Panlilio’s Real Fight Has Just Begun

Ricky Gelido

The most dramatic part of 2004 elections could be the entry of the Catholic priest Ed Panlilio for the Pampanga gubernatorial derby. When Panlilio launched his candidacy, he had no machinery. When he broached the idea of entering politics, many doubted his victory.

Among Ed, as his supporters call him, won by a slight margin of about 1,147 votes from his closest opponent, Lilia Pineda. Magalang town delivered the final blow to his opponents Mark Lapid, son of actor Lito Lapid, and Pineda. It was reported that Panlilio was trailing behind Pineda by 552 votes before the Magalang votes were canvassed. Mayoralty bet Ricardo Erese helped Panlilio’s candidacy in Magalang.

An issue of the Phillipine Daily Tribune editorial describes Panlilio’s victory as “the most stinging slap” to President Gloria Arroyo. It could be because Pampanga is GMA’s bailiwick. She has former Mark Lapid, son of her trusted ally, Sen. Lito Lapid. She also has Board Member Lilia Pineda, wife of the alleged jueteng czar, Bong Pineda. She also has his son Rep. Mikey Arroyo. However, in GMA’s own province where she has two gubernatoriables from her camp, an independent candidate won.

Between Scylla and Charybdis, represented by the alleged jueteng queen and the alleged quarrying king or prince, Panlilio launched the “Operation Courage” encouraging the voters to choose the good over the evil. He became victorious.

But his real fight has just begun.

Panlilio could be regarded as a sheep on the Augean stable, a giant killer on the loose or a dove in the snake pit of politics. The Panlilio victory may have been called by many as a miracle in Pampanga. To some, it could also be a new brand of politics or a promise of a new tomorrow. But the realization of Gov. Ed’s hopes for Pampanga must be seen.

Now that the election is over, a daunting challenge is before Gov. Ed. Fighting corruption could be a quixotic ideal in a polluted system but he has already proven his worth when he fought and defeated the two “windmills” of Pampanga. Eradicating jueteng in a place where it is deeply-rooted seems to be an insurmountable assignment but he already won despite the alleged vote buying, vote padding and shaving. The next stage will be no easy mission for Panlilio.

If the people delivered Gov. Ed the winning votes during the elections, they should support him until the end of his term. Without public support, Governor Ed could not be victorious against jueteng, corruption and other important crusades of the province. The “EDsa Power in Pampanga” that put Panlilio in the provincial government should be equaled as he will take a bigger and more crucial fight against the existing system in his province.

Let all the concerned Filipino people watch out. Not that they don’t trust Gov. Ed. But they have just to guard him that he will not be engulfed by the raging waves of the system. The people should help him be safe and be principled enough in the pit of serpents of jueteng operators and corrupt people.

Gov. Ed’s entry to politics could be a drama but the saga continues until he leaves his office. With the help of the electorate who gave him the mandate to be the governor, he must deliver to his “cabalens” the best things possible. There are still many things to be done. His real fight has just begun.

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