MANILA - His face and name cannot be spotted in the various television commercials of government officials that are currently ruling the airwaves. He does not have a public service announcement or an advertisement detailing about his works and projects.
He does not even belong to a political party. He has never been an elected official to begin with, yet environmentalist Nicanor “Nikki” Perlas is bent on running for the highest office in the land.
“Ang pinakamalaking motibo, maraming nagsasabi na wala talaga silang mapilian dito sa dadating na eleksyon. Kasi parang napipilian lang yung kandidato ng administration at opposition. Pero walang real choice na tunay,” Perlas told ABS-CBN News, claiming that he is the “real choice.”
Perlas, 59, does not even have a running mate in mind. He revealed that he has no money to fund his 2010 presidential campaign.
But he made known that he has one million volunteers and supporters backing him up in his presidential bid.
One of them is Gina Lopez, managing director of ABS-CBN Foundation. “I hope that we have a president that can see the absolute wonder that this country holds. And what will happen to us on all levels is that we can only safeguard the resources that we have.”
Lopez then told Perlas during the announcement of his bid, “I believe you have that vision. You understand the deeper level of what it means to safeguard the environment. I know that you will not allow mining to happen.”
Perlas, 59, was one of the leaders in campaigns against the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, hazardous pesticides as well as “corrupt” government officials.
He served as an adviser for various United Nations agencies and former presidents Cory Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Estrada. He was also an adviser for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Perlas explained in a letter that his decision to run for president in 2010 is a response to a call that has been following him for some time.
“It is a call that I know we all share, but which we may all respond to in the different ways that are unique to each one of us,” he wrote. “This decision to respond to a call is connected with the present condition of this country and its future possibilities.”
He said that the call needed an urgent response after the House of Representatives approved House Resolution 1109 which will convene Congress into a constituent assembly and propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution.
Perlas also said in his letter that the Philippines is crying for help. “She wants us to stop Her bleeding, from the wounds of poverty, corruption, injustice, violence, drugs, joblessness, mis-education, and all the dozens of plagues now battering the country.”
“In 2010, we will decide whether or not we will lose our soul and drown our spirit under the rampage of the forces of traditional politicians that right now are aligning and preparing for the final assault,” he added.
Perlas claimed, “As we speak, the administration is already pouring billions of pesos worth of public funds to secure their control in 2010, public funds that they disguise as social services of all kinds.”
Despite his attacks on the administration, he made it clear that is not with the opposition.
He said that the Philippines is “warning us that the fate of the country would be no better if another wave of self-centered, power-hungry and wealth-salivating traditional politicians from the opposition captured political power in 2010.”
Different kind of people power
Perlas also noted that while the Philippines is no longer a colony, the country is “still under the yoke of a power which is more difficult to overcome because this is a power that now comes from deep within and among us.”
“We are now under the imperial rule of traditional politicians who offer us really nothing inspiring but instead ram down through our throats increasingly more decadent versions of the same old injustices and moral decadence that have been ruling and torturing us all for too long,” he declared.
He then mentioned that Filipinos are challenged to “step forward to create a new societal force that would redeem this country, not only politically, but also culturally, economically, ecologically, and, most important of all, individually and spiritually.”
He cited that there is a need to create a “very different kind of people power, one that is more conscious and visionary and one that is not merely against something but for something.”
He enjoined his countrymen, “Let us throw away the chains that have imprisoned us for so long. Let us work hard, to the very end, so we can claim, with Rizal and other heroes that, in 2010, there will be no tyrants because there will be no slaves.”
“For by then we will have awakened, cast off our chains of fear and apathy which have enslaved us for so long, inaugurate a new era of promise, usher in the new Philippines, and change our destiny forever,” he said.
Extensive non-political career
Aside from doing counseling work for the country’s chief executives and campaigning for environmental causes, Perlas has other accomplishments under his name.
He graduated in 1972 as Valedictorian of the College of Agriculture of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture, major in Agronomy and minor in Agricultural Economics.
He also received the Gold Medal, Highest Academic Excellence from Xavier University. He was a Dean’s Lister in 1977 at the University of the Philippines Los Baños Graduate School.
“I have been very active in civil society for over 40 years as a leader of several national civil society networks and meta-networks (coalitions of national civil society networks),” he noted.
“Since I was 17 years old, I have contributed my share to make this country a better and more dignified place to live.”
He has been involved in numerous projects connected to anti-corruption and good governance, poverty reduction/eradication and job creation, and renewable energy and environment.
He also worked for national planning, integral sustainable development, and shaping globalization.
He also immersed himself in projects crafted for human development especially of the youth, education and leadership. (Details of his works are found on his official website, www.nicanorperlas.com.)
Perlas has also written 500 articles and other papers and has given 200 plenary talks globally and nationally.
In addition, he has advised official Philippine delegations to the UN and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation. He also gave consultancy services to government departments and congressional bodies.
“I have been inaugurating significant national policies influencing the lives of millions without being an elected official,” he cited, adding that he is already familiar with how the government operates because he has worked with some of its agencies and officials many times.
His civil society work went unnoticed as Perlas received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize), the Global 500 Roll of Honor (also known as the Champions of the Earth Award), and The Outstanding Filipino (TOFIL) Award.
“These awards have been given, among others, to Presidents and Prime Ministers, giving credence to my bid for the highest office of this land,” he added.
Perlas is the co-founder and training facilitator of PAG-ASA, a national spiritual-cultural movement active in creating a better Philippines. He is also the president of the Center for Alternative Development Initiatives.
After outlining his accomplishments, Perlas remarked, “I will be able to do significantly more for this country if I get elected to the Office of the President.”
He vowed to work very hard to be elected as the 15th president of the Philippines.
“But I must honestly tell you that I am not attached to this position,” he pointed out. “If somebody more qualified steps forward as a candidate for this Office, then, I will happily let go of my candidacy and support a more qualified person.”
“So far, from my perspective, no one has appeared who can truly lead this country into a new and better future,” he commented.
“No one, no matter how qualified, can change this country all by himself or herself. Nor should that be our goal. For this is a task that we must all be engaged in. For this is what true democracy mean.”
Changing the present situation of the country may be an impossible task, as Perlas put it. “The odds seem to be stacked against us. But that is always how it seems to be.”
Despite this pronouncement, Perlas is still undaunted. “Impossibility is just a temporary condition awaiting creative transformation. In the impossible is the real that is wanting to happen.”
He mentioned that the Philippine heroes overcame the impossible at the turn of the 20th century. He said the Filipinos did it once again in the first People Power Revolution in 1986.
“At the beginning of the 21st century, in People Power II, we ousted a corrupt President, again under conditions which seemed impossible,” he continued. “But then the impossible happened and we rid ourselves of a national pain and embarrassment.”