Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto is the new poster child for good governance. Like it or not, the young mayor has garnered an organic following rooting for him to continue doing what he was elected for—being a public servant. It’s tragic to see how the idea that a politician would actually keep their oath to their constituents is such a novelty. How did we allow ourselves to become so disheartened by state of local and national political affairs? Although the blame isn’t solely for us to shoulder, perhaps it’s time for us to reflect on how we choose to disengage with what we deem as a disingenuous democratic republic.
It is during times of crises that contradictions are heightened or brought into the spotlight. Under the enhanced community quarantine, Filipinos have become increasingly engaged in political discourse—as we should, since the government’s crisis response is an issue of life or death for many. From the increase in the number of online protests to identifying the poltical winners and losers in the fight against COVID-19, the public—even celebrities—have discerned that playing safe is equivalent to playing into the hands of those who wish to be held unaccountable and an administration that demands blind subservience.
However, there’s a familiar spectre rearing its ugly head as the general public is seeing an increase or change in political consciousness—idol worship for politicians. We’ve all heard of the saying, “Too much of anything is bad for you.” It holds true in the case of adoring even admittedly committed elected officials like Sotto. There’s nothing wrong with supporting his pro-people efforts but becoming a stan is a different ballgame.
If you’ve been on Twitter these past few weeks, you’ve probably seen fancams of the young mayor on your feed. Since fancams were popularized by the K-pop fans, someone was bound to make a fansign and photocard. I wondered whether this Vicomania was just for show. People tend to exaggerate for clout these days. However, it seems like it’s about to stay and there’s a genuine fervor for the man if the #Vivico and #ProtectVico hashtag trends are anything to go by.
Forgive me for being a party pooper but I suggest we nip this in the bud. I’m all for having more pro-active politicians who are inclined to listen to voters even after they’re already in power. But I think we should be wary of fanaticism because we have an arduous history of political opportunism. To be clear, I’m not saying that Mayor Vico is exploiting his current popularity for his self-interest. But prevention is better than cure—let’s not allow mass-led victories to be attributed to or claimed by an individual. We have no debt to these type of people.
The late presidents Emilio Aguinaldo and Cory Aquino became symbols of revolutions and we paid for it. I don’t deny that they played a role in helping our country regain a sense of freedom but they also had a hand in limiting the freedom to which they owe their prominence. It’s hardly a secret anymore that Aguinaldo capitualted to Spain after ordering the death of Katipunan founder Andres Bonifacio. It was during Aquino’s time in office when the Mendiola massacre happened—killing farmers from Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita who were asking for a dialogue with the then-president. Revolutions do not have mothers and fathers. Politics shouldn’t be reduced to a popularity contest—something that we have yet to learn. After all, the signing of an anti-political dynasty bill remains elusive.
As many former Duterte Diehard Supporters are now realizing, it’s a civic duty to remain critical of the government. Although “PURO KAYO REKLAMO” is trending on Twitter, we are seeing the fruits of our dissent. We don’t need a savior, together we’ll take what is rightfully ours.