A well-deserved defeat

MISREADINGS | Ted Aldwin E. Ong

It may not be appropriate to rub a salt into the wound of a candidate who firmly believed that he possessed all the good integrity made available by heaven and earth to win a congressional seat for the Lone District of Iloilo City.

The circumstances which led to his defeat, however, requires that a handful of salt must be kneaded into the bleeding wound if only to remind him of the process that his ambition went through, especially that some people believed that he has extended effort a little bit too much up to the point that unconsciously, yet carelessly, he already have stepped on the toes and sensitivities of others who were working fairly silently.

Iloilo City Councilor Joshua Alim on the PECO renewal issue. Photo from Councilor Joshua Alim's Facebook acocunt
Iloilo City Councilor Joshua Alim on the PECO renewal issue. Photo from Councilor Joshua Alim’s Facebook acocunt

This is the case of the orange trapo candidate Joshua Alim who has made an effort to catapult himself in a made-to-believe winnability circle a year before the elections. He does not deserve an assessment narrative, but our constituents had deemed it as a necessary wrap-up in for his highly anticipated and well-deserved defeat.

Allow me to wear the shoes of a good trapo politician for this exercise by declaring that “there is nothing personal” on this ‘Mr. I Will Fight For You.”I only carry the voice of our members who were fighting temptations to engage on you during the elections for they were provoked by “alleged” lies through snide and indirect comments over social media which were reinforced by actual coffee table talks concerning the local power issue.

As an old unchanged player in Iloilo City politics, I have recognized Alim’s “good nose” for popular issues which ranged from the urban poor, anti-smoking, and traffic management. These are not gut issues, however, that can win elections if compared to the age-old and historical abuses of Panay Electric Co. (PECO) among power end-users of Iloilo City. 

At the onset, there was really nothing wrong when someone takes on the PECO issue as a backdrop for his candidacy. In fact, many of our constituents were supportive of Joshua Alim’s actions and it prompted numerous discussion on how we could be of assistance on him, without necessarily joining the political bandwagon.

The anti-PECO issue is an open issue for all who are interested to take on, especially for those who has the mindset for solutions or even for those who wants to earn some pogi points to win an election. The issue can make candidates win elections you know for it is a real issue, a legal issue, and an issue with a political dimension.

Many were aware that we were involved on this issue for a time but this is not an issue dominated by groups like Freedom from Debt Coalition and other progressive blocs. It is also not controlled by any persons like lawyer Romeo Gerochi or his son who inherited the handling of the issue from his father. Yet groups and persons cannot be blamed if at some point in time they were frontliners on the issue and they were instrumental in winning a case that benefited the Ilonggos.

Like any other campaigns, it has a start and a finish, and we started and finished a chapter of a campaign against PECO and won a refund. We did not owe anything to the public nor did we impose something to the Ilonggos. The story ended in 2010, but new developments like the renewal of PECO franchise revived the issue and this is where a new chapter started.

The effort was grounded on their bid to show support on the entry of More Electric Power. So, it is an anti-PECO and Pro-More Power fight among themselves for there was actually no clear opposition on More. We were silent because there was no point to be noisy. We were not political figures who are running for elections or who need to show that we deliver a political promise like an elected official or unlike a Duterte supporter who swaggers like a political kingpin who has the power to make or break people in Iloilo City.

Somewhere along the curve, however, Alim together with his running mate and their pro-Duterte bank roller combined efforts to discredit other persons and organizations by using statements and social media posts to spread allegations that those who were anti-PECO before were actually pro-PECO today, because they “received” (or in local language: nakatukob) from the owners of PECO.

There were no specific names mentioned, of course. Understandably, social media posts are nothing but gossips that offer gray areas that is left for the receiver to fill in the blanks. 

The messaging was simply designed to develop a negative propaganda in order to shape a public perception that Alim and his camp are far genuine as far as their effort is concerned. While it is a 360 degree lie, I presume that it was permitted by his media strategists who has earned a reputation as a powerful group of media experts who can unleash a black-prop against opponents of their clients no matter how well meaning they are in society.

By putting civility and fairness aside, the demarcation line was marked on Alim– similar to what FDC had done to a “labor leader” (kuno) and a consistent loser candidate in elections named Jose Allen Aquino. Aquino was the one who spread similar lies way back the time when he has part of FDC. In fact, the lies that the Alim camp peddled originated from this guy, the reason why he was ceremoniously kicked-out as decided upon by a general assembly in spite of raising an issue of due process.

Aquino may have thought that people who run FDC are stupid. Unbeknownst to Aquino, he excitedly shared lies by carrying an ERC Order like a biblical document to legitimize an alleged pay-off among people whom he did not know were inactive members of the coalition. But kicking out the ass of this guy did not stop there. All succeeding organizations that Aquino became part of had followed what FDC had done on him – kicked his ass out forever.

And so they joined hands in an anti-PECO campaign and eventually in a political party for the 2019 elections using conveniently the anti-PECO position and the alleged pay-off without the benefit of an examination or validation.

What now did this political juncture in a midterm elections tell us? It clearly illustrate the inability of Joshua Alim, who is a lawyer, to wage a good and fair fight against his opponents without resorting to irresponsible attacks that may unnecessarily touched on the sensitivities and sentimentalities of hundreds of faceless people before him and who are constituents of Iloilo City.

Elections, sad to say, are episodes that puts to the test the sincerity, civility, and respectability of a politician as a leader. Certainly, Alim do not possess the character of an alternative leader that the new generation of Ilonggos demands and deserves in Congress. Alim have declared that he has never abandoned his people with free notarial service, free legal service, and free court appearances in his 29-year period of public service. But who else does not offer free services? Yet I find it admirable that he had the patience to sustain considering the possible reward of a congressional seat on the horizon.

Free services for the pooris charming and helpful. But extraordinary politicians are not shaped by his capacity to provide free services. No wonder Alim is being recognized as a typical politician among his colleagues, and, for them, he fits a mold of a trying hard Treñas, a trying hard Espinosa, and a trying hard Gonzales. I will make an exception (and in respect) on the 72, 012 who believed otherwise and who voted for him.

If there is anything good that came out from the congressional selection, it is a defeat of an Alim candidacy. It is rather safe for the Ilonggos to maintain a status quo than bring a new trapo in Congress.

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