The 5% spot
CTALK - Cito Beltran () - May 5, 2010 - 12:00am

Ninety-five percent of the time I make every effort to keep the promises I make. Today, I have opted to stand on the 5 percent space where I consciously break a promise to a handful of friends who are running for Congress, Senate and other elective positions.

These handful are mostly people I know from church and/or people I really know to be competent and have integrity. They are people who could have pursued personal gain or personal glory but chose to follow the difficult path of entering public office in obedience to a “higher calling”.

At one point or another during the campaign period, I agreed to write about them in one of my articles. I never realized that I would end up struggling with the idea for many weeks only to decide that it was not going to happen.

Today I too make a difficult decision in order to obey a “higher calling”.

It is a very difficult decision to consciously decide not to keep a “promise” to friends who deserve it. However the column space I write upon is not mine. It is a privilege and a responsibility assigned to me by management and the readers of the Philippine STAR. 

The column may be under the Philippine STAR but ultimately, it is a space kept alive by the patronage of readers who have different beliefs, different views and different candidates.

Similarly, it is also a space where “other” candidates would wish to see their names and their stories written about with the same belief that the “free publicity” or personal endorsement could add or help their candidacy.

To selectively write about one would be to the disadvantage of the other. To endorse a handful would be to discriminate against most. In the end, the innocent act of sharing what I personally know of my friends would ultimately result in disregarding the principles of fairness and neutrality.

Professionally speaking, columnists may be good for exposes and advocacies, but our choice of candidates or endorsements don’t really have the same impact. I have friends who have long decided who to vote for. They ask me who and why I will vote for my candidate, but in the end, they still stick with their choice or candidate.

At best, columnists merely serve to confirm what people already believe in or have decided on. In the end, our purpose is to make sure that the people voted into office actually live up to the expectations of the voters and the laws of the land. To write personal endorsements or “praise releases” would be a disservice to the majority and vanity on the part of the columnist.

At the end of the day, I have always believed that we will get the leaders that God wants. We may or may not like them. We may or may not deserve them, but in the end God’s will, will be done!

So to my dear friends in VCF and the handful outside my church, please accept my most humble apologies for a broken promise. It is a promise I break in the belief that God is in charge and you will get all the help you need.

*      *      *

With the campaign period coming to a close, many people have certainly learned a lot of lessons and made a lot of discoveries.

To begin with, we now know that politics in the Philippines remains to be in the hands of the rich, the powerful and the influential. We have learned that in spite of all the sins, crimes and incompetence committed by past leaders, their children and their relatives still manage to keep coming back into politics like Tuberculosis.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine against politicians and there is no contraceptive that targets political sperm or “politicians in the making”.

With the exception of competent, godly men and women, we now know that many who follow in the political footsteps of the older generation are often people who have nowhere else to go because they never really worked hard at having a good education and having a career and becoming the best that they can be. They simply assumed that even public office is subject to inheritance.

We have learned that we should work hard for the passage of laws that require ALL candidates to have their heads examined, their bank accounts examined and their medical condition tested before running for public office.

We have also learned that WE also need to have our heads examined for arguing, debating, quarreling with our friends, relatives, neighbors and officemates just to show our support and belief in the same candidates who will ultimately drive around with police escorts and sirens on SUVs with FREE gas, hold office in secured air-conditioned offices RENT FREE, while they get kickbacks, pork barrel funds, and perks from corruptors!

Many of us have discovered that these so-called political enemies are actually a bunch of great pretenders who belong to the same theater. In front of the cameras they attack or criticize each other but then you find them inside hotels and resorts making deals and talking like fraternity or sorority kin. 

*      *      *

The question you now have to ask yourself is this: after the elections, what do you do? Are you going back to the same old grind, the same old state of mind and the same old habits?

Do we wait until the first 100 days or when the honeymoon is over before we start whining and criticizing? Or have you actually stopped to ask what have I learned and what can I change?

Don’t wait for the next tournament to take place in three years. Our country is not a giant basketball court or a boxing ring. It’s a nation that needs to move forward and one person like you “can make that change”. As Michael Jackson sang: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror…”

AS MICHAEL JACKSON CANDIDATES END FRIENDS KNOW PEOPLE TODAY I
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