'When I decided to offer myself [as presidential candidate], I felt at peace.I'm doing this not for me, not for myself. I felt God wanted me to go on a higher service,' he said, adding:
I have said time and again I have no political agenda. There have been groups telling me to run for the presidency and thought I would pray again. After a period of discernment, I said, 'Yeah, God is calling me to run for Presidency."
♦ Fr. Ed Panlilio, quoted in Dona Pazzibugan, "Politics Over Priesthood – Gov. Panlilio: It is God calling I run for president," Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22 July 2009: A1,A6.
So it's final. Pampanga Governor Eddie Tongol Panlilio is now fully drawn into the whirlpool of politics. A neophyte politician, this likeable Catholic priest will be up against seasoned presidential timbers. Although I don't know Among Ed personally, I like him a lot for his sincere desire to serve the country and courage in the face of opposition. Beating the moneyed Lilia and the showbizzy Mark Lapid is no small feat. Going against the wishes of the Catholic biggies is no shrugging matter. Envisioning a glorious future for the Republic is no laughing matter.
But being up to the challenge of the Philippine Presidency is another matter. I believe as many other Filipinos do that there is a fat chance Father Ed would make it to the top five highest pointers in this soul-wracking game. He doesn't have a gigantic and well-oiled political machinery, no popular base that stretches from end to end of our archipelago, no extensive training or experience in governance, and does not know how to do cha-cha ala Gloria nor to do a "Hello Garci."
Unless a miracle far larger than his Pampanga governorship explodes in his favor come May 2010 -- a deus ex machina for a beleaguered epic hero. Who knows he will do miracles akin to the feats of TV wonder boy Santino who is malakas kay Bro. (Btw, in my hometown many Kalingas are now flocking to the house of a man they call Santino, a supposed healer of all sorts of illnesses.) Just imagine a Santino in Malacanang –– could turn the Palace–by–the–Pasig into a hospital for hurting souls/soles.
If God told him to run, then maybe he'll get to the finish line first in this upcoming electoral race. If he or God is mistaken, he'll end up hurting his soles trying to outrun a horde of "Mayor Enriques" who could always modify both rules and racetracks and easily thwart God's Electoral Plan. And we have a precedent to prove this. We just have to remember that the charismatic Jesus Is Lord preacher Ed Villanueva, despite his claim that God told him to run too, fared miserably in the last presidential election. Apparently, cheats got around God's Will that time. And there's a good chance they can do it again and again in the decades to come.