It is two weeks to election day and contending candidates for the national and local positions from rival political parties are almost on each other’snecks and throats. If words and looks could maim or kill, there will be no candidates standing now. Either they are in the hospital or are being prayed for in their wake.
Look at what is happening among the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates in the national level. A year ago, all the legal means in the book to dispose of a political enemy or pretendersto the thrown were resorted to if only to disable the early birds. This was true in the case of Vice President Binay. The moment he announced his plan to run for President, all sorts of criminal complaints were filed against him. When that did not stop him from topping the surveys, his enemies turned on the members of his family that culminated in the suspension of his son, the mayor of Makati City.
When Grace Poe took her turn on the top of the survey, disqualification cases were filed against her and even if the Supreme Court has already decided that she is qualified to run for President, her tormentors continued to seek means to disqualify her hoping that thepublic will turn her away. Despite that Mar Roxas of the ruling Liberal Party continued to hang on the tail of surveys.
Here comes Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who was smart enough not to be in contention until the date for substitution of candidates came thus escaping the early flak and vicious attacks from other contenders specially that of the ruling party and administration.
His running as a substitute was premised on the clamor and prodding of supporters from all parts of the country for him to run. This pulse of thepeople was known during his sorties to campaign for the federal form of government that he thought is the solution to the highly divided island country.
Now that he has grabbed the No. 1 position with a commanding lead over the second placer in the survey, all the cannons of rivals are now trained on him. First they worked on his street lingo cum cursing. Now they are working on his comments and statements on rape, which he said were more said as a joke than something to be taken seriously. He even elicited adverse comments from the ambassadors of the U.S. and Australia which he brushed away by challenging them to break diplomatic relations with the Philippines if he becomes President.
Whether his adversaries like him or not, that is who and what Duterte is. And by all indications he is the kind of person that the masses can identify themselves with. Our political history tells us that the voters don’t really mind if his rivals call him berdugo. The fact is, they can identify with him to bring the changes that they think should take place. Erap was a self-confessed womanizer when he run for President. His political enemies capitalized on that to put him in the gulley. But look what happened. He became President nonetheless.
On the local level, the issues are differentbut the contenders are also almost on each other’s throats. Everybody is capitalizing on the issue of illegal drugs solidifying its foothold in the province so much so that even the farthest barangays where one would not suspect it to be there but there it is.
Knowing what election can make of candidates and politicians, the accusations against each other about their involvement in the illegal trade is all propaganda.Boholanos can shrug it away because theaccusations will just fade away after electionButwhat will not go away is that illegal drugs trade is rampant in all towns of Bohol. And that will be the serious problem of those who will sit in power and authority after the election. They better have a concrete program to eliminate it just like how we succeeded in eliminating or driving the armed New People’s Army out of the province in 2010.
Let’s face it. Illegal drugs is a more difficult problem to deal with than insurgency. As I have said in my previous columns, insurgency grows by feeding on the misery of the people to discredit government but illegal drugs grow by feeding on the greed of the people especially those in government.
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