By JOHN TRIA
Reflecting on the grueling 90-day campaign period, many in Mindanao are hopeful that three senatorial candidates that fared well in pre-election surveys may win seats in the upper chamber, making a total of 5 for the island, the most, since the 8th Congress in 1987 when we had 4 out of 24. Many from Davao hope that two of their own may take seats, their first Senate representation
since the 1960s.
Many also remember that as the campaign for the midterm 2019 elections ended, the grand “miting de avance,” or final rally undertaken by regional political party Hugpong ng Pagbabago
(“Hugpong” or HNP) in Davao’s San Pedro street made history.
The HNP practically served as the administration umbrella political group under which several parties, including the President’s Pilipino Democratic Party Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), formed a common Senate slate.
From its Davao headquarters, it coordinated an effective national campaign, consolidating efforts of the allied parties, along with a mass base of its own volunteers in all parts of the country.
A walk back in history shows that no regional political party was ever able to mount the same. Local parties were never designed or intended to take on national politics. Many were short lived, consistent with their founders’ political fortunes.
At best, these groups would serve as local allies of Manila-based “national” political groups such as the UNIDO, Lakas CMD, and the Liberal Party.
The only national party that began in the “provinces” was the Pilipino Democratic Party (PDP) under former Cagayan de Oro Mayor and later Senator Nene Pimentel which later merged with the Manila based Lakas ng Bayan, forming PDP-Laban. This explains why a good number of their stalwarts are from Mindanao.
Thus, the deeper significance of the HNP in this election is that if its Senate slate succeeds as pre-election surveys predict, and if majority of its local and congressional candidates do win, it becomes the region-based political alliance to play a strong role in national politics.
Hate doesn’t win an election
The last two weeks of the historic midterm election saw a lot of hate and prejudice coming from many quarters emerging from the usual mudslinging among candidates. Much of this, as you may suspect, came from the ranks of opposition supporters who form a minority in the electorate.
Appalling was the unfair tendency of some of them to malign their opponents’ voters, talking down on them about the political choices they made. This has been counterproductive for them, turning away voters as surveys indicate, and undermining the electoral system in general.
I personally find that unfair and unbecoming, especially from those who claim to be part of the so called “intelligent” crowd, who must respect the choices of others in a democratic process where choice and the ability to exercise such is sacred.
The strong economy and the midterm elections
These midterm elections will also be remembered for how positive economic numbers thwarted efforts of one candidate to paint the picture of a failing economy.
Reduced inflation, lower official poverty numbers, lower hunger (SWS) and improved employment statistics belie claims of increasing poverty, and the TRAIN law that many in the opposition
claim as the root of “suffering” was a non-issue.
Instead, record revenue collections, including a 8.1% exceedance of revenue targets was achieved, and lower inflation figures show that this tax law is not to blame for inflation highs last year. The BBB+ credit rating from S and P obtained is a vote of confidence in the economic reform program.
Likewise, the emerging consensus among a growing number who monitor economic issues is that new tax laws strengthen our capacity to pay for new infrastructure we need, and bolster our capacity to pay loans.
Rest in peace, Abul Khayr Alonto
We are left saddened by the passing away of Secretary Abul Khayr Alonto of the Mindanao Development Authority. We deeply appreciate the support he extended to the business community in Mindanao, as a partner in pushing Mindanao’s growth, and advocating for a bigger slice of the national budget. His advocacies will continue on as new leaders emerge.
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