A Call to Arms to the Centrist Democrats

The biggest lie foisted upon the Filipino voters this election is that the leaders we enthrone into government to manage our country’s affairs will change our lives.

This is not entirely true!

What in fact is the underlying story line to this election is simply our HOPE these officials will alter our lives FOR THE BETTER. And we have been hoping every election and keep hoping and hoping – but our lives have barely changed; except perhaps for those we put in power, their patrons and sponsors and the elite who have always been benefited by the system that has protected the status quo through these intermittent elections.

As always we simply are going to replace personalities that have governed us for the last election cycles with a set of people cloaked with the same tired slogans or a variation of the same theme; with panaceas to what ails this country. And the people we will install to power are not new faces. They are members of political clans whose families will benefit most. In fact, we will replace Congress and Senate - 70% of whom are members of political dynasties.

And the tragedy is - we really don’t have much choice (see Manila Time column, “A View from the CENTER” May 5, 2016; and

The target of my message is a group of special people, the Centrist Democrats, who now are undergoing the agony of discernment, as I have gone through as Chairman of the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP) - Ang Partido ng tunay na Demokrasya; and president of the Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI). This may remind Centrist Democrats in the country, particularly CDP of their “TINUHUAN” – our beliefs and values. Take this last 3 days to review and fathom what these elections will mean to the country – not just to the each of us. In fact we must go beyond the “us”.

To review: central to our solidarity is ‘HUMAN DIGNITY,’ our core value, the enhancement of which must permeate all facets of our actions. And how our decisions we arrive at in the next few days will impact the next years and beyond.

In our countless seminars, our structural analysis of Philippine society and our position emanating from the same has been very clear – the current socio-political-economic system has not served our people well and will not work toward the emancipation of the Filipino from the decades-old shackles of poverty, impunity, and traditional patronage politics. Solutions applied every change in regime are merely palliatives.

We have agreed from amongst ourselves to set this very well-defined task from the very beginning: to create a real living, breathing political party that must aggregate the hopes and aspirations of our people, bring this to the fore and engage in political struggle to attain political power.

We know we will not achieve all this within a span of one or two electoral cycles. Central to what we ultimately want to accomplish is to change political culture through political education amongst our fellowship and the electorate. This will take perhaps a generation – and beyond. And we never had any delusion that it will not outlive many of us.

But we have started in some ways. We now have 45 CDP candidates vying for elective posts all over the country – although we were abandoned by some (in Eastern Samar, Metro Manila & ARMM) – all par for the course. We are a very small political party – but by the courage of our convictions, we will grow. Let us all campaign for and vote for our candidates in our localities – principally in Cagayan de Oro City, Iligan City, Municipality of Borbon in Cebu, Municipality of Datu Piang in Maguindanao, and Compostela Valley Province, Municipality of Catarman in Camiguin, Municipality of Lugait in Misamis Oriental, and Alaminos City in Pangasinan.

And now for the National Candidates, this exhortation is non-partisan except for one – which I will expound at the end of this item.

In the CDP, we have always tried very hard to surrender our personalities to the collective. And so we designed mechanisms and processes to guide us in our decisions especially at this time that we are a minuscule political organism still irrelevant to the body politic.

Our National Council prior to the campaign period has been silent in supporting a single candidate for president; although we have taken pains to meet with some of them personally and scrutinize their stand. As we are small and can’t deliver command votes, we were never in the radar of these “Presidentiables”.

We wanted a presidential candidate who will hew a position as close as possible to ours – but this judgement was mostly left to the members. We will not know whether this decision was a wise one for our party. Time and circumstances will tell.

We all understood that this crop of presidential candidates are flawed – some seriously. So we came with the simplest uncomplicated minimum demands; our next president should go for amending the 1987 Philippine Constitution; and a clear plan for providing jobs to alleviate poverty.

Duterte and Binay have declared amendments to the Constitution with the former’s position of federalism and the latter’s take on regional and local autonomy. Roxas publicly supported PNoy’s stand on defending his mother’s Constitution and Poe and Santiago were unclear about some economic provisions which need to be changed.

As to job provisions, the political air was inundated with motherhood statements on alleviation of poverty.

In Cagayan de Oro City where our President, Rufus Rodriguez is running for mayor with a complete slate convened the local CDP chapter and they have decided to support Mayor Rody Duterte for president. Local political realities dictated this as in this 3-cornered fight, the incumbent Mayor Oscar Moreno is backed up by Liberal Party of Mar Roxas and the former Mayor Dongkoy Emano has the backing of UNA of VP Jojo Binay.

Our National Council however decided to campaign only for 3 senatorial bets; Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, Richard “Dick” Gordon, and Miguel “Migz” Zubiri; and we thus disseminated this decision to our membership. The CDP-NC likewise gave our membership the latitude to add to the list their personal choices.

This brings us to the personal question of who are my choices in this election.

As Chairman of the CDP, and in line with the National Council decision, I will vote for the 3 senatorial bets mentioned above. In order not to influence or precipitate a tangential and at best a pointless debate from among our membership, I will keep the name of the presidential candidate I will vote for en pectore.

I will however explain why the Vice Presidency must not go to another MARCOS. I understand very well the need for BBM to uphold the name of his father. No loyal son can stand aside without protecting what to him is the honor of their pedigree – however indefensible it is. On this I salute the son. I too lost a father, but in different circumstances

Read: Virata and technocrats ran the martial law economy

Read: Letter to the editor: Bongbong deludes himself over his father's legacy, tries to rewrite Philippine history

But I and millions of Filipinos have lived through the MARCOS regime and the family’s perversions of our civilized concepts. BBM may not have a direct hand in this, but his name has gained an aberrant symbolism and notoriety that need to be expunged; and his arrogance and persistence that he has nothing to apologize for his father’s regime leaves me and people to doubt his grasp of history.

Perhaps in some future time, but MARCOS – not now!

May 6, 2016
Read 3335 times Last modified on Thursday, 14 July 2016 15:19
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