Isko, Vico and Kaka
I would assemble teams of researchers to study how Isko Moreno, Vico Sotto and Kaka Bag-ao won against formidable rivals in the recent elections, if I have time and resources.
But since I’m not endowed with resources, I throw the challenge to political scientists, university professors and college students, for them to mine the treasure trove of lessons offered by the unexpected victories of a refreshing batch of new names in our recent elections. The results in the senatorial race have disappointed civil society, but the outcomes in a number of local posts offer inspiration and promise.
Isko Moreno won against a political behemoth, Joseph Estrada, in the mayoralty race in the city of Manila. Isko posted a huge winning margin of 147,000 votes over his grizzled rival who had all the enviable appellations—incumbent city mayor of Manila, movie legend, former president, former vice president, former senator and former longtime mayor of San Juan City.
Vico Sotto ended the almost three-decade reign of a political dynasty in Pasig City when he won the mayoralty race with a huge margin of 87,000 votes over incumbent Mayor Robert Eusebio. At 29 years old, Vico was only 2 years old when the Eusebios started their reign in Pasig.
Kaka Bag-ao ended the gubernatorial reign of a religious-political dynasty in the island province of Dinagat when she defeated Benglen Ecleo. Dinagat has been uninterruptedly ruled by a Governor Ecleo from the time it became a province. This is Kaka’s third win over the Ecleos—she won two terms as Dinagat’s congressperson—despite the fact that the province is the bastion of the Ecleo-led religious group Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association.
The triumphs of these three, and several other fresh faces who prevailed over well-entrenched traditional politicians, are gold mines for insights on local politics. A thorough research on their victories will be helpful guides for anyone else in the future who will dare launch an electoral crusade against a ruling political dynasty in his or her hometown, district or province.
What are the traits of these new leaders that defused the power of name recall in herent in the dynastic names they defeated? What conditions on the ground were prevailing that impelled ordinary folk to shun vote-buying stratagems? What campaign methods were employed to counterbalance the vast resources and vaunted machinery at the disposal of an incumbent opponent?
This early, Isko and Vico have already caught people’s imagination as possible national leaders in the future. Largely shorn of any link to either the administration or opposition camps, they have the potential to garner followers from both sides of the partisan fence, at a time when the toxic fumes of divisiveness pollute our political atmosphere. They’re imbued with the elusive X-factor known as charisma.
Isko is living a true-to-life fairytale story as the kid who grew up in the slums of Tondo, scrounging for food from the garbage dump. Vico enjoys the birthright endowment of his show-biz parents’ movie-star appeal, but he has fortified his youthful stature with his principled stint as a city councilor and the words of idealism emanating from his rhetoric. Kaka has parlayed her background as a human rights lawyer, agrarian reform advocate and grassroots organizer to capture elective posts that have enabled her to institute worthy programs for the poor and sponsor laws for marginalized sectors.
With a country long suffering from a pestilence of wayward politicians, Isko, Vico and Kaka can become beacons of good governance if they translate their words into action. But they need civil society to extend a multitude of helping hands, because they will certainly be bullied, seduced and stalemated by forces of the old order. Their successes will give inspiration and lend a limelight to others in their mold. We need leaders like them who will shepherd us back to the path of civility and the ethos of democracy.
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