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The survey rankings of senatorial candidates in next week’s mid-term elections can shatter the positive attitude of even the most idealistic among us. Some of the worst candidates — not just undeserving, but pure garbage — are among the list of probable winners.

Last week I wrote about how I had carefully chosen my candidates from 62 contenders for only 12 seats in the Senate. Proceeding on the premise that the Philippine Senate should be populated by honest and intelligent individuals committed to public service, I disregarded the plunderers, the butchers and executioners, the certified illiterates and those who have clearly been using political power and unexplained wealth to fund their campaigns.

In spite of the spirit-boosting cheers of those supporting many of the candidates whom I voted for, most pundits and supposedly knowledgeable observers give them very little chance of winning.

The question is: If I had known that their chances of winning were slim would I still have voted for them? The answer is: Yes.

In fact, from the outset, most of my choices had already been pronounced DOA (Defeated on Announcement, which virtually means Dead on Arrival). But I voted for them anyway — because I felt that it was the right thing to do.

A friend told me, half-jestingly but half-seriously, too, that someone as wise in the ways of politics and politicians, media and media manipulators, as well as hustlers and hoods, should have bet on the sure winners rather than the sure losers.

I could have told him about the story of David, the sure loser, and Goliath, the sure winner, but that would have sounded too high-falutin’ and too mushy.

Instead, I recounted the example of my children — my youngest son, Jinky, and his slightly older brother, Jojo — who were members of a Colegio San Agustin team participating in a national tae kwan do tournament, several decades ago.

Their coach had decided to cancel their bout against a team of much larger and older boys. The coach reasoned that my children’s team were sure losers. But my kids and their team mates insisted on taking on their scheduled opponents. They were, of course, overruled by the coach who feared that the boys would be mauled and badly hurt.

To this, Jinky replied in tears: “At least, lumaban!” (At least we would have fought).

As a father, I think that what the coach did was right. He was just protecting his wards. But having been raised in the streets, I would probably have felt the way my children did. I would have insisted on getting on with the bout, in spite of its being a lost cause. Because, in sports, as in life, you can’t keep running away from a worthy fight because you are sure to lose.

If that were the case, the world would be ruled by bullies who would be served hand-and-foot by cowards.

It’s the same reason why I chose the almost-sure-to-lose candidates in the coming elections. Because I believe they deserve to win. And voting for them is the right thing to do.

Voting for a thief and a plunderer is not the right thing to do.

Voting for a butcher and executioner, someone responsible for extra-judicial killings is not the right thing to do.

Voting for a certified illiterate, a member of the Committee on Silence in the Senate, is not the right thing to do.

Voting for someone who has leveraged political power and translated that into a massive electoral war chest is not the right thing to do.

Maybe these plunderers, killers, illiterates and power manipulators will win but I will most certainly not contribute to their victory.

It’s bad enough being bullied. It’s unforgivable helping the bully to bully you. That’s worse than cowardice. That is stupidity.

At any rate, the bullies don’t always win. And the sure losers don’t always lose. Anyone who has read Budd Schulberg’s novel, What Makes Sammy Run?, will recall how the principal character, a Jewish boy named Sammy Glick, persisted in taking a route from his house where he was sure to be beaten up by bullies. He indeed got mauled several times. But he kept on taking the same route — until the bullies, confused over what Sammy Glick was up to, got scared and backed off.

Perhaps this is something President Rodrigo Duterte should also think about. It’s bad enough being bullied by China. It’s unforgivable helping China to bully the Philippines. That’s not just cowardice. That’s stupidity, as well as treason.

In an article in Forbes, dated Feb. 28, 2019, Panos Mourdoukoutas, Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics at Long Island University in Brookville, NY, wrote the following:

“South China Sea: Indonesia And Vietnam Prove Duterte Wrong – Indonesia joined Vietnam recently to challenge Duterte’s doctrine in the South China Sea. That’s the notion that any Asian-Pacific country that dares to tame Beijing’s ambitions to control the entire South China Sea will face war with China.

“This week, Indonesia drew a ‘red line’ in the South China Sea establishing fishing rights in areas where China claims ‘overlapping’ rights, according to BenarNews. Indonesia’s move comes roughly two years after the country renamed its maritime region in the southwest part of the South China Sea as the ‘North Natuna Sea,’ asserting sovereignty in the area.

“Meanwhile, Vietnam has taken its own steps to tame Beijing’s ambitions to control the South China Sea. Last month, Hanoi pushed for a pact to outlaw many of China’s ongoing activities in the South China Sea. Like the building of artificial islands, blockades and offensive weaponry such as missile deployments; and the Air Defense Identification Zone — a conduct code China initiated back in 2013.”

The fact that the writer singled out Duterte and compared his timidity to the boldness of Vietnam and Indonesia says something about the Philippines’ growing reputation for cowardice and for not doing the right thing. Hopefully, this has touched Duterte’s macho ego enough to cause him to warn China of “suicide missions” over disputed West Philippine Sea sovereignty. Standing for our rights is the right thing to do.

In Washington DC, the Democrats are debating whether or not to impeach President Donald Trump. Many believe that Trump has committed several impeachable offenses and should be held to account, even if the Republican-controlled Senate is almost certain to vote it down.

I agree. Even if the Republicans have lost their sense of right and wrong, the Democrats should impeach Trump because it’s the right thing to do.

Hopefully, on May 13, enough self-respecting Filipinos, who have not lost their sense of right and wrong will do the right thing and reject the plunderers, killers, illiterates and power brokers.

It’s bad enough that they could win. It’s sheer stupidity to help them win. Let’s reject them. It’s the right thing to do.


Greg B. Macabenta is an advertising and communications man shuttling between San Francisco and Manila and providing unique insights on issues from both perspectives.