The Trapo Campaign Has Begun

by Benjie Oliveros

 

Even before the campaign period started, the administration’s senatorial slate called Team PNoy has begun taking potshots at the opposition called Team UNA. Their opening salvo, which was led by no less than the president, seems to show how the administration would conduct its campaign. President Benigno Aquino III led the first sorties, calling on the people to vote for his slate and branding the opposition as “pretenders.” He pictured the opposition as free riders or hangers on who pretend to support his “righteous path” and told the people to vote for Team PNoy candidates because he needs senators who would support him.

Well, there are a lot of things that are terribly wrong with the way President Aquino and Team PNoy have been conducting their campaign so far. This gives us a glimpse of how trapo (traditional, dirty politics) the campaign would be and how things have not really changed as far as elections in the Philippines is concerned.

First of all, the administration slate is banking on the popularity of President Aquino and not the merits of each candidate nor in the programs that they intend to undertake. It’s as if they are an indistinguishable mass suited to the needs of the president. That is why the Liberal Party has been floating the idea that the upcoming elections should be a vote for or against the Aquino administration.

The last thing the country needs is a stamp pad Senate. The Aquino administration already controls the House of Representatives. It has the favor of the Supreme Court chief justice. If we are going to have a stamp pad Senate, we practically have a dictatorship.

Second, the so-called “righteous path” of the Aquino administration is no different from the programs of the previous administrations, except that corruption scandals have not yet imploded left and right, as what happened during the previous Arroyo government. The programs of liberalization, deregulation, and privatization, and the import and foreign-capital-dependent, export-oriented economy of the Aquino administration, as well as that of the previous administrations, have not resulted in the improvement in the lives of the Filipino people but rather have caused untold sufferings. While statistically there is growth in the Gross Domestic Product, inequities have worsened; the spike in prices is accompanied by high unemployment; hunger and poverty have worsened; the thrust of attracting investments in large scale, extractive mining for export has caused environmental destruction, displacement and death for indigenous peoples and communities, and the impunity in attacks on peoples’ rights continues to prevail. So what is Team PNoy and its candidates offering to the people?

Third, Team PNoy and the president himself have shown that its main campaign strategy is to launch personal attacks on the opposition rather than explain its programs and criticize that of the opposition.

The opposition Team UNA or United Nationalist Alliance fired back accusing the ruling Liberal Party of laying sole claim to the color yellow, which the late president Corazon Aquino represented, and for underhanded maneuvers and using government resources, while holding its guns by not attacking President Aquino directly. Vice President Jejomar Binay, one of the three leaders of UNA, called for a stop to the mudslinging and personal attacks. “We want a new kind of politics,” he said in a Yahoo news report.

But this does not mean that the opposition is not trapo. Its senatorial line up alone reeks of trapo. Three of its candidates are scions of the three main leaders, called the Three Kings, of UNA: Nancy Binay who is the daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay, Rep. Jack Enrile who is the son of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, and Rep. JV Ejercito who is the son of former president and candidate for Manila mayor Joseph Estrada. Also included in its line up are former Tarlac governor and aunt-in-law of the president Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, who admitted that she joined the opposition only because she had no slot in the administration ticket, former senator Ernesto Maceda, an out-and-out trapo and Senator Gregorio Honasan who has not made any legislation of importance and who symbolizes the new trapo for his unprincipled, opportunistic positions in the Senate.

So can we expect them to talk about alternative pro-people programs to deal with joblessness, high prices of basic goods, services, and utilities, the worsening hunger and poverty, the sorry state of the environment, the increasing US intervention, the sell-out of our national patrimony, injustices and impunity? Can we expect them to commit to fight for national sovereignty and patrimony, genuine land reform, building a solid, stable foundation for the economy, social justice and human rights and the judicious use of the country’s wealth and resources for the benefit of the Filipino people?

If not, it would be an insulting, irritating three-month campaign period for all of us.

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