Perlas banks on ‘new politics’ promise to win May polls

Perlas banks on ‘new politics’ promise to win May polls

Little known presidential aspirant Nicanor Perlas hopes to attract attention and win votes by putting on the table his promise of a government guided by the principles of what he calls new politics.

There is really nothing new to the principles behind the movement but Perlas, aware that he has a lot of catching up to do with his more popular rivals, tries to practice what he believes — right now.

One of the quieter presidential candidates in the national elections in May, Perlas prefers word-of-mouth political campaigns over more expensive advertising on TV, radio and print.

“We de-emphasize financial support. People are forced to be creative with limited resources,” he told a small group of journalists who covered the launch of his Coalition for New Politics in Quezon City last Friday.

Perlas, who is running under the Partido ng Marangal na Sambayanan (Pangmasa) party, cited the need to do away with traditional politicians known for their shallow and inherited popularity; political patronage, turncoatism and dynasties; and corruption.

In their place, he proposes a living vision and platform; society-centered governance; qualified and dynamic leadership; a strong volunteer force; and principled access to resources.

Pangmasa launched the new politics coalition together with the Partido Kalikasan (Nature Party) and Anti-Trapo Movement of the Philippines through a memorandum of agreement in which the members committed to promote the ideals of the coalition in the long term.

Partido Kalikasan spokesman Jules Penales claimed that unlike trapos — the derogatory acronym for traditional politicians that also means “rag” in the vernacular — their members would likely stick even after the elections.

“At the minimum, this partnership that we’re entering with Pangmasa and the [Anti-Trapo] movement [will last for] at least six years. Most [movements] cannot even commit for a year,” Penales pointed out.

Founded in 2003, Partido Kalikasan, which is operating in 15 “bioregions” nationwide, is not accredited by the Commission on Elections. The party itself had not applied for accreditation given what it claims as its lack of faith in the system.

Perlas said his volunteers, whose exact number is difficult to ascertain, sometimes surprise him. “We just find out people are actually working for already long periods of time never telling us anything. I think we have 7,000 volunteers,” he said, adding that the number was growing.

“We have no idea at this point but we know it’s substantial because of the results that are coming in,” he added. He cited as an example the pledge of support from a leader of a group in Mati City, Davao del Norte with up to two million members.

The secretary-general of a spiritual movement with nine million members has also signed a memo of agreement with Perlas’s party — a standard procedure for those who want to support him. The detailed deal ensures that they understand what they are committing to, Perlas said in Filipino.

An indigenous group from Mindanao with half-a-million members also announced its support for him when he was in Cebu. The group, Perlas said, had pledged to donate to his campaign half of the profits from their mango production.

“So aside from their volunteers all over the country, they have also mobilized their products,” Perlas said, adding that before the encounter, he didn’t realize that a mature mango tree could yield P400,000 in gross profits.

But are Filipinos ready for Pangmasa’s so-called new politics? “There is strong demand for new politics,” Perlas said, adding that Filipinos have started to realize that selling their votes is partly to blame for their poverty.

The presidential aspirant is banking on people’s belief in his promise of new politics to get him out of obscurity and catapult him to the country’s top post. — Carmela G. Lapeña/NPA, GMANews.TV

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.