My good friend Lito came very early this morning and over a cup of coffee he promptly asked,

“Bay, asa man ka karong  umaabot nga eleksiyon pagka Presidente?” [Bay, where will you be this coming Presidential elections?]

“Unsay asa?  E di anhi ra!”  [O, where else but just stay here!]

“Di ba!  Asa ka dapig, kang Binay ?”  [No! I mean who will be your choice? Binay?]

“Sayo pud  ana, oi! Kalayo pa atong 2016!” [Too early!  2016 is yet too far away!]

“Sayo man sad nagpahibalo ang mga dumadagan!  Si Binay. . .si Cayetano. . .si Roxas sigurado man gyud na! Si Bongbong Marcos gidungog nga modagan sad kono pagka Presidente!  Haha!”  [But those  running have alreay announced this early too! Like Binay. . .like Cayetano . . .  of course, Roxas is a sure contender!  And Bongbong Marcos is said to  also vie  for the Presidency! Haha! ]

This early, ambitious contenders for the top electoral posts in the national government especially the Presidency, are already making their preparations for the contest.  With the opening of  Kwaresma comes this categorical announcement of Vice-President Jejomar Binay that he is definitely running for President come 2016 .  And he is forming a new political party to which he is inviting Boxing Champ Manny Pacquiao to be part of the senatorial line-up.  Senator Cayetano has also made known his interest in the top position.  God knows how many other politicians harbor the desire to become President.

This is not surprising.  The Traposthe  traditional politicians – have in fact  made their preparations long time ago.  Maybe,  since early childhood?  Senator Cayetano has been very candid about his ambitions, saying he has nurtured his aspiration for the Presidency ever since his first involvement in the political games in the country. To be sure, we can say the same thing with V ice-President Jejomar Binay!  And Secretary Mar Roxas.

But to think that Bongbong Marcos, for all we know, has been eyeing for another round of residency in Malacanang as Chief of State, is just nauseously unacceptable!  For obvious reasons.  Why,  his family has not even yet settled their accounts—their blood debts!— with the people? And now there is this son, a namesake of the hated dictator, on a climb to power?  Again!  God have mercy on this  troubled land!  This is not just a mere folly!  This is a veritable scandalous act of  adding insult to injury!

But, why is it so easy for our  politicians,  pseudo-leaders as they are,  to make fools of the people? How can they be so comfortable and cavalierly with their grandiose acts of deception and foolery?  Is there  no escape from their swindling acts?  Or are we  just too docile, too naïve, too dumb a people that we allow ourselves to be fooled and cheated — not only twice, not only thrice — but heaven knows how many times over?

We have witnessed how  each of these would-be candidates carried themselves around all these years as officials of government.  We have heard them say, “Oh, I can do better for my country, if  voted into office”.  And yet how many times have they reneged on their words every time.  If indeed,  this or that contender for President can do better than the incumbent if given the chance to manage the affairs of the State, let him render a blueprint of his program of government.  We are fed up with self-serving baseless general statements and pronouncements.

What we ask of each aspirant to the top national post is to define and spell out in clear terms what he is going to do with the country.  What is his vision of an ideal Philippine society?  What are  his long-term and short-term goals for the country, economically, politically, and culturally?  What are the specific objectives of his administration with respect to agrarian reform, to nationalist industrialization, to the question of OFWs, to foreign policy, to education, and all the other concerns of the nation?  And on top of all these, does he have a blueprint for the elimination of this nation’s longstanding problem of poverty?

Other countries, who have been birthed much much later than our Republic, have outlived this problem of .poverty in their own context.  Has there been any one among our national leaders, most particularly the Presidential aspirants, who have come up with a no-nonsense program that would once and for all liberate our people from age-old impoverishment and misery? None that we can reckon with — from the time of the late Manuel L. Quezon down to the incumbent Benigno S. Aquino III.  But this is supposed to be the top item in the economic agenda of a Philippine president!

If  newly established countries like Vietnam and Korea have outlived their respective problems of poverty, why haven’t we? Are we so barren a nation that we cannot produce  a leader who can liberate us from the economic bondage of poverty?  Is it our fate as a nation to be perpetually held hostage by political charlatans whose genius have been to plunder the nation’s treasury and then go scot free,  and then come back years later to the political arena to start anew their acts of thievery?

Or are we a people cursed by history—a ruinous colonial history that has emasculated our soul, divested our psyche of its racial pride and dignity we just have to make do with a copycat culture that has always failed us in dealing with our own domestic affairs, problems and concerns?

Don Pagusara is a a multi-awarded author and a Palanca-awardee.
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