There is a nugget of wisdom that we must take from President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent words – that we owe nothing to politicians. “Remember, they do not function na gastos nila. Wala kayong utang na loob sa mga politiko. Lahat yan, pati sweldo nila, pera ninyo.”
And thus he said.
No matter how one disputes the irony of those words with his actions of hard-selling his own personal choices of senatorial candidates, it is a truism often lost to many in the heat of the campaign trail.
It was therefore unsettling to hear Mayor Lucilo Bayron on Tuesday declare before the president, and in front of a throng of supporters convened at the City Coliseum, that Puerto Princesa City residents “owe” candidates Bong Go and Francis Tolentino their votes. Why? Only because they showed up at last year’s anniversary celebration of the Underground River.
He drove the point further by invoking the cliche, thus: “Ang utang ay dapat bayaran upang tayo ay pagkatiwalaan.”
At that instance, President Duterte didn’t mind the gesture of patronage. The “debtors” after all are his favored senatorial bets.
We can only imagine how tricky it can be on the part of Mayor Bayron and other local political leaders to behave in front of a president who enjoys tremendous popularity and possessing a short fuse for non-conformism. The good mayor overdid it by a tad.
It was therefore not surprising, and frustrating at the least, that more important contentious issues between Palawan and the president were never even tackled and resolved. We were too polite and eager to please the President we opted out of reminding him on his unfulfilled promises such as giving Palawan its Malampaya royalty share, or planting the Philippine flag in the WPS territories.
It is worth ruminating these words of the President and how we, as voters, must discern the candidates we will chose to mark on our ballot boxes come election day. Remember that President Duterte promised to do away with patronage politics when he came to Palawan to seek the presidency.
While his words often do not match his actions, they should and must remain valid.