Redemptive Politics

Redemption is atonement but if a politician does not see it as such and merely spins it for purposes of repositioning and marketing his brand, what is there to redeem? We have seen politicians come and go and there are really good ones who, after a stint, decide to leave politics. And still there are those who will continue to try believing they can do better or do more.

A young politician so set in his ways and one of the names said to be moving heaven and earth to be chosen Speaker of the House of Representatives, said “politicians are liars.” If so, then he himself is one. The ridiculous thing is he would often quote the scriptures to show he is better than the rest. Are there any redeeming qualities in politicians of this kind?

Rarely will an old political hand be given a chance to redeem himself in the field where he or she fell. Rarely would the mandate of the people be with the individual the next time around. The position that will redefine and hopefully, redeem a politician of years is a strategic decision to make. Such were the cases of two former presidents of the Republic: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Joseph Estrada.

Both were very popular when they pursued the presidency. One earned her spurs as a technocrat, working in the Garments and Textile Export Board of the Department of Trade and Industry, to become senator and VP, and then the ultimate. The other started in local governments for years, then became one of two opposition senators in the 8th Congress. He went on to be elected VP and then president. Interestingly, both knew that timing was essential in running for president. All geared up and ready to do presidential battle, both slid to be the VP of their respective tickets. Both won via split tickets.

Estrada ran with Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. as his presidential candidate in 1992. He first floated the idea of running for the top position, only to fold up and join the National People’s Coalition. Estrada won the vice presidency and had to work with Fidel Ramos. Arroyo was teamed up with then speaker Jose de Venecia. She won the vice presidency and had to work with Estrada who bested all candidates for the presidency in 1998. Estrada didn’t finish his term as he was ousted by a popular uprising and was replaced by Arroyo. The latter had nine years as president but ended her term in ignominy since she was isolated and framed as such by the campaign of 2010 and the Aquino administration. The political skills of Arroyo are above the rest. She gave Estrada another lease on his political career by issuing a pardon that restored his civil and political rights. This allowed Estrada to run for mayor of Manila in 2012 and pursue his redemption.

Estrada was under house arrest for three years, but enjoyed privileges, unlike Arroyo who was in hospital arrest for six years and was denied use of essentials like a cell phone and computer. Estrada and Arroyo were in the forest; both came out pursuing their redemption in the field of politics. Estrada expanded his base and ran for mayor of the capital city. Arroyo ran for Congress to represent the hometown of her father, the second district of Pampanga. In the last year of her third term, she was elected to the speakership of the 17th Congress and she showed to all why she remained the best politician/technocrat in the country still. Her list of accomplishments in one year set the record for the most number of bills passed in one regular session. Her mantra, “My agenda is to act on the President’s legislative agenda,” echoed in the halls of Congress. Grudgingly, her opponents acknowledged her contribution while her base saw the old technocrat getting things done sans fanfare. Macapagal Arroyo’s zeal and drive were good for the Duterte administration and the nation. 
Today, she serves as consultant to the province of Pampanga where a new government center is taking shape in Clark City. A true redemption, indeed.

Then we have the narrative of Erap. A popular actor-politician who built a creditable record of local governance as mayor of the then municipality of San Juan, decided to try his luck in Manila, the seat of power in the country. Redemption seemed at hand as he had done it before; surely he could build a better Manila. Unfortunately, it was downhill after one term, with frontline services being neglected and the city achieving a level of decay never before seen in the city’s history. Manila was dark, dirty and broken. Public order was set aside and anarchy became the order of the day. There were whispers about certain family members lording it over Manila, one cornering the garbage contract, and another having a say in all the illegal activities in the city. Erap’s redemption became his fall.

Redemption is atonement but if a politician does not see it as such and merely spins it for purposes of repositioning and marketing his brand, what is there to redeem? We have seen politicians come and go and there are really good ones who, after a stint, decide to leave politics. And still there are those who will continue to try believing they can do better or do more.

One example is a former candidate for mayor of a city in the north. After losing an election, he was assisted to get back on his feet. He decided to run again in May 2019, this time as a congressional candidate. Too boorish in his ways, he played a childish act of denying contractual obligation, and his lawyer, too drunk with power, filed a case for the return of an acceptance fee. The lawyer filed a case in their city and not in the jurisdiction where the contract was signed. From mediation to actual court hearings, the politician and his lawyer never showed up. No counter-affidavit has been offered and the plaintiff continues to spend money because he wanted to give respect to court processes. This politician and his lawyer erred, sued and they had the temerity to use the court system to load the bases. This candidate won in May 2019. Will it be all power and getting things to favor them or will they be real for once and face their obligations?

And yes, “the wise man does at once what the fool does finally.”

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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of TheLOBBYiST.
About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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