Former Senator Bongbong Marcos at the Supreme Court.
Too soon to make speculations on the possible political landscape after President Rodrigo Duterte steps down as the country’s chief executive after completing his six-year term allowed by the 1987 Constitution.
But this early, in some social media platforms as well as online spaces, political cognoscenti, or at least some of them, have started talking about possible tandems or even just the top or the one ahead in the presidential-vice presidential yoke.
We have heard people talk about their preferences, these people unaware that we have a graphic memory for their exchanges – in public transport, where social distancing continues to be enforced, or in other areas where free speech continues to be exercised.
The exchanges have been underlined by recent supposedly independent surveys, showing the alleged preferences of respondents in the surveyed population, often not more than 3,000 combined in the different areas of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
We have heard people, the so-called ordinary men in the streets, talk about the surveys and the names of people who continued to pop up, some easily associated with name recall.
Consistent, if constant, in the exchanges is the name of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, who ran for Vice President in the 2016 national elections and has a pending electoral protest against the seated Leni Robredo of the Liberal Party.
Those who were talking about Marcos appeared to be even-handed, without the deserted long-windedness of partisans who have blinders thicker than their prejudiced political skin.
Instance, we heard some talk about Marcos’ record as a public servant for a total 32 years – from being vice governor of his province in Ilocos Norte, to being governor, then congressman in the province’s second district, the southern part of the province, for a total 12 years, interrupted only in 1992 when people from his father’s old district elected him their representative in the House of Representatives.
His stint at the House, again interrupted when he returned to Ilocos Norte as governor for nine years from 1998, gave the residents of the second congressional district of his province reasons to be proud of their erstwhile governor.
In his nine years as Governor, he transformed Ilocos Norte into a first-class province, showcasing its natural and cultural tourism destination areas, as well as its pioneer wind power technology in coastal Bangui town that serves as an alternative source of energy for the needs of the province and neighboring towns.
In 2010, Marcos won a seat in the Senate, placing 7th overall and first of the two real Senate newcomers.
There he chaired the Committee on Local Government and the Committee on Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlements, and was a member of several other committees.
In 2016, while running for vice president, Marcos often met up with local government officials, and the ordinary people we were with claimed they heard the man talk about how much he would like to continue to be the voice of local government.
They said they heard him talk about his heart belonging to the local and barangay leaders, that zone where he had the genesis of his political journey that gave him moments for public service.
One instance was, according to a Cebuano who spoke on condition he would not be identified and who claimed he attended a meeting of Marcos with local leaders in Daangbatnayan, no matter what position Marcos would hold in government the Local Government Units would always have a special place in his heart.
He quoted Marcos as telling the officials: “Sa local government nag-uumpisa ang tunay na kaunlaran kung kaya dapat makinig tayo sa local leaders natin at paigtingin pa ang partnership sa national government kasama na dapat diyan ang private sector dahil kung hindi magsasama-sama at magtutulungan ang lahat, hindi tayo makakapagbigay ng magandang programa na mararamdaman ng mga tao.”
He quoted Marcos as adding: “Ang puso ko, ang tingin ko sa sarili ko laking local government kaya kahit saan man ako mapunta asahan ninyo na meron kayong boses sa local government.”
Marcos credited this to his start in public service as a vice governor of Ilocos Norte and then serving for three terms as the province governor from 1998 to 2007.
Reason why, he said, when he became a senator in 2010, he specifically sought to be the chairman of the committee on local government so he could institute laws for the increase in local officials’ participation in national governance and push for their welfare.
Among those he authored were the Sangguniang Kabataan Reform Law and the extension of the term of barangay officials to five years as well as the giving of retirement benefits to barangay officials and volunteer workers.
“Palagi kong sinisigaw na dapat bigyan ng mas malaking boses ang local government, ang ating mga barangay kasi sila ang mas nakakaalam ng sitwasyon at saloobin ng ating mga kababayan at iyan ang mas lalo ko pang paiigtingin sa mga susunod na panahon,” Marcos was quoted as saying.
Marcos also noted the greater need for partnerships between the national government and local government but also with the private sector which he said was also crucial to the effective delivery of basic services to the people.
If we have this kind of political exchanges, more on what a person has done and what he can do if elected, we believe the country is up for something good in political governance. (AI/MTVN)