions to furthering the Paralympic Movement.

Barredo was also an awardee in 2013 of Victor Ludorum, “The Winner of the Games” from the International Blind Sports Federation held in Greece.

At present, Barredo cohosts two radio programs: “Daang Walang Hanggan” (Endless Road) which has been on air for over 12 years on Radyo ng Bayan (dzRB 738) every Sunday (11 a.m.-12 noon), and “Paralympic Hour,” running for 10 years now, every Wednesday (11 a.m.-12 noon) on Sports Radio (dzSR 918), advocating the rights and concerns of PWDs in sports. And should Disabled/PWD make it to the House, Barredo would become a valuable voice for the voiceless and least powerful among us.

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TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, Chiz Escudero, Cory Aquino, Disabled/Pilipinos with Disabilities, Election surveys, Elections 2016, Ferdinand Marcos, leni robredo, Mike Barredo, party-list system
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