Why vote for him in his renewed bid for the presidency this coming May 10, 2010 elections? There are several very good historical, moral and practical reasons why I support him. In this evolving post in the countdown to election day, I explain my vote.
1. Erap is a Nationalist.
In September 2009 speech, Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile took to the Senate floor in defense of the former President against the tirades of now-Senator-on-the-run-for-murder-raps Panfilo Lacson. In his characterization of Estrada as a matter of personal privilege, he recounted the struggle of the nationalists, Estrada well included, in moving to terminate the protracted RP-US Military Bases Agreement.
Enrile describes Estrada as someone who has "proved to be a true nationalist," being part of the eleven other Senators who dared vote for the abrogation of the Bases Agreement. This came despite the strong lobbying done by the pro-Bases advocates, led by no less than President Corazon C. Aquino. The pro-Bases forces tried to push for the extension of United States military presence in the country, some 92 years after the Americans colonized the land and over four decades after the Bases Agreement was first forged. Estrada and the other anti-Bases senators were denounced as the "The Dirty Dozen" by those who had no sense to assert Filipino sovereignty; on the other, the progressive nationalist groups hailed them as "The Magnificent Twelve."
On April 19, 1988 during his 51st birthday, then-Sen. Joseph Estrada delivered his privilege speech for the abrogation of the U.S. Bases Agreement. Erap's words can still remembered today for its stirring and clarion call for the nation to muster its will and courage to assert its independence and take on the path of self-sufficiency:
Let this be our finest hour as we face the judgment of history. We have become so dependent on the Americans that we have not learned to be self-sufficient. Our country has been seen as a nation of beggars, a nation of prostitutes, a nation of cheaters, a nation of domestic helpers. And if we do not assert ourselves today, we will also be known as a nation of cowards. This I cannot accept and this, we must not accept.
The role of the 12 Anti-Bases senators in heeding the sovereign call for real Philippine independence free of the military presence of its former colonizers cannot be discounted. Prior to his vote, Erap even did his laudable part in the propaganda campaign to bring the issue to a people long bathed in colonial conditioning with the movie he produced himself, "Sa Kuko ng Agila. " Co-starring former Sen. Nikki Coseteng, the movie took potshots at the American bases in anticipation of its scheduled expiration in 1991.
Estrada obviously did not do the abrogation of the neo-colonial treaty himself. Even prior to the "Magnificent 12" senators, the likes of Claro M. Recto came before in the decades-long campaign against what was then the greatest symbol and tool of continuing neo-imperialist US influence in the country. However, Estrada's use of popular cinema--with his craft, charm and connection with the masses--undoubtedly proved an effectively tool that helped crystallize the cause of Anti-Bases movement in the masses' mind and ready the Filipinos for the historic change the true patriots and nationalists have long been aspiring and working for.
(To be continued....)