Ben Con­tr­eras and his ad­vo­cacy

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - BY: CHURCHILL AGUILAR [email protected]

(7th stop)

This se­ries is in­tended to pro­vide our lo­cal can­di­dates a plat­form to com­mu­ni­cate their mes­sage to the elec­torate. I in­vite our read­ers to in­ter­act with us in a healthy dis­cus­sion of the is­sues raised in each of my in­stall­ments. Please visit our Face­book page @Sun­starCDO. Again, this is not an en­dorse­ment, just a ground for us to know our can­di­dates a lit­tle bet­ter as they lay down their plat­forms for the 2019 midterm elec­tions.

The vet­eran lo­cal colum­nist Ben Con­tr­eras joins the 2019 Oro may­oral race. Those ex­posed to lo­cal elec­tions would hastily say run­ning as in­de­pen­dent gives him slim chance of grab­bing the high­est lo­cal post con­sid­er­ing he is up against ti­tans in pol­i­tics. And rightly so, more than win­ning, Ben’s can­di­dacy as he shares with me is all about his ad­vo­cacy for hon­est gover­nance. “Wala koi ilusyon mu­daug (I don’t have il­lu­sions of win­ning), I am just an or­di­nary busi­ness­man,” says Con­tr­eras who sells hard­ware items for 30 years now. “As a writer, I just want to vent my sen­ti­ments,” he added.

Ben Con­tr­eras is known for his hard hit­ting col­umn in a lo­cal pa­per spar­ing no one as he raises is­sues that be­set our lo­cal­ity.” The only time ma­had­lok ko is when I don’t say the truth. At my age, di nako ma­had­lok,” says the vet­eran writer.

He had planned to run for mayor in the 2016 elec­tions but changed his mind af­ter know­ing Ru­fus Ro­driguez was run­ning as well. This time he is push­ing through.

His ad­vo­cacy is an­chored on the idea that if you will not in­vest money dur­ing elec­tions, you will have no rea­son to be cor­rupt when you win. That is why he said he will not be spend­ing money for his can­di­dacy, all the sup­port he has re­ceived were all com­ing from vol­un­teers. In­stead of politi­cians, he calls for the peo­ple to in­vest in hon­est gover­nance. And he says he is gain­ing mo­men­tum as his num­ber of sup­port­ers con­tinue to grow.

In­ter­est­ingly, Ben says he has got no plat­forms at all, for they just end up to be empty prom­ises to at­tract votes but can’t be de­liv­ered. He how­ever ex­pressed as­sur­ance that he knows what the real prob­lems of the city re­ally are since he was born and raised here.

The real root of cor­rup­tion he says is ex­pen­sive elec­tions. And if peo­ple will see that and would not sell their votes then peo­ple are re­ally se­ri­ous about change. His plan for the cam­paign is to con­duct se­ries of vot­ers ed­u­ca­tion. And he is pos­i­tive that the Ka­gay-anons will re­spond to it. The 2019 elec­tions will be his barom­e­ter he says

When asked about his op­po­nents, he ze­roed in to hop­ing that the in­cum­bent mayor be re­placed who­ever among the rest of the can­di­dates gets the post bas­ing again on al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion.

As an in­de­pen­dent and a neo­phyte in the may­oral race, Ben Con­tr­eras prob­a­bly do not have as much reach to get his tar­get at­ten­tion as his op­po­nents have, but he has hit bulls eye on one thing there; the real prob­lem in our gov­ern­ment is the ex­pen­sive elec­tions. Even with the best in­ten­tions from the bright­est can­di­date, no one will ever run just to give out mil­lions and not get a break even on his or her in­vest­ments.

With such a de­fec­tive sys­tem right from the start, it would look like our only choice is to choose the lesser evil from among them, un­til we are all col­lec­tively ready not to sell our votes.

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