I have a question: are we poor because we are corrupt, or are we corrupt because we are poor?
The news is out. Governors Padaca (Isabela) and Panlilio (Pampanga) are being pushed to run for the top national positions this 2010 Elections, and they seem to like it. A lot of people believe, especially that group called Kaya Natin, that these non-corrupt people are bound to make the Philippines much more progressive.
I won't speak about Padaca, because I do not know Isabela that well. Being in the province of Pampanga, well, hello Amung Gob.
Spotlight went to Kapampangans when Panlilio, a priest, won over Mark Lapid and Baby Pineda (why is it when Baby Pineda is mentioned in Inquirer or Philippine Star, they always add the appositive "wife of alleged jueteng lord Bong Pineda"? Why don't they mention Panlilio with an appositive "alleged lover of Pampanga Provincial Administrator Vivian Dabu"? Alleged lang naman e).
For Panlilio, there was no separation of Church and State. Rooted on the religious side, he was bound to run the province like a church priest—which can mainly mean three things:
a. Corruption and other evil deeds in the province are bound to bid farewell, because they are considered sinful in Catholicism. As a priest, it is his duty to not do those and prevent members of his government from doing them. This they called "Good Governance." (I called it Clean Governance, but it didn't gain as much popularity.)
b. There is no democracy in the Catholic church; the priest delivers sermons and all you can say are amen, pray for us, alleluia, and peace be with you and also with you. You can barely approach the priest to suggest things for the betterment of the religion or of the mass. If you want to help, just donate coins or bills. Have faith in thee! Ikami na ing bahala; mas close na ke man king Apung Ginu. Mas balu mi ing dapat. (Leave everything to us; we're closer to God anyway. We know better what must be done.)
c. Like that spray-paint vandalism in the movie 'Watchmen,' saying: Who watches the Watchmen? I ask: To whom do priests confess their sins? Certainly not to the lay people.
Panlilio won through the support of a lot of Kapampangans. Backed up by NGOs, businessmen, some members of the Church perhaps, and other volunteers (me included, doing Internet propaganda), Panlilio's victory is very well a victory of these Kapampangan people.
For a time it was nice. Non-corruption, oh yeah! True income from quarrying made the province millions of pesos wealthier compared to Lapid's time. Panlilio gained bigger national attention when he returned a mysterious bag of dough distributed by Malacanang. It presented empirical evidence of the corruption happening in the national government, and Panlilio's name became muh more fragrant to the Filipino imagination.
But it was a different case in Pampanga. One by one, his supporters, such as the passionate NGO called ADCL (Advocacy for the Development of Central Luzon), major projects/engagements of which were the quality construction of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway or SCTex, the Pampanga Bay Development Plan, the formation of a Pampanga Bamboo Development Council, and Palengkenomics, and business groups like the Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and other well-meaning individuals, were getting pissed with Panlilio's style of governance.
He felt everyone else was corrupt, even his former supporters, and refused to listen to well-meaning groups wanting nothing but the development of Pampanga. Blind Panlilio fans such as the Philippine Daily Inquirer (who once named the priest-turned-gov 'Man of the Year') stupidly assumed at once that these former supporters didn't get any special favors from Panlilio after his victory, causing them to become bitter and obnoxious towards Panlilio.
The members of Ateneo-spawned Kaya Natin Movement, led by Harvey Keh, including amateur Manila-based student-activists (whose opinions on Panlilio are shallowly based on how Manila portrays Panlilio; in short, second hand info) appointed themselves as crusaders of good governance (ehem, clean governance, I say; there's a difference), and Panlilio was among those chosen to personify the proper way of leading a political unit. Genuine concerned citizens of Pampanga got more demonized.
Blind Panlilio fans assumed that everyone who signed the recall petition against their god were merely paid to sign by demoniacs. Hence, insulting the intelligence of many Kapampangans who signed because, REALLY, there's a difference between CLEAN governance (where intellect is not needed) and GOOD governance (where intellect is needed), and Panlilio is undeniably a great practitioner of the former, but not the latter.
Governance is not an "it's-the-thought-that-counts" thing from which we feel all warm and fuzzy inside during birthday parties, romantic monthsaries, and high school reunions. Thought is not just enough. It's like putting isopropyl alcohol on a friend's open wound because you're concerned with his condition—but, come on, are you sure you're doing the right thing? Or should you be thanked because it's the thought that counts?
But that's not even a complete analogy in the Panlilio style of governance. How about putting isopropyl alcohol on a friend's open wound out of concern and—despite well-meaning people around you suggesting better/more proper ways of cleaning the wound—you still insist that isopropyl alcohol would do the trick, and think to hell with all of them (except one girl, teehee).
There's another analogy created by an NGO co-member. Who here wants a driver who can clean your car spotless? The catch is, he doesn't know how to drive. People wish to offer him driving lessons FOR FREE, and some suggest downloadable manuals on driving, but the driver suspends his own sense of hearing and thinks, "You're not the driver, so shush!"
No doubt. Panlilio is a clean man. He means well.
My point—our point—is that Good Governance is not just about being saintly. Some would argue: we had intellectuals like Marcos and Arroyo run the country, and they failed, because they were evil, and they used their intellect to serve private desires at the expense of the Filipino people.
Well, as choosy as I am with friends or romantic partners, I have the right to be choosy with my President. Damn these evil intellectuals. Screw these smart-ass non-corrupts. I want none of them. Curse also the voters who settle for puwede na/lesser evil candidates.
I want an astoundingly intelligent President whose desire for Philippine progress is not only genuine and pure but also aggrrrrrrressive. Panlilio, a kabalen of mine, won't just do. But then again, he wouldn't listen.
He could win. He might just win. If it's the way to expose Panlilio's quarter-baked concept of good governance to the rest of the Philippines, then I'll find me a wishing well, throw in a couple of coins, and pray for his victory. If such event happens, I'll be the first to roll my sleeves up and volunteer to sweep the soiled fragments of the shattered myth we all knew as Eddie Panlilio.
But allow me to prophesy: if Panlilio proves to be unproductive in the national seat, I hear blind loyal fans screaming from the future: "How can he be productive? People around him are always bringing him down."
If Eddie Panlilio would indeed bring a brighter Filipino future as President without changing the way he is as governor of Pampanga, I would gladly have myself crucified at Cutud on my 26th birthday, and promise myself to focus intensively on purifying my deeds, burn all my books and sociological readings, and curse the forsaken Marxists.
Sorry I didn't mention anything about Rizal, despite the title. What do you think though? Who would our national hero root for in case he rose from the dead?
If only we can vote for 'whats' (ideas/plans/platforms) instead of fragile 'whos'...