By Alex P. Vidal
“The lack of money is the root of all evil.”—Mark Twain
THE agony of local officials under pressure which presidential candidate to support with finality in the May 9, 2022 election may be far from over.
Even if some of them have already openly declared support and commitment to a certain presidential candidate, there is no assurance the other presidential candidates will stop wooing them.
Times have changed. No one can tell with absolute certainty that he has somebody’s loyalty and support in the bag.
In fact, as the election day approaches, the “pressure” for some of these local officials to “rethink” their position increases.
It’s so stressful to be involved in the political musical chairs where the elements of treachery and backstabbing are very much possible especially when money talks.
Until the so-called fat lady sings, their tribulation and uneasiness will continue to hound them.
Especially if some moneyed presidential candidates will resort to wide-scale vote-buying as feared by many observers.
National candidates desperate to win will stop at nothing to amass an army of local officials who will carry their names in the sample ballots to be distributed to village dwellers.
Let’s hope there’s no truth to rumors that a substantial amount of cash is being dangled for municipal and city mayors and governors to shift support, or ensure the victory of certain national candidates.
We will just have to observe the local officials’ body language and strange last-minute behavior and remember what happened to survey frontrunners Joe de Venecia in 1998 and Jejomar Binay in 2016.
Anything can still be possible less than 60 days before the judgment day in the ballot boxes.
A red can still turn into pink vice versa. Commitments and so-called loyalty can still be shattered by the color of money.
I remember in 1990 when Agnes Españo, our managing editor in the News Express, suddenly asked me in the editorial room about the two movements or policies introduced by then Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
Like a history student in the classroom, I immediately blurted the words “glasnost” (openness) and “perestroika” (restructuring).
While editing an article one busy afternoon, Agnes was talking to a visitor and trying to urgently recall the two policies that made Gorbachev famous. She probably trusted my memory.
Glasnost and perestroika almost instantly flashed on my mind when I saw on ABC News March 10 a story about McDonald’s closing down 850 restaurants in Russia and froze its whole 30 years investment in Vladimir Putin’s territory.
Because of glasnost and perestroika, Western products like McDonald’s hamburger, Marlboro cigarette, among other none-Russian goods, were allowed in Russia.
They “westernized” the communist-controlled territory, the biggest in Europe.
This came after the collapse of the nightmarish Berlin Wall in 1989, the heavily guarded concrete barrier that separated West and East Germany since 1961.
This episode is very vital in the history of the former Soviet Union because admirers of Putin, or those who insisted that his attack on Ukraine was “justified” especially my friend, a professor from a reputable Iloilo university, have argued that “any Russian president would have done what Putin did.”
If Gorbachev were president today, Ukraine would not be invaded.
Gorbachev, unlike other communist or authoritarian Russian leaders, knew the importance of dialogue and negotiation; he didn’t think like Putin.
In fact, he listened to President Ronald Reagan who eerily exhorted him: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
The powerful speech Mr. Reagan delivered on June 12, 1987 became known as the “Berlin Wall Speech.”
There was a concession though. Gorbachev asked Reagan and NATO not to expand in Eastern Europe, in return, which is the bone of contention of Putin and his Filipino, including some Ilonggo, admirers.
Although NATO did expand in violation of that agreement, it was not enough reason to invade Ukraine and kill innocent and unarmed children, women and the elderly.
As I mentioned in my past articles, I have no tolerance for those who justify Putin’s wrong move especially when they strutted like intellectual peacocks and peahens and chided us that we don’t read the world history.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)