Low campaign resources, lack of political network blamed
MANILA, Philippines—Only a small number of retired soldiers and policemen won government posts in the 2010 elections.
Fifteen out of 48 uniformed men who ran this year—the biggest batch in 23 years—won local posts. Thirty-three others lost their election bids due to a variety of reasons.
Public administration professor Prospero de Vera of the University of the Philippines said the reasons range from the lack of campaign resources to having no political network in the area where they ran.
“Each case is unique. It's a different matter when you run for a local office and different when you run for a national post,” he told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak in an interview. “I think military men had been more successful running for local positions.”
De Vera explained that many of the retired officers who won in the elections may have built political networks while they were on assignment in a particular region or town. Based in an area for long periods of time, they could have made friends with or curried favors for local politicians or businessmen. In turn, these friends helped or financed their campaigns.
The people of Zambales, for example, could have benefited from the projects of former Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, who won as governor (under Lapiang Manggagawa) of the province against incumbent Amor Deloso.
Incumbent Pangasinan Gov. Amado Espino (Lakas) spent almost 6 years as police director in Region 1 and the Pangasinan provincial police office before running for the first time as congressman in his home district. He was re-elected as governor this year.
Similarly, Leopoldo Bataoil was head of the Region 1 police provincial office prior to his promotion as NCR Police Office chief. Bataoil won as representative of Pangasinan's 2nd district this year.
“The dynamics are different in local races, but, usually, the common ingredient is that most of them really spent time there. They were able to develop their network,” De Vera said.
(See complete list: “Former soldiers, cops who won or lost in the 2010 elections”)
Against powerful clans
In contrast, former Armed Forces chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon, although a native of Pangasinan, had been assigned to Mindanao for most of his career. When he ran for congressman of Pangasinan’s 6th district this year, he lost to Vice Governor Marlyn Primicias-Agabas.
After his retirement from the AFP, Esperon was appointed by President Arroyo as head of the Presidential Management Staff and as presidential adviser on the peace process. Thus, he had not been able to establish a solid network in Pangasinan.
“He (Esperon) just came home [for the campaign],” said Perry Callanta, a political consultant to Esperon’s campaign.
“And he ran against families who are very well entrenched, like the Primiciases and Estrellas. He's not a political family, he is just an Esperon,” Callanta said.
Ex-officers, like San Fernando Mayor Fermin Mabulo (Nacionalista) and Eduardo Matillano (Sulong Palawan Party), were in the same fix, having run against rivals from well-entrenched political clans.
Mabulo, one of the soldiers involved in the failed 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, ran against and lost to presidential son and incumbent congressman Dato Arroyo (Lakas) for the 2nd district seat in Camarines Sur.
Mabulo's older brother Sabas also ran against Dato Arroyo in 2007 for the Camarines Sur 1st district seat but conceded defeat before canvassing finished.
Eduardo Matillano, who had figured in 1980s coup attempts, ran against and lost to long-time Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn. This was his third attempt—and loss—in the mayoral contest there.
Bad timing, lack of resources
Meanwhile, it was bad timing for the military men who ran for senator, like Marine corps officer Ramon B. Mitra Jr., Marine colonel Ariel Querubin, Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, and Air Force colonel Hector Tarrazona. None of them made it.
Unlike Senators Gregorio Honasan and Antonio Trillanes IV, who ran and won in mid-term senatorial elections, these candidates ran during a presidential election when media and public attention is focused on presidential candidates.
“Had they run in 2007 (a mid-term election), they would have had a better chance. You have a better chance of getting noticed [in a mid-term election],” De Vera said.
And unlike Trillanes who ran at a time when anger against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was high, Querubin and Lim (both involved in attempts to overthrow Arroyo) launched their campaigns when the public was more forgiving. (See related story: No 'Trillanes magic' for Querubin, Lim)
Many of the candidates, including Querubin and Lim, lost because they ran without adequate campaign funds.
“Especially if you’re not well known, with low resources, it's difficult to get recognized,” De Vera said.
Some ex-officials had been implicated in scandals, which could have hurt their candidacies.
Estancia mayoral bet Restituto Mosqueda, who was implicated by whistleblower Sandra Cam in a 2005 jueteng scandal, lost to Rene Cordero of Lakas.
De Vera said it is possible tat Mosqueda lost because of his alleged jueteng involvement, but noted that most voters don't see this as an issue because they "take it as a given" that some politicians or uniformed men assigned there to be involved in the illegal numbers game.
"What is more dangerous is if you're involved in scandals that involve corruption or the public misuse of funds," he said.
Two party-list nominees had links to such scandals: Eliseo dela Paz (Anak), a former PNP comptroller implicated in the 2008 “Euro generals” scandal, and Allen Capuyan (Abante Tribung Makabansa), a former armed forces intelligence officer implicated in the 2005 “Hello, Garci” scandal.
However, they chose to run as nominees in the party-list elections, which De Vera says voters "don't care about or don't know." Nevertheless, their party-list groups failed to win seats in Congress.
In one instance, a former soldier’s links to the highly unpopular president Gloria Arroyo cost him a congressional seat.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, who ran for Batangas 1st district representative (a post he and his daughter Eileen Buhain held from 1992 to 2010) lost to former Customs commissioner Tomas Apacible.
De Vera said that since the Ermitas are entrenched in Batangas and have a wide political network there, his loss can be “purely credited to the fact that people didn’t like PGMA.”
A growing number of military and police officials have been running for government posts since 1987, when uniformed men first began to run for office. (See related story: Number of ex-cops, soldiers running 2010 biggest in 2 decades)
Analysts like Clarita Carlos of UP have said that military men can make good public servants. "They have been development agents in society," she told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak in an earlier interview.
But De Vera suggests that the majority of uniformed who make a career out of politics "perform even worse than traditional politicians."
"Generally, instances of military and police officials dramatically changing is very small. In most instances, they turn out to be the same breed as other politicians," he said. (abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak)