Towards new politicsCebu Daily News
In the heady days after the ouster of Joseph Estrada from Malacañang in January 2001, there was a loud clamor from civil society groups for Philippine leaders to usher in a new brand of politics or “bagong politika” in Tagalog.
The slogan received a boost from then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who had waxed humble before the Edsa Dos crowd and country that was willing to give her a chance, telling them that she had no ambition of becoming a great president, only a good president.
Today, Arroyo faces a host of cases for allegations of countless anomalies during her nine years in office. So much for “bagong politika” and a good presidency.
We make mention of new politics because, like the multiple headed Hydra of mythology, its defeat entails a long struggle and one of its longest living heads can be gleaned in Cebu.
We salute Rep. Tomas Osmeña of Cebu City’s south district for in effect reconciling with Rep. Eduardo Gullas of the province’s first district through the generous gesture of waiving in favor of the latter district P400 million in infrastructure funds.
Gullas announced last Saturday that the money will be used to augment the funds for road widening from Carcar City to Sibonga town.
It is easy to say that Congressman Osmeña simply put the money where his allegiance is (with the Liberal Party, that is), since Gullas’ party, Alayon, is now allied with the administration.
At the same time, Osmeña’s move shows us several things.
First, that his caustic feud with Gullas over a portion of the South Road Properties that Talisay City claimed and their subsequently chilly relationship after the court decided in favor of Cebu City was unnecessary.
Second, that the flyover near the Mormon temple in barangay Lahug, Cebu City that would have been funded by the realigned money is not really urgent and indispensable, otherwise the money would have been more zealously guarded.
Third—and this is the sad point—that a district can be deprived of their own projects amid the clash of political titans in a locale, for the province’s gain in this case is the loss of the residents of Osmeña’s district.
According to Osmeña, he made an offer for the money to be used for road paving projects in Cebu City, but Mayor Michael Rama objected, saying—and he had a point—that it would have been wasteful to repair undamaged roads.
The two should not have let things end there. Osmeña ought to have taken Rama’s stand as an invitation for the former to think of other uses for the money in his district and Rama ought to have proposed such alternative uses.
New politics will prevail only when politicians:
1. Refrain from wasting their energies on conflicts that paralyze governance.
2. Learn to be humble enough to solicit the people’s opinion about what constitutes urgent projects, and
3. Hold themselves accountable for delivering the goods to the very people who voted them into office.