By: Modesto Sa-onoy
LAST MONDAY, Ray Carmona, a radio broadcaster launched his candidacy for the Sanggunian of Bacolod. He invited his fellow media practitioners but I was unable to attend due to a conflict of schedule. He and Atty. Joel Dojillo of the Yellow Army called me and I would have attended but for this conflict.
I have no idea yet of his underlying intentions but whatever these are, has only one purpose as all candidates would say – they want to serve the people in this capacity. His fellow broadcaster, Jun Julita had been plugging for him for several weeks now so this candidacy must be a serious one and I hope all his bases have been covered. He even has his jingles on air which banks heavily on his radio experiences through many years. He will be the Yellow Army candidate.
Media people had been in politics and many had served remarkably. In the Negros Press Club, we had three past presidents that made it to Congress – Carlos, Hilado, Inocencio Ferrer and Monico Puentevella. Incumbent Bacolod Mayor Bing Leonardia is a past president while several councilors were with the NPC – Atty. Rex Remitio, Bert Drilon, Joe Gabuat, Jocelle Batapa-Sigue and Pete Alit.
Their exposure in media gives them an advantage of name-recall like Greg Gasataya and Alex Paglumotan who were hard-hitting radio commentators and anchors and had a large following among the masa. Some media people also tried but failed to get elected.
Anyway, let us wait for Ray to come out with whatever he has to be able to follow the footsteps of other media people who succeeded in their quest.
While media people have the edge, nevertheless the voters have already formed an opinion about the media practitioner. Their disadvantage is that we know them for years, their frame of mind, their set of values and public behavior. Launching a political career is an easy one but getting elected is another.
Sometimes we think we know them well but some people behave differently in new situations. I was listening to Luis “Petloy” Mirasol Jr. complain about the inaction of President Benigno Aquino regarding the plight of the sugar industry. Petloy who knows sugar like a palmist knows every line in your palm expressed his frustration at the President’s inaction, chiding the “daang matuwid” as a failure.
People were mesmerized by the Aquino’s mother and the wave of sympathy on her death and so voters overlooked the son’s lackluster performance as a congressman and as a senator. In fact, if one looks closely at his record in Congress, there is nothing significant, if any at all.
But Petloy and million others believed in him and they worked and spent money to bring him to Malacañang. Their frustration is deeper while those who knew him well enough not to vote for him can only say “we told you so.”
Judging candidates is a difficult one and many of us had been frustrated at our choice. Many times we had been disappointed. Selection always carries with it risks and because we had only a few moments to study them at close range we really do not know them.
On the other hand, our local candidates are easier to judge, particularly the members of media. Ray Carmona has been long in the broadcast media. To a large extent we know him enough to judge whether he would make a good member of the council or he would be a frustration.
The staying power of Greg Gasataya and Alex Paglumotan is due to the people knowing them well enough for years and thus we know what to expect from them.
One problem with media people engaged in politics, not as commentators but as politicians, is that they have a difficult time drawing the boundaries of independent comment and plugging for their personal interest.
The complaint of Benigno Aquino against former Vice President Noli de Castro is the latter’s snide remarks. De Castro crossed the line between being a news reader and a commentator. His viewers and listeners are thus unable to delineate his role. Aquino has the right to complain because De Castro was a politician and thus his commentary is loaded.
If he was not a political figure as the other ABS-CBN newscasters who also make snide remarks, De Castro’s quips would not have mattered because he was merely reading from the idiot box.
Being “half a media”, that is, a commentator and yet a politician is a not a good mix. It erodes credibility and tarnishes excellent points as a political pitch.
There is wisdom in preventing candidates from active media work once they have filed their certificates of candidacy because it is unfair for others less advantaged, but more so it prevents listeners from making an intelligent assessment of the candidate.