Politics of Exclusivity

Orly Mercado

Posted on February 26, 2007

A disappointed brother

After the February 1986 People Power Revolution, Congress, which was padlocked by President Marcos when he declared martial law, was reopened. An election for a bicameral Philippine Congress was held in 1987. I ran and was one of 24 senators elected. I did pretty well in that election. I topped the vote in Metro Manila and its environs, and placed third, nationally.

Subsequently, an election for local government officials was called. As national leaders, we were tapped to campaign for our party’s bets. As I prepared the schedule of my sorties to the provinces, my elder brother, Willie, informed me of his decision to run for councilor in Bacoor, my mother’s hometown in neighboring Cavite province. I was disappointed, to say the least. At that time I was pushing legislation that would implement the anti-dynasty provisions of the new constitution. In the heady days after the “yellow revolution,” former activists like me believed we could change the feudal political landscape.

“It’s only an alderman’s post” he said. “Why can’t you drop by at one of my rallies? Or maybe you could pose for a photo raising my hand.” I refused. I found strange comfort in the thought that he was more likely to sing on stage than to deliver speeches. He sings well. He was, at one time, vocalist for one of the top jazz bands in the country. Maybe the voters will not connect him to me, I told myself. Up to the end of the campaign he begged me to endorse him. He said it would really make a difference. There were times I felt like making just one appearance for his sake. In the end, I never did. He lost. We did not talk for more than a year.

I was in politics some seventeen years. I never groomed any of my children to run for public office. I did not encourage them, but neither did I discourage them. I told them, that if they sought public office, it would be on their merits alone. We imbibe not from the wellspring of leadership to the exclusion of others.

The Philippines is facing another election this year. From the names of the candidates for various national and local posts, it is obvious that the anti-dynasty provisions of the constitution are inutile. Also marginalized are large numbers of Filipinos disaffected by the entire political class.

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