by Manuel L. Quezon III
SOBER yet gracious was Raul Roco’s concession of defeat. He is the first presidential candidate to face up to reality and react with dignity. It is the latter characteristic that is remarkable for its rarity. Often, the admission of defeat in our country is marked with bitterness and recrimination. Or, it is marred by sycophancy. In contrast, Roco was gracious without being craven, firm without being insulting, democratic without resorting to disappointing his partisans. He remained true to himself, which is the best that can be said of any public man.
Roco, in recognizing his country denied him a mandate for the presidency, was merely recognizing reality –without, as he pointed out, conceding that proper investigations may reveal electoral corruption. In the face of any cheating, revealing it, and punishing it, becomes a national and no longer partisan issue. After all, cheating of any kind, by any camp, is an attempt to thwart the popular will, and a subversion of the democratic process in which everyone has a stake.
In Roco’s own words, “for now, a sober effort to get the country going should be the agenda of every Filipino.” This is particularly the case when it comes to the three candidates whose defeat can already seen to be certain. The current issues concerning the counting of votes cannot fundamentally affect the reality of Roco’s, Lacson’s, and Villanueva’s campaigns. Attempts to document cheating will only rectify wrongs but not stave off defeat. This Roco knows and this is what the other three definite losers must realize. And realize soon.
Panfilo Lacson, for one, ahead even of Roco, spoke in statesmanlike terms after the voting. In recent days he has backpedaled somewhat, perhaps out of pique over his statesmanship being considered selling out. Bro. Eddie Villanueva, on the other hand, began with incendiary rhetoric but has begun to be more subdued. He has gone as far to recognize he has not won –without conceding to anyone else as the winner. Both candidates, who proclaim idealism as the preeminent virtue of their campaigns, should now look to the example of Raul Roco.
We neither promote nor condone, the temporary abandonment of dignity or legal right, in the name of political unity. One does not betray one’s self, or one’s followers, by spouting false praise. Behavior of this sort only fosters the suspicion it is hypocrisy in aid of future gain. But we remind these candidates that the verdict is clear, whatever the larger verdict may be; and that they must now exchange their responsibility to their partisans and reassume responsibility to the whole.
The country must know these men can face defeat, and snatch from it not just self respect, or dignity, but a continued lease on life for themselves. A new lease on life as responsible, nation building leaders of men and women. The country must know they are in it, not just for the present fight, but for the long haul. This requires investing their prestige and authority in the system, and not just in their ambitions, now clearly frustrated.
In truth, in congratulating President Arroyo ahead of a formal proclamation by Congress, Raul Roco went further than he had to. His other rivals needn’t go as far. They need only to say what everyone, including their supporters know. The fight was good, but victory has gone to some other.