A Bicolano Betrayal

” ‘Tis not seasonable to call a man a traitor that has an army at his heels.”
John Selden (1584-1654), British jurist, statesman. “Traitor,” Table Talk (1686).

We pride ourselves with our regionalistic inclinations. We identify ourselves with our friends, relatives, and neighbours. And we find ourselves more in common with our kababayan. Our townmates, provincemates, and yes, our cabalens, kabayans, kasagpi, kauragon, etc., are our extended primos. Especially when we speak the same dialect.

Ferdinand Marcos was the pride of the Ilocandia. The Osmenas, the Visayans. Diosdado Macapagal, his cabalens from Pampanga. FVR, the Pangalatoks. Now here comes Raul Roco, the unmistakeable rocket of Bicolandia. “Sain ka maduman, Raul Roco?” Quo vadis, Raul ? What happened to your kababayans? Why are they forsaking you?

It came as a shock when the governor of Camarines Sur where Roco comes from, being its erstwhile congressman for two terms, has spoken in behalf of the six governors from the Bicol Region that they are, to a man, a believer of Danding Cojuangco. When asked why he’s supporting Cojuangco, Gov. Villafuerte said, “We’d rather support a non-Bicolano. Raul Roco does not deserve our support.” That came as a bolt from the blue. How do the Bicolanos react to that declaration? Do these governors, with their much vaunted political machinery, have the capacity to elect Danding as President?

Bicolanos unite! This is the best time to change your governors! These elected officials are blind to the aspirations of their constituencies. For almost a century, the Bicolanos have patiently waited that one of them would some day occupy Malacanang. Tecla San Andres Ziga was the region’s first senator. And there were others after her. Louie Villafuerte was once a top Bicolano honcho, who had the ear of Marcos. With the dictator around and his first family and the other military and cabinet heavyweights, Villafuerte contented himself as just like that.

But the most elusive prize is yet to come. Now, more than ever, the Bicolanos have the best bet in the person of Roco. In 1998, Roco slugged it out with Erap. He was overwhelmed by the Masa who thought that Erap was their messiah. In retrospect, a great number of the electorate now looks at topnotch lawyer Roco as the best bet in 1998 only that, we have tried the likes of him before. Choosing Erap, the actor, was a leap in the dark. Indeed we groped ourselves back into the light. Now that the spotlight has once again focused on Raul Roco, with some handlers calling him as the man to beat, the Bicolano governors have a different agenda of their own. To further jolt Roco, they opted to make the Bicol region, Naga City at that, as the first leg of the Boss’s listening sortie. Whoever thought of that gambit must be skinned alive. Roco must be seething from within. He expects his compatriots to fall behind his second wind, not to sabotage it. The Tagalogs, not known generally for being petty, have an apt aphorism, “kung hindi man ako makakatulong, hindi ako makakasagabal.”

Those governors not only have they announced their treachery; they have made known their intention to tear down. For in a political contest, what else will they do to Roco since they have proclaimed already their preference to his most likely opponent? “There is no substitute for victory,” claimed Carlos Romulo. Expect therefore the wrecking crew of these local chiefs training their guns towards Roco’s direction. What, on the other hand, if Roco wins? Where shall we pick up those governors? Hence, they have unnecessarily burdened themselves by campaigning for whoever is Roco’s opponent just to ensure that Roco doesn’t make it. This is crab mentality at its best.

It was a sorry sight, these governors and local leaders humouring Cojuangco as he alighted from his Lear Jet. They were grinning from ear to ear, introducing Danding to their drivers, gofers, and factotums. “Boss,” they chorused, “where we’re going there’d they go!” While Danding was strutting naked in Naga City, these low lifes were one in saying, “Boss, what a fine outfit you have.” What about the 5,000 well-wishers? Danding is familiar with the hakot-system; he might even be its inventor.

It was even more pathetic for a Visayan congressman to boast, when he was waving the written signatures of 70 congressmen who expressed their support to GMA, claiming that easily each one of them could deliver 50,000 votes. Whose leg was he pulling? Has he not heard of the fate of Ramon Mitra who had the legendary backing of the entire Congress in his run for the Presidency in 1992? This is not lost to Danding, and as we said, this is the cause of his deep misery. As a sabungero, he knows that his Kristos are two-faced freeloaders.

This early, the Bicolanos have already made their decisions. In their various Capitolios come July, 2004, there’ll be new tenants, certainly not the six stooges who betrayed their kababayan.

In 2004, those governors are by their lonesome, mercifully. They have no army to speak of, thus, we can conveniently call them nothing but cheap traitors.

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