A Tale of Two Priests

  • Philippines quarantines man over MERS fears

    Philippines quarantines man over MERS fears

    AFP News
    Philippines quarantines man over MERS fears

    Philippine health authorities said Wednesday they have quarantined a Filipino who arrived from the Middle East because he tested positive for the deadly MERS virus. The man, who arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday, is not yet showing symptoms but has been isolated in hospital, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said. The Health Department is also quarantining the man's family and tracing the people who had contact with him during his flight to see if they may also be infected with the MERS or …

  • Philippine leader apologises over 'world's worst airport'

    Philippine leader apologises over 'world's worst airport'

    AFP News
    Philippine leader apologises over 'world's worst airport'

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino publicly apologised on Wednesday for failures in air conditioning at Manila airport, already named by an online travel guide as the world's worst. The fresh debacle at Terminal 1, used by foreign airlines, came as millions of Filipinos begin travelling for the Easter holidays during one of the hottest months of the year. The transportation ministry also issued a separate public apology Wednesday, on the eve of four-day Easter holidays in the Catholic …

  • Philippines says peace pact should hold despite clashes

    Philippines says peace pact should hold despite clashes

    AFP News
    Philippines says peace pact should hold despite clashes

    The Philippines said Wednesday it was confident a peace deal with the country's largest Muslim rebel group would hold despite fresh clashes that left four of its members dead. …

  • MMDA hires 300 students for summer experience

    MB

    Manila, Philippines -- The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has opened its doors to students who want a learning experience in government service while earning this summer to finance their education come June. A total 300 students were hired under the Special Program for the Education of Students, which gives students from poor families opportunity to learn what it is like working in public service and provide them with financial means to continue their education. In …

  • House Bill promoting bike-riding backed

    MB

    Lawmakers, led by Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte Jr., yesterday rallied behind a bill seeking the creation of the local bikeways office (LBO) to promote bicycle riding among Filipinos. Belmonte, along with Deputy Majority Leader and Citizens Battle against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, AKO Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe and Isabela Rep. Rodito Albano expressed the Lower Chamber's readiness to work with Senate counterparts to move torwards  the passage of the …

By Ramon Casiple for Yahoo! Southeast Asia

The 2013 local elections will have two priests running for governorship of two provinces. Not only do these events indicate a trend but these reflect the seriousness of the problems of traditional politics in the Philippines.

Fr. Eduardo "Among Ed" Panlilio will run for re-election for the post of Pampanga governor while Fr. Leo Casas will run for the first time for the post of Masbate governor. Both were executive director of the social action centers of their respective dioceses. From this vantage point, they observed the corruption, political violence, and subversion of the people's will by the traditional elite who—as they consolidate power—developed the political dynasties that today dominate much of our political landscape.

In time, the lesson sinks in. The political elite will not relinquish the power or allow meaningful participation of ordinary citizens in governance. They would prevent the emergence of leaders from below or coopted them into the traditional political system. The electoral contest in many places reduces to one between a "greater or lesser evil."

The dearth of viable candidates is directly related to the extremely weak political party system. The latter cannot function independently of their elite leadership and serves only to maintain the facade of democratic choice, mobilizer of warm bodies, and otherwise serve to support the pre-determined candidacies of dynastic figures.

Frs. Panlilio and Casas represent the alternative road to anti-dynastic politics. Once again, church people are rising to the call of political reforms in the country, just as they did before during the Marcos dictatorship. They blaze the trail in this endeavour, making the point that ordinary citizens and their leaders can participate meaningfully in democratic elections.

However, they face formidable odds. When Fr. Panlilio won in the 2007 elections and lost narrowly in the 2010 elections, both the positive and negative lessons of solid organizing, wide-ranging coalition-building, and painstaking education of the citizen-voters came to the fore.

Will these lessons be really learned? To be sure, the starting point now is far different and on a higher plane than in the last elections. Both run under the ruling liberal Party, with support from the President himself. The president's reform agenda is well within their own platform and they therefore embody the continuing reform momentum under this administration.

In Pampanga, Fr. Panlilio runs against the still-formidable machinery of former Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her hand-picked governor-candidate Lilia Pineda. In Masbate, Fr. Casas runs against the warlord families in the province. They have their work cut out for them. The voters of Pampanga and Masbate also have their choices before them, as clear as never before. Will they deliver the votes?

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

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