With personality-based politics, expect junking of party-mates
GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) - February 11, 2019 - 12:00am

Although a dozen senators are to be elected in May, no national party is able to put up a full slate of 12. Party mates are even likely to junk each other, as their basis of unity is weak. It’s every man to himself in personality- instead of platform-rooted politics.

Ironically the two immediate past ruling parties are now shadows of their old selves. After dominating Congress during Noynoy Aquino’s Presidency, 2010-2016, the Liberal Party presently counts only one-sixth of the Senate and one-twentieth of the House of Reps. Its senatorial slate consists of only eight; only four of them are LP members, the rest guests. Only four have political experience to merit some name-recall.

The PDP-Laban’s reign was shorter-lived: two years, 2016-2018. Its ranks had swelled, mostly with LP defectors, upon the 2016 victory of its presidential bet Rody Duterte. Party president Koko Pimentel became Senate President, and secretary-general Pantaleon Alvarez Speaker of the House. Both were deposed one-third into Duterte’s six-year term. Of PDP-Laban’s only five senatorial candidates in Election 2019, three have political experience. Yet the two others rate better in popularity polls.

Most political butterflies are swarming to Hugpong ng Pagbabago. A Davao regional party, it is led by Duterte’s nationally famous daughter Sara D. Carpio, mayor of Davao City. HNP’s rise to national prominence was phenomenal. It aligned with three national and 18 regional and sectoral parties. Within a year, in July 2018, it was able to wrest the Speakership for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. HNP, as coalition leader, initially endorsed 14 senatorial candidates, recently reduced to 13 with the withdrawal of former Duterte spokesman Harry Roque. It may yet support more than the 12 senatorial slots. The elder Duterte, as long-time mayor of Davao, habitually endorsed as many as 18 candidates to only eight city-councilor seats per district. Sara inherited the style.

Any one of the 62 senatorial wannabes not carried by HNP can campaign in whispers in “enemy” bailiwicks to “Vote Straight HNP 13” – to invalidate the ballots. That’s a sly way of junking.

That worries re-election senator Cynthia Villar, an HNP endorsee and president of the Nacionalista Party. One of the Philippines’ oldest parties, NP has only three senatorial candidates, picked for their winnability derived from old popularity. In the pre-martial law two-party setup, NP used to alternate with LP in controlling Malacañang and Congress. Twelve senatorial slots were also up for grabs every two years. Yet NP and LP fought tooth and nail for wipeout. At that time governors and congressmen bankrolled the parties, and selected the senatorial bets in conventions. Today, it’s largely the choice of the President.

Thus is emerging not just two but possibly three administration senatorial tickets. First is the PDP-Laban’s five. Then there’s HNP’s 13 or more endorsees. Reportedly a-forming is a Du It Pilipinas, to consist of Duterte’s personal choices. It supposedly is the national version of Duterte’s old Davao-based Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod. Du It Pilipinas will support exactly 12: the five PDP-Labans, five from HNP, one ex-senator, and likely musician Freddie Aguilar of a PDP-Laban splinter. That would incite all the more junking among the three Duterte-aligned groups.

Recent senatorial races tended to bunch up in the eighth to 15th slots. The tightness gave rise starting 1995 to large-scale “dagdag-bawas” (vote padding-shaving) at the provincial and district canvassing. This Election 2019 candidates who in surveys rank eighth or lower are likely to campaign only for themselves – and junk even party mates. In political calculations, ballots with only the “junker” marked for senator boost his ranking many times over than if there are others. Junking can infect even the already weakened Opposition, as certain candidates wish to dissociate from the much-maligned “yellow image.”

*      *      *

The media barrage on measles outbreaks awoke Filipinos. Mothers afraid of having their tots vaccinated were horrified by news of infant deaths. Now they’re lining up by the thousands for the children’s long-delayed inoculation. Public health assurances have changed from safety to availability of injections.

Nearly two million tots up to age five missed measles shots. Dr. Susan Pineda Mercado, Philippine Red Cross deputy secretary general, advises working mothers to skip work this week and bring their children in for shots. Measles is highly contagious. Airborne, the virus can linger up to two hours where an infectee sneezed. Countless schoolchildren have been afflicted. If not them, carriers can be their own housemates and playmates. In need of shots are infants nine-15 months old, plus booster by the fifth year. Inoculation takes effect within 72 hours, and lasts for life.

Measles is associated with rashes and high fever. Early symptoms can be mere coughs, colds, and eye redness. But mothers mustn’t panic and self-conclude it’s measles, says Mercado. A former WHO officer for Western Pacific and health undersecretary, she advises that the child be brought first to the barangay health clinician. Diagnosis will separate those who can stay home for ordinary flu, or be hospitalized for measles.

The vaccination rate for measles, usually administered along with anti-mumps and -rubella, had been in decline for more than five years. The culprits: weak government health warnings and barrio penetration, and a rash of fake vaccines and anti-vaxxer false news. It worsened in 2016 with the misuse of more than 55 percent of government inoculation funds for a then-unknown dengue vaccine. Subsequent deaths blamed on Dengvaxia resulted in mothers shunning all vaccines altogether. One thing worried moms should know is that measles shots have been around since 1963, and they and their parents have likely had it. It’s proven effective, so good also for the next generation.

*      *      *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website https://www.philstar.com/columns/134276/gotcha

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with