Left Behind: The Political Education of Jeppie Ramada

Meanwhile, Luz Ilagan and her husband, the late human-rights advocate Larry Ilagan, were known street parliamentarians in the ’80s. Luz, a professor, was appointed as councilor from 1986 to 1988. She ran and won in 1998 and served until 2001. She is the current national chairperson of Gabriela and concurrent second nominee of the Gabriela Women’s Party.

Ramada said that even though leftists like him, Librado-Trinidad and Luz Ilagan are accepted in mainstream politics, people’s preference – because of the country’s poor economic condition – is often dictated by the ways of traditional politicians.

Days before the May 14 elections in Davao, some candidates were busy buying votes with cash and grocesy items. It has been reported that cash ranging from 50 to 150 pesos – including rice, sardines and noodles – were given to residents. Barangay captains and councilmen were likewise offered 500-1,000 pesos each.

Kalahi vote-buying

In the party-list race here, vote-buying had a significant impact, according to Representative Joel Virador, Bayan Muna’s executive vice-president. “What Kalahi did had an impact,” he said, referring to the the partylist group of Karlo Nograles that allegedly has connections with Malacanang. Kalahi is supposedly representing overseas Filipino workers. Karlo Nograles is its second nominee.

Days before the elections, Kalahi was widely reported as having bought votes by giving out insurance cards, movie passes, cash and grocery items.

Based on Comelec figures, Kalahi lead the party-list race in the city, with 40,204 votes compared to Bayan Muna’s 25,795 votes. Bayan Muna was the leading party-list here in the last two elections. In this election, it ranked second to Kalahi.

For Omar Bantayan, the vice-president for Mindanao of Anakpawis, another leftist partylist group, Kalahi’s victory, if ever, means traditional politics is still alive and kicking. “This group was voted not because of its principles and programs but because it gave out noodles, sardines and insurance cards,” he said.

Because majority of the people are suffering from high cost of prices of basic goods and commodities, increasing unemployment and underemployment rates, elections have evolved into a season of employment and money-making activities, Ramada said.

“In principle, new politics is correct. But as long as the people suffer from extreme poverty, traditional politics is here to stay,” Ramada conceded.

For Bayan Muna, its experience in Davao City is instructive, to say the least.

“We win, we lose or we don’t hit our target – but it is our task to increase the level of the people’s awareness,” Virador said. “We see the need now to try harder to explain to the people the problems of landlessness, education and housing, among others.” This, Virador said, is its primary purpose, more than winning a seat in the City Council or in Congress.

And achieving this purpose, Virador said, could translate to more victories for the Left in future elections. Davao Today /(Bulatlat.com)

Share This Post