THE disqualification against third district congressional bet Albee Benitez may not succeed legally. After all, the law is subject to various interpretations aside from the reality that money talks. But the fact remains that Benitez is a complete stranger to the district. Born in the United States, he was an American citizen until he renounced it recently as a prelude to his running for congressman. He grew up there, he studied there, he lived there and if he has a wife, he most likely married there. He knows next to nothing about the place he wants to represent. He is a complete stranger to the people there. He does not know their dreams and hopes. He has never been a party or even just an observer of their cares and pain. For him to claim now, if he does claim, that he shares their misery would be a complete lie.

Legally, Benitez maybe beyond the reach of a just and caring law, or may even get elected on account of his family’s wealth and influence, but the fact still remains that he is bereft of the moral right to the office that he seeks.

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During his incumbency as governor, Lito Coscolluela would hike for hours to reach the remotest barrio of the province and break bread with the poorest of the poor. His aides would complain about his quick strides as they find it hard to catch up with him. They would also tell of the glow in the faces of those who have never seen a governor all their lives, who have never experienced being actual parts of a government they have heard about only in stories.

Seeking the office again, Governor Lito would have to retrace his footsteps and commune again with Negrenses who can be aptly called the “wretched of the earth.”

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The Aquino-Roxas partnership is like history repeating itself. In the elections that would have been held in 1973 had not Marcos declared Martial Law, Gerry Roxas, Mar’s father and Ninoy would have fought for the Liberal Party presidential nomination. Gerry Roxas, like Mar, was the party’s president. Ninoy Aquino, then also a senator, also craved for the nomination with hungry eyes. Ninoy was very popular then. Flamboyant and dexterous of speech, he clearly overshadowed Roxas, who, like his son Mar, does not have Ninoy’s dramatics and color. Besides, Ninoy Aquino was an unrelenting critic of Marcos while Gerry, like Mar, was reserved and scholarly which probably explains why Marcos, after declaring Martial Law, classified him as a principal victim. Of course, Marcos also ran after Gerry Roxas, but he was less intolerant of him than Ninoy. He immediately lodged Ninoy in jail while allowing Roxas to fly to the United Sates.

Gerry knew that Ninoy aimed to contest the party’s presidential nomination. But he did not show any sign of yielding to Ninoy. In fact, when appraised by associates and allies about Ninoy’s threat, Roxas simply countered: “I am not the president of the Liberal Party for nothing.”

Had Martial Law not intervened, it would have been a great political experience to see Gerry Roxas thwart Ninoy’s ambition.

This explains why when Mar Roxas yielded to Noynoy and chose to run as the latter’s vice president, his decision was met with dismay not just by his partymates who looked up to him as their leader but by the electorate who mistakenly thought he has his father’s mettle.

Of course, the circumstances surrounding Gerry Roxas determination to thwart Ninoy’s bid were different. Ninoy didn’t have a dead mother to prop him. He depended on himself, his eloquence, his courage in fighting Marcos, and his charisma which Gerry Roxas clearly lacked. His son, Noynoy, does not have even a fraction of his charisma. Ninoy was handsome while Noynoy looked like a wilted gumamela.

However, Gerry Roxas wasn’t a bit intimidated. He believed in himself. He knew that for all of Ninoy’s theatrics, he was better equipped for the presidency. So, while the presidential nomination was given to Noynoy by Mar Roxas on a silver platter, Ninoy would have fight for it and very probably lost to Gerry Roxas.

And Ninoy had all the credentials that Noynoy Aquino lacks. War correspondent at an early age, negotiating the surrender of top rebels of that time, the youngest to be elected mayor, the youngest to be elected Governor, and shortly after, the youngest to be elected Senator and a topnotcher at that, Ninoy was also a top-notch fiscalizer, which explains why Marcos was very angry with him.

Ninoy is everything that Noynoy is not. This is why I find it tragic if he gets elected president just because he is Ninoy’s son.