In 2016, and for the first time in my life, I will vote for Mrs. Arroyo

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Let us count the number of elections Mrs. Gloria Arroyo has competed in. The first was a 1992 senate run, followed by a 1995 re-election which she topped. Then her 1998 VP run which she won handily and the controversial 2004 presidential election. Post- presidency, she has won two congressional runs in my district.

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That’s a total of six elections. From my personal realm, a total of six opportunities to vote for her which I did not despite the fact that she is from my town, a town which still deeply reveres the memory of her late president-father. Scores of next of kin and town mates have not forgiven me for not voting for Mrs. Arroyo. Same with the colleagues in the farm organizations who adored – and still adore – Mrs. Arroyo. They all accused me of something short of treason. Betraying my roots, at the very least.

In the 2016 election, and without prodding from anyone. I will change the course of a lifetime. And vote for Mrs. Arroyo’s third congressional run. The past is past. And I will bury that in my 2016 vote. You know what? That vote for her will go with a clean conscience.

What are the compelling reasons for the change of vote? Not Amal, gorgeous as Mrs. Clooney is. You don’t vote for a candidate because of her famous and gorgeous lawyer. Reason number one is President Aquino, her arch political enemy.

Say what you will of Mrs. Arroyo, the “ impunity” aspect of her presidency included, she has been better to the peasantry than Mr. Aquino. While she did not focus on agriculture’s renaissance at all and smuggling of agricultural commodities was rampant under her term (worse now under Mr. Aquino), she listened to problems of farmers and summarily acted when presented with the problems.

The late Ka Ben Cruz, a party-list representative, could go to Malacañang without a schedule and seek help on specific problems. Glo, patubig sa Bulacan. Glo, pabinhi sa Pampanga. Glo, pautang sa Nueva Ecija. He told me he was never turned down, not even once. The support was micro, not one broad sweep of a program to help the whole sector, but it was support nonetheless. Farmer-leaders were treated well at the Palace. Whether she just pandered to them, I do not know (farmers have penny-ante requests 100 percent of the time and she can readily grant these). But she allotted time for them and never treated them with disrespect. When she visited Lubao, she posed for “selfies” with ordinary farmers.

I used to loath at these superficial entreaties to the peasantry. I told my farmer-friends such gestures had no deep impact on our lives, or for the improvement of the sector for that matter. But then, what do we have under Mr. Aquino?

Mr. Aquino has no time for the vulnerable and the suffering but his disdain toward the peasant sector has been of a special kind. We don’t know what motivated this (his father’s first national recognition came after helping farmers fight rat plagues in Tarlac rice lands) but the disdain has been visceral and unapologetic. After the expose of the Napoles scam, Mr. Aquino’s first official directive was to cut off all farm subsidies, from seed to fertilizer subsidies, as if it were the fault of the farmers that farm organizations had been used as fronts for the scam. Many of us from the peasant sector still feel that Mr. Aquino used the Napoles scam as a gleeful excuse to launch his assault on the peasantry.

He even failed to grasp the basic fact that these were phony farm and coop groups and that farmers were the victims and not the perpetrators of the scam.

For the leadership of the DA, Mr. Aquino named two secretaries. The original appointee, and still the DA secretary, is Procy Alcala, a former public works contractor, or “ kontratista.” The second, who resigned to run the for the senate anew, was Francis Pangilinan, a former broadcast bloviator, or “ komentarista.”

Clueless as to the policy framework needed to lift the agriculture sector, the former “ kontratista” and the former “komentarista” have been both abject failures. Mr. Alcala even used a minor league football player from England to hawk his rice policy, perhaps the ultimate admission that he is just jerking and fooling around, the agriculture sector be damned.

At the porous borders and at the seaports, the smuggling of agricultural commodities has been ramped up and the quantity of smuggled goods under his term may even exceed the volume of smuggled agricultural commodities under the Arroyo administration.

Was there ever a celebration of Farmers Day with Mr. Aquino? Zero and Nada. Zilch and Wala. While he would grace the events hosted by plutocrats and oligarchs dozens of times and with giddiness in his heart, Mr. Aquino, in his five years in office, has not spent a minute celebrating with farmers and trade unionists. He just hates them, that’s why.

Update Mr. Aquino is just about to meet the record of Mrs. Arroyo as the world’s most prodigious rice importer.

Mrs. Arroyo is now clearly an underdog and it is not Mr. Lambino who is saying this. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) said in a recent opinion that Mrs. Arroyo’s detention “ is arbitrary” and “ violates international law.”

I vote for the underdog 99 percent of the time. In 2016, she will run as one and I will vote for her.

Marlen Ronquillo
mvronq@yahoo.com

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19 Comments

  1. PGMA will go down in history as the greatest president the Philippines ever had. And she is still languishing in jail from the charges she was never convicted. For our country to succeed, we have to change the present form of government. And Only those who are qualified can run for public office. The bank tellers are better off than most of our public officials. They have college diplomas. A prerequisite in applying for a better job. Being famous doesn’t mean intelligent enough to govern a city or a province. Much more to be a member of the legislative. (Congress or senate)
    We believe that among our presidents, PGMA did the most for this country. It so happen that as a businessman we termed what we earned as commission. But when you do that in government, they call it corruption.

  2. Krissie Ackuino on

    President Arroyo was the most brilliant president after Marcos.

    And I didn’t mind her stealing the Presidency from Fernando Poe (It’s time for Binay to admit that even the numbers of the Poe Camp in 2004 clearly showed that PGMA won fair and square even without the alleged 600 thou corrupt votes from Mindanao). Poe would be just another Erap. One Erap is enough to remind the nation that the poor actually needed a direct help.

  3. That’s the haciendero culture in Pnoy and what else would one expect from him. I have spent a good number of years in Negros and I have seen how most hacienderos then treated the sacadas and other workers who are paid slave wages – they are really treated like lowly peasants.

  4. e kasi nga haciendero. kelan ba rumespeto sa mga magbubukid at pesante ang mga maylupa? Ibinoto nyo haciendero so ano ang maeexpect ninyo? E di kalakarang hacienda.

  5. bakit pa ituloy mo na ang ginawa mo useless din nmna kahit iboto mo pa sya wala ng mangyayari she has no power at all gingwa mo na dati ituloy mo na lang kababayan mo tinalikuran mo kakahiya ka

  6. bakit pa ituloy mo na ang ginawa mo useless din nmna kahit iboto mo pa sya wala ng mangyayari she has no power at all gingwa mo na dati ituloy mo na lang kababayan mo tinalikuran mo kakahiya ka

  7. Mr. Aquino is scatterbrain that’s why he can’t think well. Yeah I agree he is absolutely the worst president we ever have. He is anti-poor, anti-farmer because he belongs to an elite society.This scatterbrain doesn’t even know what a carabao is, doesn’t even know what a carabao looks like. LoL.

  8. GMA biktima ng mga tsismiss oriented media people. Nag suffer sya ng todo dahil sa media tsismiss. Bat hindi kayang gawin ng media kay Erap o Pnoy yan ginawa nila kay GMA? Simple lang kasi lalabanan din kasi sila ni ERap ng tsimiss sa tsimiss. Unlike si GMA ni hindi pumapatol sa tsismiss kaya nag take advantage ang media at ginawa syang punching bag.

    • Daniel B.Laurente on

      Well, GMA’s environment is very clean, no garbage and street language allowed, reason that she don’t indulge in hair salon gossip environment.

  9. As I have said before, Aquino will become the worst president the Philippines has ever had…and this will be written in all history books…and to be read by the next generations.

  10. The ‘relentless’ clamor for ‘justice’ of the HL farmers explains why Pres. BS Aquino doesn’t like farmers. His presidency will end as it started without the care for farmers.They are the ‘backbone’ of the country. No wonder he is a “failure”.

  11. If only to confirm my foresight, PNoy will be a very much worse President than the same person who he keeps criticizing and fault-finding. Mr. Ronquillo simply confirms what one thought will happen.