WHILE all eyes are turned to the Presidential polls, the local contests from Representative, Governor, mayor all the way down to Kagawad have slipped the attention of the nation, as if what happens right under our noses locally does not have any bearing with the nationally elected officials.
This is far from the truth. In fact, what happens in the local elections is closely tied to the national arena with both sides of the political spectrum closely interrelated and fortunes made or broken for everyone.
Take, for example, Batangas. Not only is its proximity so close to the nation’s capital that media reaches out to it as if it is part of Metro Manila (or what they now define as the southern tip of Mega Manila), its major political players have gained so much national stature.
Let’s start connecting the dots, first from President Noynoy Aquino and his Liberal Party (LP) which has Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo as presidential and vice presidential candidates, respectively.
Partymate Ralph Recto is seeking another term in the Senate, he of the Recto political clan of Batangas, from ancestor Claro M. Recto, father Rafael Recto, brother Ricky Recto and – who else but the one and only – Vilma Santos Recto, multi-awarded “star for all seasons” who was full term Mayor of Lipa City, full term Governor of Batangas Province and now running for Congresswoman of the newly created lone district of Lipa City (District 6 – Lipa City used to be with District 4 which includes the municipalities of Rosario, Padre Garcia, Ibaan).
Hoping to slide into Governor after Ate Vi is the current Vice Governor Mark Leviste, he of the Leviste political clan which includes 1960s governor Feliciano Leviste, former governor and former Loren Legarda hubby Jose Antonio Leviste (convicted for murder, paroled under President Noynoy Aquino).
But it doesn’t end there. Hoping to move up in the LP Batangas ladder is Caloy Bolilia, currently Batangas Provincial Board Member (Sangguniang Panlalawigan) and now gunning for Vice Governor of the LP ticket.
But wait, there’s more! Llanda Bolilia, wife of Carlos Bolilia who was also a Provincial Board member before her husband has been serving as executive assistant to Governor Vilma Santos Recto. Llanda, who proudly uses the moniker “Siling Labuyo” (hot red chili pepper) for what she claims is her straight-talking no holds barred nature, is after the 4th district which is now split for her and Ate Vi.
Talk about connecting the dots. While the resources flow from the LP’s national war chest – no less from the Office of the President itself through that famous “Equity of the Incumbent.” According to Manuel Quezon III:
The “equity of the incumbent” is a term dating back to prewar days, which simply means that in any race, the incumbent should be given preference in getting officially anointed (and funded). An administration -any administration- finds its election-related problem to be simply, too many candidates, too few positions, too many people might get mad if you play favorites without knowing who will surely win.
In turn the local support and tributes flow upwards, in terms of vote delivery for the national candidates like Roxas, Robredo and Ralph Recto and, should they be successful, spoils of the offices which the hope to control.
Now multiply this by the country’s 81 provinces, 144 cities, 1,490 municipalities, and 42,028 barangays, lorded over by political clans and dynasties, by relatives, classmates, friends, neighbors and mistresses.
You get the picture.