Left behind: the political education of Jeppie Ramada

May. 26, 2007

Bayan Muna’s Jeppie Ramada lost in his bid for a council seat. Bayan Muna itself ended up second to Kalahi, the partylist group of the Nograleses that allegedly bought votes massively. It’s a disappointing loss, Bayan Muna concedes, but one that is very instructive for the Left.

By Marilou M. Aguirre
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Late last year, Bayan Muna, the partylist group, expressed its desire to field a candidate for councilor of Davao City, in the person of the group’s vice president for Mindanao, Jeppie Ramada. Bayan Muna now thinks that it should have decided sooner.

Or, put another way, would it have helped this popular leftist group that embodies the kind of alternative politics that is anathema to traditional politicians — would it have helped had it been a little more mainstream?

Ramada, who lost in his bid for a council seat in the city’s Third District (he ranked 10th), was the youngest council candidate, a neophyte for all practical purposes. Almost two weeks after the elections, he is now convinced that he was not as prepared as the others.

“I learned that if you really want to join electoral politics, you must have at least a year of preparation,” Ramada told davaotoday.com this week. “But in my case, I started going around and introducing myself to the different barangays just this January, when the campaign period started,” he said. “So we didn’t have much time.”

Ramada said he expressed his desire to run late last year, with the full-backing of Bayan Muna. He was later endorsed by Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and was made a guest candidate under the mayor’s political party, Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod. But, clearly now, not everybody the popular mayor endorses wins.

Part of the reason for his loss, Ramada said, is the fact that Hugpong’s decision to adopt him as guest candidate created a stir in local politics, not to mention that it ruffled some feathers within Duterte’s political circle.

House Majority Floor Leader Prospero Nograles, an ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, had reportedly wanted his protege, Gregorio Pantig, to be included in the slate of Hugpong in lieu of Ramada. When he was not included, Pantig ran as an independent but lost.

Ramada Out. Jeppie Ramada during the filing of his certificate of candidacy. (davaotoday.com photo by Barry Ohaylan)

The sense among many here was that Nograles had nothing but contempt for Bayan Muna and Left, seeing how they have been key actors in the anti-Arroyo movement. The Ramada factor may have contributed to the schism between Nograles and Duterte, who, a few days before the elections, publicly castigated Nograles for not doing his part in their political alliance and for spending more time promoting Kalahi, the partylist group of the congressman’s son Karlo.

Established name, machinery

In any case, Ramada said that most of the candidates who ran for the eight seats in his district had already established their names in local politics and had built up a political machinery over the years. Still, Ramada got 46,411 votes out of the 198,861 registered voters in 82 barangays — not bad, given that it was Ramada’s first attempt.

If ever another leftist attempts to run for a local position, Ramada advises that, although the backing of a major political party is crucial, preparations must be done ahead of time.

Obviously, Ramada pointed out, being carried by a political party is not a guarantee of victory. “But it is very helpful because many would campaign for you and that it is easier to organize campaign sorties,” he said.

Ramada, however, did not hide his disappointment that some members of Hugpong deliberately junked him. “This (junking) is probably a natural phenomenon in politics and I have accepted this fact. But it is not a good practice,” he said.

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