How OFWs/OF Nation Can Win the 2022 Philippine Elections

by Bobby Reyes

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers the 2016 State of the Nation Address (SONA) | Photo by Garciabillyjoe via Creative Commons

Part I of the “ReVOTElution of H.O.P.E.” Series

The dream of Overseas-Filipino workers (OFWs) and Overseas Filipinos (OFs) of participating in the decision-making process of the Filipino national policymakers — or by being elected with or replacing them — started in Guam in 2005. I narrated in this scoop of an article, how its leading proponent, Dr. Eddie “Ka Edong” del Rosario, would lead in organizing a British-style “Philippine Shadow Government (PSG).”

Dr. Del Rosario met with Tonie Sison and me in Las Vegas (NV), and we discussed the formation of the PSG. Mr. Sison was the founder of the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of Las Vegas and the Filipino-American Federation of Southern Nevada. I became the Interim Secretary-General of the budding alliance.

“Ka Edong” and Mr. Sison thought I was the perfect guy to head its Secretariat since I am a trained journalist and a community leader. And secondly, they knew how then-Philippine Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr., wanted me to head his senatorial slate in his planned (but aborted) presidential candidacy in the 2004 election. Why Sen. Nene Pimentel selected me to lead his proposed senatorial slate is explained in this article, which was also my eulogy for Ka Edong, who died in July 2010.

But the dream of forming an OFW/OF-led political movement did not die with Ka Edong’s demise.

The next Filipino-American leader that wanted to unite the OFWs and OFs for the Philippine political arena was Dr. Ernesto G. Ramos. The Florida-based Democratic leader tried to run for the Philippine presidency in the May 2010 election. But the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) refused to accept Dr. Ernie’s certificate of candidacy. The PH Supreme Court upheld COMELEC’s decision. And as fate would have it, Dr. Ramos died on Oct. 25, 2010. But before he died, he and his supporters were able to organize at least the core group of the “Democratic Party of the Philippines” (DPP). To date, the COMELEC has not accredited DPP as a full-fledged political party.

“But the dream of forming an OFW/OF-led political movement did not die with Ka Edong’s demise.”

Dr. Ramos contacted this writer in 2008, and we started discussing my joining his 2010 electoral team. He offered me a seat in the DPP’s senatorial slate. I opted instead to run for governor in my home province. But since the DPP failed to secure its COMELEC accreditation, Dr. Ramos asked me not to run. Instead, the Chicago-based dean of Filipino correspondents in North America, Joseph G. Lariosa, wrote a eulogy.

After verifying that Dr. Ramos would not qualify to run for President, I accepted an invitation by the Villar Family of California to help their kin be elected the President. I became the spokesman of the Manny Villar for President Movement in the United States. I represented then-presidential candidate Villar in the Miting de Avance, hosted and televised by the ABS-CBN in its studio in the Bay Area in October 2010. My team members and I refused to receive any funding from the Villar campaign organization. We accepted funding as an “unheard-of practice” in Philippine politics, even up to now.

“And as fate would have it, Dr. Ramos died on Oct. 25, 2010. But before he died, he and his supporters were able to organize at least the core group of the “Democratic Party of the Philippines” (DPP).”

In the 2013 national election, a minor political party, Ang Kapatiran, invited me to join its senatorial slate. The negotiation bogged down, and it was a pity that my friends and I could not help it, which was a COMELEC duly-accredited political party. It fared poorly in the said election.

Eventually, I did return home in 2015. And ran in the May 2016 election for governor of Sorsogon under the DPP banner. However, again the DPP failed to obtain the proper accreditation from the COMELEC, which accepted my candidacy as an independent bid (that is, without the endorsement of a registered political party).

I founded in 2014 the Grace Poe-2016 Facebook Group, which generated a membership of more than 55,000. We organized too several provincial chapters of it with a more modest number of members per group. We worked hard for the Grace Poe candidacy. Again, we used our funds for the Grace Poe campaign. And you will read more about the additional political lessons in the failed Poe presidential campaign.

In late 2007, I coined the term “ReVOTElution.” It was my term for “a peaceful revolution done through an orderly exercise of suffrage.” I added eventually “HOPE,” which meant “Helping Other People Everywhere.” Or by its second meaning, “Helping Online People Everywhere.”

To cast modesty aside, some national politicians sought my assistance in their political races in the Philippines. This article explains why presidential bets wanted me in their camp as a candidate or one of their national campaign managers.

“Again, more than 44,000 members decided to stick with us. It was the equivalent of an overwhelming mandate to proceed with the “Nation” idea. So we now call it the “OFW/OF Nation (Mother Chapter).”

In the next episode of this series, we will discuss how several friends and I decided to start a Core Group after the 2016 election. We reached out also to OFW leaders, beginning in the Middle East. We were fortunate that we could join forces with Rudy ND Dianalan and his group of OFW leaders. It was also timely, as he was about to retire from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Datu Rudy, who is a fellow Knight Commander of Rizal, hails from Marawi City. He is an alumnus of both the Mindanao State University and the National Defense College of the Philippines.

Sir Rudy and I started on June 1, 2019, the “OFW/Overseas-Filipino Nation.” We formed its Facebook Group, now with more than 2,500 highly-vetted members.

We also asked the “Grace Poe-2016” members if they wanted its founder and cofounders to affiliate their group with the OFW/OF Nation. Again, more than 44,000 members decided to stick with us. It was the equivalent of an overwhelming mandate to proceed with the “Nation” idea. So we now call it the “OFW/OF Nation (Mother Chapter).

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