Bayan Muna’s Jeppie Ramada lost in his bid for a council seat. Bayan Muna itself ended up second to Kalahi, the party-list group of the Nograleses that allegedly bought votes massively. It’s a disappointing loss, Bayan Muna concedes, but one that is very instructive for the Left.
BY MARILOU M. AGUIRRE
Posted by Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 16 May 27-June 2, 2007
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Late last year, Bayan Muna, the partylist group, expressed its desire to field a candidate for councilor of Davao City, in the person of the group’s vice president for Mindanao, Jeppie Ramada. Bayan Muna now thinks that it should have decided sooner.
Or, put another way, would it have helped this popular leftist group that embodies the kind of alternative politics that is anathema to traditional politicians – would it have helped had it been a little more mainstream?
Ramada, who lost in his bid for a council seat in the city’s Third District (he ranked 10th), was the youngest council candidate, a neophyte for all practical purposes. Almost two weeks after the elections, he is now convinced that he was not as prepared as the others.
“I learned that if you really want to join electoral politics, you must have at least a year of preparation,” Ramada told davaotoday.com this week. “But in my case, I started going around and introducing myself to the different barangays just this January, when the campaign period started,” he said. “So we didn’t have much time.”
Ramada said he expressed his desire to run late last year, with the full-backing of Bayan Muna. He was later endorsed by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and was made a guest candidate under the mayor’s political party, Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod. But, clearly now, not everybody the popular mayor endorses wins.
Part of the reason for his loss, Ramada said, is the fact that Hugpong’s decision to adopt him as guest candidate created a stir in local politics, not to mention that it ruffled some feathers within Duterte’s political circle.
House Majority Floor Leader Prospero Nograles, an ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, had reportedly wanted his protege, Gregorio Pantig, to be included in the slate of Hugpong in lieu of Ramada. When he was not included, Pantig ran as an independent but lost.
The sense among many here was that Nograles had nothing but contempt for Bayan Muna and Left, seeing how they have been key actors in the anti-Arroyo movement. The Ramada factor may have contributed to the schism between Nograles and Duterte, who, a few days before the elections, publicly castigated Nograles for not doing his part in their political alliance and for spending more time promoting Kalahi, the partylist group of the congressman’s son Karlo.
Established name, machinery
In any case, Ramada said that most of the candidates who ran for the eight seats in his district had already established their names in local politics and had built up a political machinery over the years. Still, Ramada got 46,411 votes out of the 198,861 registered voters in 82 barangays – not bad, given that it was Ramada’s first attempt.
If ever another leftist attempts to run for a local position, Ramada advises that, although the backing of a major political party is crucial, preparations must be done ahead of time.
Obviously, Ramada pointed out, being carried by a political party is not a guarantee of victory. “But it is very helpful because many would campaign for you and that it is easier to organize campaign sorties,” he said.
Ramada, however, did not hide his disappointment that some members of Hugpong deliberately junked him. “This (junking) is probably a natural phenomenon in politics and I have accepted this fact. But it is not a good practice,” he said.
Another reason for his debacle, Ramada said, was the relentless black propaganda against his group and other progressive groups, partylists and their candidates. Red-tagging or McCarthyism, he said, really had in impact on voters.
Last march, soldiers said they recovered campaign paraphernalia of Bayan Muna, including Ramada’s, from members of communist New People’s Army (NPA) who were fleeing from the military in Barangay Tagurano, Toril District. Toril is part of the Third District.
The military has accused Bayan Muna of being an NPA front, which the group has always denied.
In Toril and Marilog, the military campaigned consistently against the leftist groups and Ramada particularly, through town-hall meetings and gatherings in which they also showed the documentary “Know Your Enemy,” which enumerates legal and open groups as communist fronts. The soldiers would tell the residents that if Bayan Muna won, it will give its money to the NPA to buy arms and ammunition.
But it didn’t use to be like this. In the history of Davao politics, Davaoenos always embraced candidates from the Left.
Angela Librado-Trinidad, who won in this year’s race in the First District, is a known leader of Bayan Muna. She is a strong advocate of women’s and human rights. Her first attempt to break into Davao politics was in 2001. She she won and has never been defeated since then. The next three years is her last term at the City Council.
Librado-Trinidad’s parents, the late Erasto “Nonoy” Librado and Marlene Librado, had established their names as competent public servants in the City. Her father was a leftist labor leader who went on to win a council seat in the 1992 elections. But he served only for 54 days – he died of aneurysm in August of 1992. His wife, Marlene, was appointed to replace him in February of 1993. She won in the two succeeding local elections. In 2001, Librado-Trinidad took her mother’s place.