Day After Delirium

by Juan L. Mercado

“Ah, the chill of consciousness returns”,  the poetic drunk Uncle Seamus would groan after a bender the night before.  Morning after the May 13  elections, what do we wake up to?                                                                             

The wife and I glimpsed first  outlines of  reality  emerging in  Precinct No.  513A  at  Lahug Elementary School . This Cebu City classroom turned-into-voting booth is  replicated  countrywide

We’ve voted in this precinct since 1994, after  retiring  from United Nations posts in Bangkok and Rome .  Grey hair and bifocals opened  the  senior citizens lane for us.  After a 30 minutes,  we  shoved our filled  ballot into a PCOS computer.  It worked.

So, why  does this queasy feeling persist?  Half a century of journalism  drills one lesson: the significant story festers below the obvious.

Underneath Lahug’s  placid surface, Rep. Tomas Osmena  pulled all stops to achieve  what  he  never managed  in two  decades:  to  topple  councilor Mary Ann de los Santos, known for spine and guts.  Will  today’s computer count  award De Los Santos’ scalp to Osmena?

Candidates ignored maternal deaths and abortions. We’ve been swamped by posters to text by those against “Team Patay.” But Sri Lanka and Honduras  slashed maternal deaths far below  ours.   Abortions exceed probably  500,000  a year. It is harsh to say  campaigners  turned a blind eye to massacre of innocents  and a deaf ear to the death rattle in the throats of mothers. But it is true.

No one  hit  the alarm button over a  crucial red line  breached  Friday.   The  level of carbon dioxide — a  key heat-trapping gas — breached  400 parts per million.

CO2 in the air has not been this high for three million years, says National  Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pieter. Tans. That  was  before we  humans evolved. It  flags  climate havoc.

Rising sea levels could uproot 13.6 million Filipinos levels in 2050, Asian Development Bank estimates  The  severest  threat  is “along the Pacific seaboard: from Samar to eastern Mindanao,” scientist Wendy Clavano wrote . High risk provinces flank Lingayen Gulf, Camotes Sea, Guimaras Strait, waters along Sibuyan and central Sulu, plus bays in Iligan, Lamon and Bislig.

The new C02 report  came from analyzers atop a Hawaiian volcano. Mauna Loa is  ground zero for tracking CO2  ”The time to do something was yesterday,” said Yale geochemist Mark Pagani.  No candidate mentioned  available climate mitigation programs.

Instead, names peddled at every turn are younger editions of  old dynasties. These monopolized and largely misruled  power over the decades.

Dynasties have  become more brazen, Inquirer’s Solita Monsod notes. Examples include the Angaras of Aurora; the Estradas – Erap, son Jinggoy, candidate JV , mayor Guia Estrada /Ejercito (widely known as Erap’s No. 2), The Cayetano family boasts of  three members in politics, The Binays will have four.

Boxing superstar champion Manny Pacquiao raised the hand unqualified wife Jinky  for vice governor.  Next door, his brother is running for congress.  Mommy or “Aling Dionisia” always had better sense. Did she decline?

The  169  political  dynasties “ make up 0.00001667 % of the country’s over 15 million families,” an earlier study, by political  analyst   Roland Simbulan, noted.  They’ve hoarded  power for the past 30 years, churning out seven Presidents, two vice presidents, 42  senators, and 147 congressmen.

Today, the  dynasties are up to 178. They dominate 73 of the 80 provinces. Remnants of the Arroyo-Macapagal  clan remain. The Marcoses seek to  reinforce rehabilitation  from People Power exile.

Imelda’s 1,089 pairs of shoes are shrugged aside in her re-election campaign. The unopposed Ilocos Norte governor candidate Aimee is never asked about her SALN and undeclared  Virgin Island secret stash. The former dictator’s namesake Ferdinand Jr, is  a senator. He  casts a moist eye on  2016.

Clans today  no longer settle for  fielding two or three family members in each election. Members of  the Ampatuan family and guards  were implicated in the 2009  Maguindanao  massacre that  killed 34 journalists . Today, 80 Ampatuans seek public office.

Political in-breeding embeds penury, Asian Institute of Management’s Ronald Mendoza, told AFP.  Poverty levels in areas ruled by dynasties are five percentage points worse than in those that are represented by politicians without family links.  Electing politicians, from a constricted  gene pool. That  shreds  “the potential of countless other talents.”

Seven out of every 10 members of the Lower House sports  a political dynasty tag , Mendoza pointed out. The total bolts to 80 percent in the Senate. Dynasties rule regions like fiefdoms over generations. They clamp strangleholds on economies and political structures.

When PCOS machines tally all votes today, 21 of the 24 Senate seats could slump into under the control of political families, some forecast. “That includes former President Joseph Estrada’s two sons from different mothers.”

After voting, the wife and I pulled up at the  Cebu post office’s front steps. That’s where the beggar Raul  parks on holidays — and nights.  The wife hands  Raul something for lunch.

“As suggested by Mareng Winnie. we  did not vote for anyone whose surname is the same as, and/or who is related to, an incumbent public official.,” we told Raul. “What about you?”

“Me?” he replied:  “I stopped voting years ago”.  As  the drunk Uncle Seamus would groan after a night-before-bender: “Ah, the chill of consciousness returns.”

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