Monthly Archives: February 2016

On The 2016 Elections (last of a series)

 

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The 2016 Elections presents another opportunity for change. Not that His Excellency President Benigno Aquino III did not do well as a President. It’s just that an election presents a chance for a fresh start, an opportunity to rectify mistakes outgoing leaders may have committed during their incumbency and continue the programs they have implemented which are proven to be beneficial.

Under Noynoy’s watch the Philippines experienced a steady economic growth from 2010 to 2015. The battle the Aquino administration waged against graft and corruption is by all means serious. It resulted to the hospital arrest of a former President, netted the impeachment of a Chief Justice, forced the resignation of an Ombudsman in order to avoid impeachment, and led to the conviction and indictment of high-profile individuals, including three (3) incumbent senators. However, what may go down in history as the best legacy of the current administration are not economic gains nor the weeding out  of corrupt government officials but a bold educational reform… the introduction of the K to 12 program.

The Aquino-led government also made miscalculations and had misgivings. It is not  perfect, neither were past administrations. History will judge the present administration’s performance, it will decide whether or not Noynoy can be ranked among the best presidents Philippines had.

If the Liberal party (where Noynoy belongs) could have their way they would want their anointed candidate (Roxas) to win the presidential derby so he could continue the programs already in place. But Roxas’ fate, and those of the other candidates, are in the hands of the Filipino electorate.

No matter how great the accomplishments of Noynoy as president it is not a guarantee that the candidate he endorsed (Roxas) would be chosen as his successor. As a matter of fact, Roxas has not topped any of the election surveys held in the past months making many believe that it would be difficult for him to win. If the Filipino voters choose to hold  Noynoy accountable for his booboos as president and turn a blind eye on his accomplishments it now becomes a question of  whether Noynoy’s endorsement is a bane or a boon to Roxas’ candidacy.

The Filipinos are hard to please. They tend to remember the few mistakes people in position commit and forget about their many accomplishments. The most difficult part is that Filipinos demand too much from their leaders but they fail to perform their civic responsibilities.

So, it’s really time to change…time for Filipinos to change the way they choose leaders and time for them to change their perspectives about nation building. The 2016 elections present an opportune time to do exactly that.

One of the tragic flaws in the Filipino character is pinning their hopes on a leader to make their nation a great one. After all these years they haven’t realized that nation building is a shared responsibility between leaders and the citizenry and that, in reality, the citizens carry the bigger chunk of the burden because they are the ones choosing the leaders who will hold the reins of government.

The Filipinos refuse to be accountable. So, for the forthcoming presidential elections they have the same mind set. They still subscribe to the notion that the president they will elect must singlehandedly solve all the nation’s woes. The Filipinos blindly cling to the belief that the head of the executive branch of the government is a supernatural being who can weave magic and in a snap of a finger eradicate all of their problems and provide everything they need.

Whoever becomes the next president will be considered the anointed messiah who must work the miracles the Filipinos are expecting…no traffic, no power outages, more jobs, higher salaries, lesser taxes, subsidized education, more school buildings, and what-have-you. The elected president must deliver. He/she must curb criminality, end insurgency and eradicate poverty in the shortest possible time.

Who among the presidential hopefuls can do all the aforementioned? No one! Nobody from among Binay, Duterte, Poe, Roxas and Santiago can perform the miracles the Filipinos are expecting…unless they do their part…unless they contribute what they ought to.

A leader may be brilliant but if the citizens will not do their share in nation building then peace and prosperity will remain just a dream. It’s not demanding too much form the citizens. They only need to perform their civic responsibilities. That’s all they need to do.

 

On the 2016 Elections (5th of a series)

dynasty

In the Philippines, politics have become a monopoly of the rich and powerful.

Scrutinize the records of the executive and legislative branches of the government, look for the names of those who got elected as President, Vice-President, Senators and Congressmen/Assemblymen and those appointed in the Cabinet since time immemorial and you’ll find out that majority of them come from “de buena familia. ” Most of them come from the most powerful clans of the Philippines, the rich mestizos… scions of the “hacienderos” and their loyal “assistentes” during the Spanish period. Even politics in the provinces, towns and cities are lorded over by these families.

The said families also own the country’s conglomerates. In their hands is a deadly concoction of power and money.

It is not difficult to figure out why most of the country’s powerful politicians come from the richest families of the land…they have interests to protect and agenda to permeate. Result: political dynasties.

The following is an article this writer penned on political dynasties in the Philippines.

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Consider this… A politician, let’s say a mayor, can no longer seek reelection due to term limits. So, his wife will run for the position he previously held. Then that politician will run for another post…as governor perhaps. Assuming both the politician and his wife win and luckily get re-elected until they reach their term limits, would it be the end? Would their thirst for power (and the corresponding  benefits) be finally satiated?

NO!!! The couple will ask their son or daughter (or a grandson…or a granddaughter…or an in-law) to run for the positions they are about to vacate. What about the mother? She will seek the position vacated by the husband-politician. She will run as governor. What about the husband? He will perhaps run either as congressman or even senator. In case all family members win then for years that the power will run circles within the same family. The son (or daughter) is a mayor, the mother a governor and the father either as congressman or senator. When term limits are reached then they will just run for the position that a family member would vacate. Some siblings, and even in-laws, in the family are also occupying minor positions in the geographical units where they reside.

There are no political dynasties in the Philippines!!!

It is only by coincidence that the country has a president who happens to be a son of a former president and a senator and who has relatives in both the Senate and House of Representative. It is also just by coincidence, not by design, that Philippines has a vice-president whose daughters are a senator and a representative and whose son is a city mayor?  Call it also a coincidence that  all over the archipelago we have senators and congressmen whose wives (or mistresses), husbands, siblings, sons, daughters and in-laws are either senators and congressmen like themselves or governors or mayors or what-have-you?

Then of course they will tell the people that they do not belong to a political dynasty…but a family of public servants.

The same family names…same genes…in the seats of power in the country for decades now. RESULT? Same dismal economic and socio-political performance for the country.

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Not that there are no Filipinos aside from them who capable of serving the country as leaders, it’s  just that these members of the elite have so much money and manpower and a powerful machinery that whoever lock horns with them during elections would almost certainly be biting the dust. The other thing is, the Filipino people keep writing their names in the ballots.

On the 2016 Elections (4th of a series)

presidentiables

Down to 5 presidential aspirants (in alphabetical order, not the writer’s order of preference)… Binay, Duterte, Poe, Roxas, and Santiago. With only three months left before the elections, the presidential race is beginning to heat up. Things will get more exciting once the official campaign period kicks off.

The bets for the presidency  have already bared their platforms of government for the scrutiny of the voting populace. They, even if the official campaign period is yet to begin,  have been posting and airing their respective campaign ads in print, broadcast and social media with each of them attempting to convince the electorate that he/she is the best and most qualified to lead the country in the next six years. They are taking turns in courting the voters promising, as usual, the moon and the stars should they get elected. They and their legion of supporters have been making rounds in the provinces holding meetings and performing activities intended to increase their chances of winning. Their respective “dirty tricks departments” have been doing their best as well to open their opponents’ cans of worms to tarnish their reputation and make them less competitive.

Analyses and results of pre-election surveys show how fickle-minded are the voters. Different candidates ended at the top of voting preference at different period of times.

Had elections been held a couple of years ago Binay would have won. However, his popularity bubble burst when pricked by accusations of corruption hurled against him and his family. His place as the most preferred presidential aspirant was taken over by Poe whose ascension to the Senate was undoubtedly aided by the popularity of her father, the late Fernando Poe, Jr., the action king of Philippine cinema. It is also the FPJ factor that may catapult her to the most powerful seat in Malacañang.

But the voter preference meter for the 2016 elections suffered another fluctuation when Poe was said to have actually renounced her Filipino citizenship some years back to become an American thereby making her technically not qualified to seek the highest position in the land. When COMELEC barred Poe from running for President for the aforementioned, down went her numbers in the surveys.

It was at that juncture that Duterte’s popularity started to gain ground. The Filipinos who are tired of decades of cronyism, patronage and political compromises saw a glimmer of hope in the feisty mayor of Davao city. Duterte saw his steady climb in the surveys which made him finally decide to throw his hat into the presidential derby after dillydallying for sometime.

However, he committed a serious blunder that may have permanently damaged his quest for the presidency. In one of his trademark verbal outbursts, he was construed to have cursed Pope Francis. It did not sit well with the Filipinos, most of whom are devout Catholics. As to whether Duterte’s candidacy recovers from that miscue or not will be made known after the 2016 presidential joust.

The other candidate known for feistiness is Santiago. She continues to occupy the bottom of election surveys and it is believed that it may take a miracle for her to say that “the third time’s the charm.” Santiago is seeking the presidency for the third time.

Quietly lurking on the shadows of the leaders in the surveys is the administration’s bet, Roxas. He has yet to occupy the top of the voters’ preference but make no mistake about it, he is seriously contending for the presidency. He has no less than the backing of the government ran by the members of the political party where he belongs and the endorsement of the incumbent President. However, such endorsement from a President who has been making some unpopular decisions as of late may be seen more as a kiss of death rather than a shot in Roxas’ arms. But who knows if the Cory factor still weaves a political magic. The yellow army of Cory Aquino may have not forgotten yet how he unselfishly gave way to Noynoy during the 2010 elections.

Santiago and Poe know too well how is it to run against an administration bet. The former  lost to Fidel V. Ramos in the 1992 elections and the latter’s father, FPJ, failed in his presidential bid against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the 2004 polls. Both Santiago and FPJ led the pre-election surveys. Even early election results then showed them leading comfortably. But they both ended up runner-ups to the eventual winners. They cried foul to high heavens but to no avail.

The most recent (January-2016) Pulse Asia survey shows Poe on top again. This came on the heels of the Supreme Court’s decision declaring that the COMELEC can’t  cancel Poe’s candidacy (yet). Surpisingly,  Roxas, statistically tied Binay, and Duterte at 2nd place. While Roxas was up 3 points from his 17 percent rating in December, 2015, Binay and Duterte suffered a decline of 10 points and 3 points, respectively. Poe’s ratings jumped by nine points from 21 percent raising speculations (and fears) that she might win come May 9.

So, will there finally be a “Poe” in Malacañang in 2016? Not if the other contenders can help it. Binay and Duterte, however, must seriously do some damage control for the issues bedevilling them at the moment. Roxas on his part is uncertain whether being identified with an administration whose gains in the economic front  were stained by the blood of 44 members of the Special Action Force who got killed in the Mamasapano encounter and cursed by the country’s senior citizens whose hopes of getting an additional P2,000 monthly pension was vetoed by the very President who endorsed his candidacy. Santiago, on the other hand,  need to dish out a magical performance out of her bag of political theatrics in order to convince the voters that she’s got what it takes to be a President of the Philippine Republic.

As it is, those leading in the pre-election surveys may have the edge yet nobody knows for sure who will win. But one thing certain and inevitable, just three more months and Noynoy will relinquish the presidency to whoever wins the 2016 Elections.

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