Upcoming Philippine elections a personal affair

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Phil elections
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Manila is a “decaying city,” Philippine congressional representative Joseph Victor Ejercito recently lamented, where crushing poverty has turned the capital into a “big ghetto” in need of rescue.

That saviour, Ejercito would have listeners believe, is his father, former Philippine President Joseph Estrada, the mayoral candidate for Metro Manila under the opposition political coalition party United National Alliance (UNA).

As part of the Philippines’ May 13 midterm elections, the once-ignominiously ejected Estrada will vie for the capital’s mayoral seat in what is being considered a narrow race against the incumbent Alfred Lim, who represents Team PNoy, a mostly supportive coalition of President Benigno Aquino III (also known as “PNoy”).

A revolving routine of familiar faces in the political heap will promise to keep end results predictable, despite the heated competition.

In the family

In the claustrophobically contained political sphere of the Philippines, where disposed and dishonoured personalities are regurgitated back into the limelight, relatives in ruling families such as Mr JV Ejercito are often summoned forth as blaring squawk boxes to defend personal pride and assist in rebranding history.

On Monday’s midterm elections, involving congressional, local and provincial candidates, 12 of the top 20 senatorial candidates, according to top polling units, are part of political dynasties. Although technically prohibited by the 1987 Constitution, congress has never passed a law forbidding political dynasties (despite several attempts), and clarifying an exact definition remains an indefinitely sidelined task.

Alongside President Aquino, his nephew Benigno “Bam” Aquino has entered a bid for senate; Nancy Binay, the wife of UNA’s president and Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, is also fighting for a congressional seat.

The coalitional order of the Philippines may further amplify family matters by unifying parties under a leading dynasty, but in the same breath this feudalistic system has also allowed for surprising comebacks. The dregs of the dungeon are easier to escape with influential aid.

An actor-cum-politician, Estrada was once aligned with his current mayoral opponent under the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) party (now beneath the UNA umbrella) until he replaced Lim as party leader in 2008. Estrada later unsuccessfully ran against incumbent President Aquino in 2010 in a second attempt at presidency. Supportive son JV Ejercito now reckons his father will come out on top in his “last battle” for a position in the Philippine government. This marks a complete cycle from when he was previously mayor of the capital, before his low point, when he was forced to resign from his term in presidential office after protests broke out over his impeachment trail in 2001 and death threats were made by the military, who declared they would find him anywhere he went in the country.

Estrada is no anomaly either. Imelda Marcos, infamous for amassing a private shoe collection to the tune of 2,700 pairs, is running for re-election in Ilocos Norte, the headquarters of an awkwardly anachronistic party created by her late dictator husband that she heads with her as its sole representative in congress.

Team PNoy vs UNA

The Philippine government is structured so that the country’s vice president and president can be represented by opposing parties, which happens to be the case with the current government. However, Vice President Binay’s UNA coalition has released numerous statements vowing support for the Aquino administration while pushing forward reforms highlighted in their own political agenda.

Both the leading political coalitions share support in reform agendas, and both, similar to any other modern family, have their own internal differences, which have at times reportedly created fractures from within.

The clearest contrast in policies between the two political forces is the support of (a) the country’s Reproductive Health laws,  (b) the speed of reforms and (c) personal grudges. Particularly divisive is bad blood created over the presidential impeachment of Estrada’s former vice president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was formerly a professor of President Aquino III at Ateneo de Manila University, the source of a recently fairly balanced study on the election. In a reversal of roles, President Aquino has named Arroyo as one of the largest “big fish” needed to be brought to justice to solidify the goals of his anti-corruption campaign.

Hot shots

So intimately personal has politics become that trading  political teams often outweighs ideology in the Philippines. Senator Aquilino Martin de la Llana Pimentel, for example, was once included in UNA, but later switched to the Liberal Party under Team PNoy when his longtime foe Migz Zubiri entered UNA.

However, since campaigning for the election began last year, each party coalition has produced notable senatorial candidates that have brought salient agendas to the table for the business community, Pimentel included.

Senator Pimental, effectively pledging himself to neither party, has urged the Aquino administration to address the power deficient in Mindanao in the short and medium term by funding small hydropower plants and rehabilitating the Angus-Pulangi Hydropower Complex in the center of the island.

From Team PNoy, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, husband of Lani Cayetano, who is the mayor of Taguig, one of the richest cities in Manila, was lauded by his party for attracting robust sums of foreign direct investment into the country’s agricultural sector. Various agricultural organization across the country have also recognised his efforts for curbing rice smuggling and the illegal import of other commodities, which hinders growth at home.

Cayetano has also been an avid spokesperson for making loans available to rural farmer cooperatives, who combined forces to efficiently utilise advanced equipment in order to increase production and capacity.

From UNA, the controversial Zambales Representative Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, who has been faced derision from the Aquino administration for her support of former President Arroyo, wishes to review the Oil Deregulation law, which has been blamed for high petroleum prices in the past 14 years. She also listed education and health as her advocacies.

Green apple or red apple?

Within the ranks of UNA, all but one candidate for congress has opposed the Reproductive Health bill. While both coalitions are in agreement over the provisions outlined to better maternal and child health, UNA is staunchly against the mandate that the government private sector should provide spending to distribute condoms, birth control pills and the like.

Regarding Aquino administration’s push on the Sin Tax law, UNA remains split. In general, UNA simply plans to push its own personal agenda to take on opposing ruling families and politicians while hastening overlooked reforms, with not much more than mud racking.

The Freedom of Information Act, a 2010 campaign promise of the Aquino administration, is one such reform that UNA may likely expedite if given power. While the bill has been previously passed by the Senate, Aquino did not mark it as “urgent,” therefore letting it get bottlenecked in the bureaucracy of the congressional House of Representatives.

Outside of taking the “proverbial fine-toothed comb” over the Aquino administration, UNA shows precious little deviation from the order de jour. In the battle for Manila’s mayor, Estrada’s opponent has just as an inglorious past – filled allegations of abuse of power. Until signed petitions ticker taped his office, Mr Lim had plans to develop Manila Bay, disappearing the famous view of the sunset.

JV Ejercito has been a good son in helping his dad. But he doesn’t have to worry about too much change coming about no matter Monday’s results.

 

 

 

 

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

Click to enlarge

Manila is a “decaying city,” Philippine congressional representative Joseph Victor Ejercito recently lamented, where crushing poverty has turned the capital into a “big ghetto” in need of rescue.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Phil elections
Click to enlarge

Manila is a “decaying city,” Philippine congressional representative Joseph Victor Ejercito recently lamented, where crushing poverty has turned the capital into a “big ghetto” in need of rescue.

That saviour, Ejercito would have listeners believe, is his father, former Philippine President Joseph Estrada, the mayoral candidate for Metro Manila under the opposition political coalition party United National Alliance (UNA).

As part of the Philippines’ May 13 midterm elections, the once-ignominiously ejected Estrada will vie for the capital’s mayoral seat in what is being considered a narrow race against the incumbent Alfred Lim, who represents Team PNoy, a mostly supportive coalition of President Benigno Aquino III (also known as “PNoy”).

A revolving routine of familiar faces in the political heap will promise to keep end results predictable, despite the heated competition.

In the family

In the claustrophobically contained political sphere of the Philippines, where disposed and dishonoured personalities are regurgitated back into the limelight, relatives in ruling families such as Mr JV Ejercito are often summoned forth as blaring squawk boxes to defend personal pride and assist in rebranding history.

On Monday’s midterm elections, involving congressional, local and provincial candidates, 12 of the top 20 senatorial candidates, according to top polling units, are part of political dynasties. Although technically prohibited by the 1987 Constitution, congress has never passed a law forbidding political dynasties (despite several attempts), and clarifying an exact definition remains an indefinitely sidelined task.

Alongside President Aquino, his nephew Benigno “Bam” Aquino has entered a bid for senate; Nancy Binay, the wife of UNA’s president and Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay, is also fighting for a congressional seat.

The coalitional order of the Philippines may further amplify family matters by unifying parties under a leading dynasty, but in the same breath this feudalistic system has also allowed for surprising comebacks. The dregs of the dungeon are easier to escape with influential aid.

An actor-cum-politician, Estrada was once aligned with his current mayoral opponent under the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) party (now beneath the UNA umbrella) until he replaced Lim as party leader in 2008. Estrada later unsuccessfully ran against incumbent President Aquino in 2010 in a second attempt at presidency. Supportive son JV Ejercito now reckons his father will come out on top in his “last battle” for a position in the Philippine government. This marks a complete cycle from when he was previously mayor of the capital, before his low point, when he was forced to resign from his term in presidential office after protests broke out over his impeachment trail in 2001 and death threats were made by the military, who declared they would find him anywhere he went in the country.

Estrada is no anomaly either. Imelda Marcos, infamous for amassing a private shoe collection to the tune of 2,700 pairs, is running for re-election in Ilocos Norte, the headquarters of an awkwardly anachronistic party created by her late dictator husband that she heads with her as its sole representative in congress.

Team PNoy vs UNA

The Philippine government is structured so that the country’s vice president and president can be represented by opposing parties, which happens to be the case with the current government. However, Vice President Binay’s UNA coalition has released numerous statements vowing support for the Aquino administration while pushing forward reforms highlighted in their own political agenda.

Both the leading political coalitions share support in reform agendas, and both, similar to any other modern family, have their own internal differences, which have at times reportedly created fractures from within.

The clearest contrast in policies between the two political forces is the support of (a) the country’s Reproductive Health laws,  (b) the speed of reforms and (c) personal grudges. Particularly divisive is bad blood created over the presidential impeachment of Estrada’s former vice president, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was formerly a professor of President Aquino III at Ateneo de Manila University, the source of a recently fairly balanced study on the election. In a reversal of roles, President Aquino has named Arroyo as one of the largest “big fish” needed to be brought to justice to solidify the goals of his anti-corruption campaign.

Hot shots

So intimately personal has politics become that trading  political teams often outweighs ideology in the Philippines. Senator Aquilino Martin de la Llana Pimentel, for example, was once included in UNA, but later switched to the Liberal Party under Team PNoy when his longtime foe Migz Zubiri entered UNA.

However, since campaigning for the election began last year, each party coalition has produced notable senatorial candidates that have brought salient agendas to the table for the business community, Pimentel included.

Senator Pimental, effectively pledging himself to neither party, has urged the Aquino administration to address the power deficient in Mindanao in the short and medium term by funding small hydropower plants and rehabilitating the Angus-Pulangi Hydropower Complex in the center of the island.

From Team PNoy, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, husband of Lani Cayetano, who is the mayor of Taguig, one of the richest cities in Manila, was lauded by his party for attracting robust sums of foreign direct investment into the country’s agricultural sector. Various agricultural organization across the country have also recognised his efforts for curbing rice smuggling and the illegal import of other commodities, which hinders growth at home.

Cayetano has also been an avid spokesperson for making loans available to rural farmer cooperatives, who combined forces to efficiently utilise advanced equipment in order to increase production and capacity.

From UNA, the controversial Zambales Representative Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, who has been faced derision from the Aquino administration for her support of former President Arroyo, wishes to review the Oil Deregulation law, which has been blamed for high petroleum prices in the past 14 years. She also listed education and health as her advocacies.

Green apple or red apple?

Within the ranks of UNA, all but one candidate for congress has opposed the Reproductive Health bill. While both coalitions are in agreement over the provisions outlined to better maternal and child health, UNA is staunchly against the mandate that the government private sector should provide spending to distribute condoms, birth control pills and the like.

Regarding Aquino administration’s push on the Sin Tax law, UNA remains split. In general, UNA simply plans to push its own personal agenda to take on opposing ruling families and politicians while hastening overlooked reforms, with not much more than mud racking.

The Freedom of Information Act, a 2010 campaign promise of the Aquino administration, is one such reform that UNA may likely expedite if given power. While the bill has been previously passed by the Senate, Aquino did not mark it as “urgent,” therefore letting it get bottlenecked in the bureaucracy of the congressional House of Representatives.

Outside of taking the “proverbial fine-toothed comb” over the Aquino administration, UNA shows precious little deviation from the order de jour. In the battle for Manila’s mayor, Estrada’s opponent has just as an inglorious past – filled allegations of abuse of power. Until signed petitions ticker taped his office, Mr Lim had plans to develop Manila Bay, disappearing the famous view of the sunset.

JV Ejercito has been a good son in helping his dad. But he doesn’t have to worry about too much change coming about no matter Monday’s results.

 

 

 

 

Do you like this post?
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