Not for Poe, Binay, Mar, Duterte, Miriam

Gerry Lirio, ABS-CBN News

Photo courtesy of cbcponlineradio.com

Why Ang Kapatiran's chair emeritus is boycotting the May 9 elections

The charm offensive of presidential candidates has officially begun, but this doesn't anymore excite Nandy Pacheco, chairman emeritus of Ang Kapatiran, a small political movement ambitious enough to once believe it could help change the world.

Over a week into the electoral campaign, Pacheco said he has decided to boycott the election, neither voting nor endorsing any candidate for president and down.

And the party he founded that in the past elections fielded presidential and senatorial candidates, known to the electorate only for their religiosity, if at all, is likewise not fielding anyone this time, according to its president Norman Cabrera, when sought for comment.

All the sights and sounds of an electoral campaign mean nothing at all to him now, especially the promises of a better tomorrow by candidates, from the "devil we know down to the least evil," he said.

"I have always been voting for the lesser evil," Pacheco told ABS-CBN News in an interview. "This time, I want to be honest with myself. I am boycotting the elections. Bakit ako pipilitin sa ayoko? I can't do that anymore."

He said he believes none of the five presidential candidates--Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Grace Poe, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas--can make a difference, especially not in the next six years.

"The time has come to change," he said. "We have been (voting) this way for so long. We are obsessed with personalities, when we are supposed to be talking about platforms. Nothing has changed--nothing will ever change whoever wins among them. It's all about personalities. What we need is system change."

QUIXOTIC PARTY

 

Founded in 2004 as a Catholic Church-based party, Ang Kapatiran quixotically fielded JC delos Reyes, a former Olongapo city councilor, as its presidential candidate in the 2010 elections, ranging him against Senators Benigno Aquino III Manuel Villar, and Richard Gordon, and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, believing that the country needed instead a young, idealistic, unadulterated public servant.

Aquino won, with Delos Reyes landing at the bottom of the election results. In the 2007 elections, Ang Kapatiran fielded three senatorial candidates—Zosimo Jesus Paredes II, Martin Bautista, and Adrian Sison, who placed 28th, 29th, and 31st in a field of 37 candidates in the mid-term political exercise that elected only 12 candidates.

Four months into curtain call of Aquino's six-year term, Pacheco is giving up now--that is, giving up hoping an election would result in anything that would usher real change in the lives of the majority of over 100 million Filipinos.

Last October, the Commission on Election announced that some 2.4 million voters had no biometrics, effectively disallowing them to vote in the May elections. In a January 2016 survey, Pulse Asia reported three percent of 1,800 respondents were undecided who of the five presidential candidates to vote. The Social Weather Stations reported two percent of 1,200 respondents in a survey done early this month in almost similar category.

Nothing has been said of someone like Pacheco, who is determined to say goodbye to all that. But he was not alone boycotting and dreaming of a systems change, he said.

VICIOUS CYCLE

The 83-year-old Pacheco has been looking for real change in the country's political life, he said, since he was forced to join some 60,000 Filipino and American soldiers in the infamous Death March in April 1942. Then a nine-year-old boy born in Balanga, Bataan, he marched from Mariveles to Balanga while the soldiers walked up to Capas, Tarlac.

Pacheco grew up becoming a lawyer and a communication expert working for the vice presidential campaign of Emmanuel Pelaez in 1961, in the United Nations in 1962, and in the Asian Development Bank in 1967 until 1990.

In 1962, he convinced Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas and Vice Mayor Herminio Estorga to rename the road known after Isaac Peral, a Spanish engineer, to United Nations Avenue. Very few people now remember the UN Avenue's old name.

In 1986, a few months after the four-day People Power Revolution, Pacheco formed the Gunless Society of the Philippines, a movement seeking to ban the carrying of gun in public places, except by law enforcers on duty and in uniform. He later asked President Corazon Aquino to certify as urgent a bill seeking to outlaw guns in public places. She did, and the Senate passed it in less than a week. The proposed measure died at the Committee of Public Order chaired by the President's brother, Rep. Jose Cojuangco of Tarlac.

"Then and now, people die senselessly of guns," he said. "Man has become an endangered species."

Pacheco said the people won and lost in the the EDSA Revolution 30 years ago this month. We won in the first part, he said, because we succeeded in ousting the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. "We lost in the second part, because, we failed to instill systems change," he added.

Looking back, Pacheco said it was all but a vicious cycle.