AT THE END of my work week, I usually drop by Goro’s in Batac (City, finally!), all by my lonesome, and enjoy a bottle of beer or two before going home to Laoag. And that’s what I exactly did in the afternoon of December 29, the last working day of 2009.
I was halfway through my first bottle of SanMig Light when I received a phone call from fellow columnist Steve Barreiro. He asked me if I have time to meet someone I would surely find interesting. “He is a teacher like you,” Steve said, “and he is a senatoriable.”
Good old Steve was referring to Liberal Party’s Neric Acosta who was in town to grace the Damili festival of San Nicolas from where the latter traces his paternal roots. Of course, I know the guy. “Yes, I am coming,” I told Steve, although it was a half-hearted yes because I did not want to abruptly end my weekly date with myself.
Good thing Steve sent me a message right after the phone call: we can meet him at 10:00 at Rosewell Hotel tomorrow if you want.
And so in the morning of December 30, Rizal Day, I prepared to meet the guy, but not without doing some research. My stock knowledge about Acosta is only that he is a former Bukidnon representative and that he is a young member of the opposition.
What I did not know was how impressive his educational credentials are. He earned his PhD in Political Science from the University of Hawaii as a scholar, received an MA in Public Affairs from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and a BA in Political Science from UP. He also took special leadership programs at the Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University, and, in 2004, was named the first Filipino World Fellow of Yale University.
He is now Associate Professor at the Asian Institute of Management and the Ateneo de Manila University.
In his three terms as congressman, 1998-2007, he principally authored landmark laws on the environment, including, among others, the Clean Air Act, the Clean water Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. Unlike most congressmen who are good only at 1) bench warming, 2) bootlicking with the bemoled queen, 3) and scrambling with the cholesterol-laden pork barrel fund, like one Ilocos politician the people have suffered from for over four decades, Acosta is one sensible legislator.
The 43 year old senatorial aspirant sat down with me and gave me generous time even as Liberal Party supporters from the business sector were waiting to meet him. We talked about a wide range of issues—from the environment and reproductive health to Noynoy stuff.
I was definitely impressed when he mentioned that his ardent support for the Reproductive Health Bill has caught the ire of at least two bishops in his place, and that this has even resulted to the burning of his effigies in demonstrations. You already know, dear karikna, how much I abhor public officials who cannot stand pressure from the church.
I shared with Acosta the results of the presidential survey conducted in our university recently, which shows Villar enjoying overwhelming support, Teodoro gaining ground, and Noynoy losing steam.
I hinted that Noynoy’s lackluster performance in debates may have turned-off the thinking class. His stances on issues are oftentimes compromised, and his statements are painfully canned. “You are a very brilliant man, you should work on Noynoy to sound sharper,” I told him. Truth to tell, the Kris Aquino-Boy Abunda packaging of Noynoy is not enough to sustain his lead until May 2010. Ninoy-Cory’s only son should not frustrate intelligent voters as he does now.
Acosta underscored that three important M’s are needed to win an election—Message, Machinery, and Money. Showing traces of youth’s idealism, Acosta said that while the Liberal Party may not match the machinery and money of traditional politicians, LP delivers the message loud and clear: time has come for clean, honest, and sincere governance.
I must concede that for most Filipinos, brilliance and vision are not as important as honesty and sincerity. “Hindi baleng bobo basta hindi magnanakaw,” the common tao say.
I concede, too, that, in this material world, rarely do we get everything we want. Still, I look forward to having a president who is honest, sincere, brilliant, and forward-looking, all at the same time. I will not vote for someone simply because of his parents’ legacies, and even if he has a receding (or receded?) hairline like mine.
I sincerely hope Teacher Neric fares better in the next surveys. Opinion polls show that if the elections were held today, brainless Ramon Revilla and Lito Lapid will again capture senate seats. Dios ko po.
Acosta, meanwhile, currently ranks twenty-something. He has a lot of work to do to win votes, both of the thinking class and the bakya crowd.
Anyway, he has already won mine.