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Paraguay’s Father Lugo and our own Among Ed

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:48:00 04/06/2009

Filed Under: Churches (organisations), Politics, Civil & Public Services

CONRADO DE QUIROS, IN HIS March 31 column, said that he will still support Fr. Eddie ?Among Ed? Panlilio as a presidential aspirant despite some valid objections. He cited Cory Aquino and Barack Obama as models for a Panlilio presidency. But a closer model would be Paraguay?s President Fernando Lugo, an SVD priest and diocesan bishop.

Paraguay closely parallels the Philippine situation. The nation was a Spanish colony for hundreds of years and is 90 percent Roman Catholic. Around 40 percent of its people live below the poverty line. Ten percent of the populace controls 60 percent of the land and accounts for 44 percent of the national income. There is a glaring social inequality between the rich and the poor. Unemployment rate is 16 percent, and the economy is largely agricultural.

Lugo summarized his faith in Paraguay and his people thus: ?Without doubt it is possible to resurrect a country like Paraguay. We are a people of hope, of faith, and I won?t be the one killing that hope of the people. I do believe we will resurrect this country, a country deeply drowned in misery, poverty and discrimination. Because I do believe Paraguay could be different. I do not lack faith in this flock. Where there is a scream coming from the poor people, where there is sweat, where people are shoeless, we will be there. Because in such people there is a resurrection; if that exists there, then there is resurrection for Paraguay.?

Substituting ?the Philippines? for ?Paraguay,? the quotation would perfectly fit our current situation.

Lugo?s political strategy was simple. In October 2007, he became a member of the tiny Christian Democratic Party of Paraguay in order to have a political party. That party integrated a coalition of more than a dozen opposition parties, social movements and socio-civic organizations. This coalition then mounted a nationwide political campaign which won for Lugo the presidency in the April 2008 elections, thus breaking the 61-year monopoly of the elitist and oligarchic Colorado Party. Lugo did the trick in less than a year.

United, we Filipinos can also break the monopolistic and oligarchic political rule that has enslaved us since our independence 64 years ago. We have more than a year before the next presidential elections. Already there are a lot of movements and groups in the Philippines and Filipinos abroad clamoring for a new brand of politics, rejecting traditional politics. Among Ed may just be the rallying point to bring all these forces together to win the presidency. This early, he is already drawing fire from the trapos who want to preserve the present political oligopoly. A good sign.

Can we do a Paraguay, put an end to traditional, corrupting and greedy politics, and usher in a new age of authentic democracy by the people, for the people and of the people?

The answer to that lies in our political will as a people.


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