I write with an angry tone today. Having just survived Typhoon Frank’s assaults on Iloilo for three days, stark reminders of corrupt politicians’ follies kept rearing their ugly head all over the province. These follies consisted of substandard roads, bridges, public buildings, power installations, and communication facilities, unfinished or much-delayed flood control projects and other crucial installations, ill-planned projects, rape of watersheds and uncontrolled quarrying of river sand and gravel, and ambush of disaster aid, either for reasons of politics or for greed.
Disasters tend to highlight the follies of man but particularly that of our leaders and of politicians. It is a time for political reckoning and woe to the incumbent or to a past leader if and when a particular public facility identified with him fails and shows its corruption-caused weaknesses.
However, it is also an opportunity. Given the political proximity of the 2010 presidential elections, it does not need an intelligent mind or a discerning intellectual to conclude that presidentiables will be extraordinarily active in the aftermath of typhoon Frank’s destruction along a wide swath of the most strategic areas for presidential vote. Tough it certainly is for politicians in the GMA US entourage. The question will certainly be asked come 2010: Where were you when Frank was here?
It is interesting that the president did not cancel her trip even when she already knows the great damage the typhoon will cause–still opting to leave on the day Frank was raising havoc in Panay. It is the most graphic demonstration of her decision to leave the political scene.
Typhoon Frank will have the potential to significantly raise the political fortunes of some presidentiables–and lower or wipe out the fortunes of others. The political heartland in Luzon and the Visayas traversed by Frank contained more than sixty percent of the country’s voters. Traditionally, these areas make or break a national candidate, particularly a presidential one.
The tragedies brought by typhoon Frank exposed the record of past and present public officials in a manner that even the mass media can never do. It brought us up close and personal with the public record of leaders, real and fake. It is inevitable that citizens will link their personal and familial hardships to the corruption by traditional politicians, to their own responsibility in electing these into power, and-ironically–their own power to elect alternatives.
It is an opportunity for political change.