Juan the Petmalu, Bong the silent one and the hopeful three


Since it is the start  of the campaign season, Restless Wind will attempt to do brief sketches of  some Senatoriables  whose  fate in the elections may reflect our collective electoral  IQ, and whose presence in the Senate  may either be a boon or bane to national  debate that shapes the future directions of the country.

Juan Ponce Enrile, lodi to millennials, is the petmalu of this campaign by his sheer longevity in politics and by his unmatched experience in national governance. Feared as Martial Law administrator whose break with Marcos was the tipping point of the people’s angst against the dictator, JPE has morphed as an opposition Senator to Cory and as the legal expert whose parliamentary adroitness gave credence to  SC Justice Corona’s impeachment. But whatever gains he had was dissipated with his alleged involvement in PDAF scam which sent him to the PNP Custodial Center. Out on bail on account of his age, JPE hits the campaign trail hoping   to make it to the Senate at 96. With an alert mind and an agile body, he offers  for the last time, his  wisdom earned through the ages to the nation he loves so passionately.

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What could have inspired Bong Go to run for the Senate and join the county’s foremost debating club?  Since President Duterte’s election, Bong Go has been the unsmiling ubiquitous man who stands beside him as he makes presidential pronouncements or simply entertains the crowd with his vulgar irreverence. Not much is heard from him nor known about him until he started moving around establishing “Malasakit Centers” in government hospitals which has, admittedly, eased the poor patients’ access  to government assistance.  With his closeness to the President and his avowed love for the downtrodden, Bong Go could have been an effective DSWD secretary or a trouble shooter of sorts for all kinds of problems that burden the President. But the Senate is where he wants to be, and the unprecedented Presidential endorsements and media barrage will make sure he ends up in the winning column. It will be a sight to see how he would cross swords with some of the Senate’s brilliant minds, or how he would lump himself with fellow travelers Manny Paquiao and Lito Lapid in a performance that would make Senate  giants Recto  and Laurel swirl  in their graves.

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Chel Diokno, Pilo Hilbay, Willy Ong are achievers in their respective spheres who have the misfortune of running for the Senate with Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada on the ballot. Well, ours is a government of the people, and the people could not always be relied upon to make the best choices for their leaders.  Competence or high achievements do not necessarily win elections. One must be popular as well.

Law Dean Chel Diokno, son of revered nationalist Jose W. Diokno, could certainly add luster to the Senate where men of probity  holds court. Former Solicitor General Pilo Hilbay, the youngest ever to become Sol Gen in recent years, has an inspiring narrative of a poor boy from Tondo with a mother who worked as a housemaid, and who, through innate brilliance, made it to the top of the legal profession. And Doc Willy, he of social media fame, hopes to be the doctor in the Senate to look after the people’s health in the highest policy making body government.

It is a test of one’s mettle and character to criss-cross the country knowing that the battle is uphill and uncertain. But they plod on, buoyed up by a glimmer of hope that by a stroke of good fortune, the electorates will see them as the best alternatives to the more popular candidates in this election.

That is raw courage at its best – to fight knowing you are licked even before you begin, and you see it through no matter what.

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