‘Crazy’ JC: Of God and monstersBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
In a recent interview on GMA 7, John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes, head of the Church-backed party Ang Kapatiran (Brotherhood), was asked by the anchor, “Do you get offended by comments that you’re crazy for running in the 2010 presidential election and, again, in this year’s senatorial polls?”
“I don’t know why he asked that question. But I told him I’m not offended by any question,” De los Reyes said.
De los Reyes launched his campaign for a seat in the Senate in his hometown Olongapo City on Feb. 12, he vowed to slay what he called the “monsters of political dynasties.”
De los Reyes, who lost the 2010 presidential election, was referring to most, if not all, the senatorial candidates of the administration Team PNoy and the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), including Richard Gordon, the patriarch of his own clan.
Gordon, a former senator, is the brother of De los Reyes’ mother, Barbara.
The two coalitions, he said in an interview with the Inquirer, fielded “candidates from the same families who have been in power for such a long time.”
De los Reyes called their style the epitome of “transactional politics and the politics of greed and hypocrisy.”
Some of them, he noted, are “part of the current Senate where there are not only too many political dynasties and too many pseudopolitical parties, but also too much interpersonal relationships and too much of the old-boy club.”
“Sad to say, in the Senate, the motivation is simply to win and win every election,” he said.
“In terms of speaking for the people as a collegial body and compared to the House of Representatives, the Senate is incomparable,” he said.
Grading the Senate
“In terms of siding with the people, I give them a 6. But in terms of really moving forward key legislation, it’s a 5. In terms of resources, it’s 9 for me and 1 for the people. That is, considering the customs and traditions in the Senate and how the norms are,” he said.
De los Reyes, a former Olongapo councilor, made special mention of Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, saying he was “hoping Miriam would deliver, but she later on became off.”
“Actually, she was there already, hitting the right buttons and speaking for the people in terms of speaking against political dynasties, pork barrel, how they spent public funds. But she made a 360-degree turn. She reverted to the old way. I was disappointed, to say the least,” he said.
De los Reyes described Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile as “simply a traditional politician, or trapo par excellence.”
“It’s about time we put people in the Senate who are willing to lose socially, lose financially, or even lose their lives so that radical legislative reforms can move forward,” he said.
“Reforms like a much-needed political dynasty bill, responsible political party bill and amendments to the Internal Revenue Code … We are here to push the Kapatiran platform, which also aims to go all out against the pork barrel system, gun control and fight for the freedom of information,” he said.
Right now, he stressed, “we have too many laws.” What the Senate needs to do, he said, is have “good faith” and focus on key legislation, such as the political dynasty bill and gun control.
The Senate, De los Reyes said, should also review the “infamous pork barrel.”
“If elected to the Senate, I will execute an affidavit of undertaking that I will not avail [myself] of the pork barrel,” he added.
Asked what’s wrong with pork barrel, he pointed to the “discretion to spend the funds when priority projects have been identified and approved (by the National Economic and Development Authority) down to even the barangay development councils.”
“I don’t think (the senators) should be the ones to say where the money should be spent. Of course, they’re going to spend it where they will make money,” he said.
Like political dynasties, he said, “pork barrel will not be part of the new politics my party mates (Marwil Llasos and Lito David) will be championing.”
“No to the politics of immoral compromises. That is why, our battle cry is tatlo kontra trapo (three against traditional politics),” he said.
Last to finish
Of the nine presidential candidates in 2010, De los Reyes finished last, polling less than 45,000 votes. Then Sen. Benigno Aquino III won the election with 15.2 million votes, or 42.08 percent of the total number of votes cast.
“In 2010, several bishops supported the Ang Kapatiran party and even named me as their (presidential) candidate,” he said.
History is repeating itself, he said.
“When we go around, we really can feel that there are undercurrents among the Catholic laity and if the momentum would continue, there would be a Catholic vote,” he said.
De los Reyes said he was “confident of getting more Catholic votes this time,” although he was not sure whether that would land him a seat in the Senate.
Asked about his party’s game plan, he said Ang Kapatiran was “planning to cover most, if not all the provinces, especially the vote-rich communities.”
“But I would be honest and say we’re very much in need of campaign funds. We’re really struggling, really struggling. We have nothing to brag about compared to the billions in pesos of the campaign kitties of our opponents in Team PNoy and UNA. But the elders of the party are buttressing our campaign funds,” he said.
Ang Kapatiran is “parish-based,” he said. “So we consolidate parishes and when we go there, a substantial number of people representing several parishes show up. We also go to Catholic fiestas and other religious events.”
The party’s recent campaign in Baguio City was “coordinated with the local Parish Pastoral Council,” he said.
“It was a small crowd. It was lean and mean. The leaders of the community showed up. But I have to admit, had the crowd been bigger we would have a hard time paying for the merienda. As I’ve said, we have so much difficulty with funds,” he said.
Despite the party’s financial woes, De los Reyes ruled out turning to celebrity endorsers.
“Not at all. I don’t think any celebrity would endorse people like me and my Kapatiran party mates. There’s really nothing worldly in what we are doing. It’s really a different charisma. What we’re pushing is politics at its best. We want to offer the Filipino people the politics of truth, politics of virtues, politics of conscience and all that would negate show biz, gimmickry and double talk,” he said.
“It’s in our character that because of some people’s blatant disregard for principles and platform, we just have to do something radical,” he said.
Despite what his detractors say, De los Reyes strongly believes he is cut out for the Senate. “I really believe that radical ideas and ideologies change the world,” he said.
“Communism changed the world. The social teachings of the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II unmasked the Iron Curtain. It’s really new and radical ideas that are needed in the Senate. And controversial ideas like, for example, the idea that we’re setting standards in politics where politicians are there to speak the truth,” he said.
De los Reyes said his role models are “those who shun the system” and among them are former Sen. Rene Saguisag and former Rep. Ted Failon, who is again an ABS-CBN broadcaster.
“They’re people who say the system sucks and they won’t be a part of it … I believe that in this kind of environment, you either die a hero or you live long enough to be a villain. You really have to hit hard,” he said.
How about Gordon?
Asked if Olongapo folk, if not voters from other parts of the country, should also support his estranged uncle Richard Gordon, De los Reyes said, “That’s OK with me.”
He said he was not angry with Gordon. It’s just that “we’re just so different,” he said. “He is the brother of my mom. I’m respectful, but his personality is so strong. I won’t humiliate myself,” he said.
Uncle and nephew have not been on speaking terms for quite some time.
In a recent interview with the Inquirer, Gordon said: “They say I come on strong. I get into trouble because I am frank and candid. But that’s me. I’m sorry, but there’s no ill intention in what I say. If you don’t like it, so be it. They say I’m arrogant. Maybe they just have an inferiority complex.”
First posted 12:03 am | Sunday, April 28th, 2013