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Political agenda

Over the weekend, Rommel Ynion published several posts on Facebook outlining his views on what ails Filipino society in general, and Iloilo City in particular. One interesting post dwelt on corruption: Ynion said we should stop complaining about how corrupt our officials are, because there can be no corruption if the people don’t allow it. We deserve the kind of government we have, that’s essentially what Ynion was telling us.

Screenshot 2015-12-28 09.51.26I gave my own observations in reaction to the post. And there followed quite a long thread on our respective viewpoints. There are general agreement that voters are responsible for the kind of government we have. But I argued that voters as we know them now are incapable of making judgments that would lead to choosing leaders who truly look after their interests. Ignorance, brought about by poverty and poor basic services of government, is the culprit.

What struck me as significant is that politics in the Philippine setting has lost its brains. Just take a look at the television and radio commercials being aired — the treatment of vital issues affecting society is skin-deep. Nothing of substance can really be discerned. And the posts made by Ynion could initiate a move in the right direction.

It’s time the electorate demand to read and hear the views of candidates for the May 9, 2015 elections on the burning issues. With the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other social media, it’s possible for candidates to conduct virtual town hall meetings in which ordinary citizens can engage them with spontaneous questions and listen to their viewpoints.

We have reached a point when Facebook and Twitter has become accessible for ordinary Filipinos. Smart and Globe provide free access to their subscribers. Now, any Filipino citizen with a mobile phone can make his voice heard to their political leaders. Genuine leadership  makes it imperative for politicians to rise to the challenge.

So far, in Iloilo City, only Ynion has shown that he possesses the intellectual readiness with his views on issues. If he keeps up with similar posts, he should be able to articulate a well-crafted political agenda that every Ilonggo can ultimately claim as his or her own. That’s because as the discussions get deeper, Ynion will get to understand how people feel and know what their aspirations are.

Ynion might be running for a City Council seat this time, but it doesn’t stop him from assuming a position of leadership in Iloilo City. He can serve as a guiding beacon that would slowly, but surely, illuminate the minds of fellow Ilonggos and make them realize it’s in their power to achieve the changes in their lives.

Change does not happen in a vacuum. It requires a charismatic and determined leadership to make it happen. I strongly believe Facebook and other social media are giving us the singular opportunity to achieve that goal.

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The voice of hope

I must confess I was surprised at the images posted on Facebook these last few weeks showing Rommel Ynion doing house-to-house campaigning for his bid for a city council seat in Iloilo City as an independent.

I told myself, “This isn’t the same Rommel Ynion I knew in 2012, the guy who disdained having to wake up early to head out for the trenches, so to speak, and touch flesh with the people.”

Back then, the campaign staff literally had to haul Ynion from his bedroom to get him on the road to shake hands with people and convince them he was the better candidate for City Mayor after the 45-day campaign period had started.

Hardly a day had passed these last few weeks without seeing Ynion, trailed by an army of youth volunteers and women leaders in the barangays, doing house-to-house campaigning.

The intensity of his campaign showed Ynion is a different man than the mayoralty candidate I helped campaign for three years ago. Determination is written all over his face as he ignored the searing hot sun to meet constituents.

Nothing can stop us

“Nothing can stop us now.”

But nothing prepared me for the images that were splashed all over Facebook last week: Ynion campaigned even when a downpour kept everybody else indoors. That he was drenched from head to toe didn’t slow him down.

“I am doing this campaign as if my life depended on it,” Ynion told me over the phone a few days ago. He learned from his mistakes in the 2013 elections. He’s not about to commit the same mistakes all over again.

I haven’t had the opportunity to join Ynion in these house-to-house sorties, but with the help of Facebook, I have been able to track almost his every activity.

And the one thing that struck me in looking at the pictures is the delight that brightened the people’s faces when they shook hands with Ynion.

To his own surprise, many people he met on the dirt paths and bamboo-slat footbridges that he had to traverse to get to the innermost parts of the city — where the poorest of the poor lived — profusely thanked him for the help he had extended to them.

“I don’t remember having met you before, nor having done anything to help you,” he said time and again to these constituents. Then the people showed him the nebulizers that he had distributed three years ago, the DVD players and even toilet bowls in their shanties. Unknown to him, the Ynion name became a permanent fixture in their homes. His nebulizers even saved lives, he was told.

Salamat Rommel

Everywhere Ynion goes, there is always a heart warming scene of people thanking him for help he can’t even remember having made.

As a veteran political strategist, I had always counseled Ynion to devote more effort at house-to-house campaigning. I told him the people wanted to see him, touch him, and convey their gratitude to him in person. This is the greatest lesson I got from my former boss, the late Governor Niel Tupas Sr. I was extremely happy to see he heeded my advice.

The positive response to Ynion’s person-to-person campaigning has drawn a great amount of excitement among the people. All of a sudden, surveys conducted by RMN 774 showed Ynion in the top 6 among the prospective 12 winners in the elections. It is clear his name, and his message of hope (“paglaum”), are reaching the deepest recesses of the city.

There is reason for me to believe he might land on the number one slot.

With his down-to-earth style of relating with people, Ynion evoked memories of the late Evelio Javier when he was a young candidate for Governor of Antique back in the 70s running against the established political dynasties in his province.

One image that stuck to my mind about the Evelio Javier political campaign was his ability to draw children to accompany him in his sorties. The kids carried coconut palm branches as if these were rifles, and they were his praetorian guard to protect him. Antique was then known for private armies and the use of violence during elections. The children volunteered to be his bodyguards.

This time, Ynion is accompanied by youth volunteers, young adults who want to do their share in bringing change to a city constantly rocked by scandals of corruption, illegal drugs and murders in broad daylight (and some at night).

“My campaign has taken on a paradigm shift,” Ynion told me. “In the past, campaigns were always run by the older members of the community, and I fell into that tradition in the 2013 elections. Now I have involved the youth.”

Young kids pose with their idol

This campaign is dedicated to the next generation of Ilonggos – Ynion

Youth never fails to punctuate the message of hope. Ynion’s volunteers are aged between 18 to 25. Their sector constitutes the broadest segment of voters. And they are the most driven to campaign hard.

“I am truly amazed at the energy and devotion shown by my volunteers,” Ynion said, his eyes moistening as pride and gratitude swelled inside him.

During the first salvo for his campaign, the Ynion volunteers literally stormed the city’s barangays, leaping from one area to another to put up the orange-colored tarps showing his image with a simple caption: “Tingog sang Paglaum”.

And even when they ran into a wall of harassment by barangay leaders who wanted to lick the behinds of the incumbent officials — with their tarps torn down almost as soon as these were tacked on house walls and lamp posts — the kids refused to surrender. They simply came back with more tarps. For them, no intimidation, and threats of violence, could stop this orange wave from spreading and engulfing Iloilo City.

Tarps on parade cropped

The orange tide is spreading rapidly.

Ynion has taken a break from his campaign activities for the Christmas holidays. “For the next two weeks, I will spend every waking minute with them and shower them with hugs and kisses,” he said. He wants to “deposit” large amounts of love and care to his two children that should last them until election day. “After New Year, I will be back on the campaign trail and finish what I had set out to do,” he added.

Elections are still a good five months away. But this early, it is safe to bet that Ynion will secure a seat for himself in the City Council and become a voice for hope for the people.

G-Y-G district rally in Lapaz draws biggest crowd ever

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The year of living dangerously in Iloilo City

The year of living dangerously in Iloilo City

Two persons were seriously wounded just past midnight April 27 when unidentified suspects sprayed this car with automatic gunfire just outside the Western Visayas Medical Center in Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
The car’s owner, Lino Maranon, and a companion were taken to the St. Paul’s Hospital after the ambush in the busy street just 100 meters from the Mandurriao police station.
Police sources say this is apparently the handiwork of guns-for-hire, who seem to enjoy brisk business in a city run by a mayor with close links to drug lords and criminal syndicates.
Ironically, the city mayor is the chairman of the regional peace and order council. (Photo courtesy of Aksyon Radyo Iloilo)

The ‘baluktot’ gang strikes again

I received a text message shortly after lunch on Friday, March 15, that BIR commissioner Kim Henares had just concluded a press conference informing the Iloilo media about the elevation of the agency’s case against UNA mayoralty candidate Rommel Ynion to the Court of Tax Appeals. The charge: that Rommel Ynion had a tax deficiency of P46 million (down from the original claim of P84 million) from the operations of his businesses in previous years.

At first, it didn’t register in my mind that Henares conducted her press conference in Iloilo City. When I did, I suddenly realized that Rommel Ynion is now battling with the national government itself —- the Aquino administration. What wrongs have Rommel Ynion committed to warrant such a full-scale attack from the national government? There are so many tax cheats around, and they hardly merit time and space from the BIR (ina-areglo lang ang kaso).

The answer is politics. Henares quipped that she isn’t aware that Rommel Ynion is a candidate for city mayor. Who would believe her on that? Why was sent over to Iloilo City to hold the press conference? And why the haste in bringing the case to the Court of Tax Appeals? Somebody must really be so eager to put Rommel Ynion in bad light.

This is apparently another handiwork of the “baluktot” gang in Iloilo City, the gang of politicians who are raking hundreds of millions of pesos from infrastructure projects that they banner as “development projects”. They see Rommel Ynion as a threat to their rackets, and they want him out of the way. President Aquino is being misled about the true state of things in Iloilo City. The crooks are on his side, not on the other side.

Is President Aquino being blinded about the rampant corruption of Jed Patrick Mabilog and Jerry Trenas? Is he aware of the corruption in the Hall of Justice? Instead of a “matuwid na daan”, we are seeing a crooked road in Iloilo City, and the guys on the deck are this gang of three — Drilon, Trenas and Mabilog. Well, if their purpose is to harass and persecute, Rommel Ynion has vowed to fight to the last breath exposing the truth about the corruption. He will not surrender to this arrogant abuse of power.

Jing Jing uploads new slide.ly album

Iloilo City’s emerging drug lord Jing Jing Espinosa posted another slide show of photographs together with City Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog, Congressman Jerry Trenas and other city officials. It shows that the parties with these politicians are frequent, and their friendship is above acquaintance level.

Jacob NO Fear’s Slidely from Jacob NO Fear Espinosa on Slide.ly.

Dirty tricks from City Hall?

Is there a deliberate effort to sabotage the signal quality of the “Kapehan sa Bali”?
This question turned serious yesterday when a regular viewer turned up at the Bali Hotel yesterday to show video footage he took with his smart phone on the poor TV reception of the show earlier.

Kapehan sa Bali focuses on the launching of the maiden international flights to and from the New Iloilo Airport with the Bureau of Immigration officers headed by Noel Bangeles, Nov. 7. (Photo by Chona Guntao/The News Today)

I have been getting text messages from viewers since three weeks ago about the bad reception, and I was assured by SkyCable that those cases might be isolated to certain areas.
I made a quick survey in several areas and found out that indeed, the signal quality of my program was bad. The quality returned to normal after my program. I complained to the technical staff of SkyCable. I will file a formal complaint today.
Who else would be in a position to do this? The answer, I think, is obvious.