CHOOSING THE next president of the Philippines that will cut the new path to a better future should not be a matter of intelligence quotient or an exercise similar to fixing a bad tooth. In fact, what seems badly needed is to simplify the issue, as simple as borrowing a line from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
Obviously, the Evil Queen wasn’t.
To begin with, forget those sweet and skyscraping promises. They’re par for the course. Every politician makes them anyway , with minor tweaks every election season to make them sound or look original. Just scrutinize every presidential candidate for 2022 on their professional or political record. Watch out for the Evil Queen, or King.
Character should be first on the line. Looks can be deceiving. Manners are not morals.
Come to think of, there is only one with no excess political baggage among the six presidentiables. It’s Vice President Leni Robredo, hands down; all the rest have some record in the past, even the present, that the nation should worry about in the future. There’s so much at stake in the forthcoming presidential race next year. A cautionary tale must influence and impact every voter’s choice.
In that sense, Robredo is the perfect choice, particulary when you talk of moral ascendancy. She’s a credible and competent leader who can start government, on a fresh, clean slate. Yet, up until this time, there is a certain cloudiness over her candidacy that is obstructing her real worth as the president the country needs. People should start thinking about her candidacy on the basis of what she’s NOT.
For one thing, she’s no tax evader nor is guilty of moral turpitude. That’s the basis of a disqualification case filed versus Bongbong Marcos who, ironically, is leading in the last survey. He was convicted of non-payment of taxes when he was vice governor and governor of Ilocos Norte in the ‘80s. He was fined – amount penalty not known. The Tax Code says, you violate it, you lose your right to vote and be voted upon for like eternity. Simple and uncomplicated as that.
Bongbong is the son of a former dictator who is unabashedly proud of his heritage and his father’s dubious legacy which he has defined as the golden age. By what standard, the jury is still out. Forget the millions, even billions, worth of unexplained wealth the Marcoses have amassed during the father’s regime. A good part of it has already been proven by courts as belonging to the government. As they say, he’s entitled to his opinion but not to his own fact.
To be fair, even in an imperfect world, the son should not be made to pay for the sin of the father. He who has no sin must throw the first stone. Granted, how on earth did he come up with the not-so-bright idea that that his father’s time was the ‘golden age’ in the Philippines? It’s debatable. There is mendacity, mental dishonesty or plain,simple lie written all over that claim, given the facts and court decisions to the contrary. Fairness, like trust, should be a two-way traffic.
Robredo isn’t impressed, is unwavering and unequivocal about her message: the fruit doesn’t fall very far from the tree. Carlos Santayana said it before: forget the past, you repeat it the second time around. Robredo’s caveat: why take the risk, and at this juncture in the nation’s life, reeling heavily because of pandemic and mediocre leadership?
It’s no secret to many, if not most. Some, or all the other ,presidential bets have somehow, at one time or another, been identified with Marcos Senior the past dictator, and President Duterte, his trying-hard copy cat. Tell me who your friends are, says the old proverb, and I will tell you who you are. That’s what Robredo has been saying: her opponents have flirted with or benefitted from authoritarianism and helped empower anti-democratic, anti-Constitutional leadership.
Robredo doesn’t have any of that in her neat political resume as a presidential bet.
Speaking of betting, one cannot make the wrong choice and still hopes that the right result will happen. As tech experts warn, garbage in, garbage out. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Choosing a leader is likened to buying a box of cereals. You look for visible damage on the box that will indicate the product isn’t safe.
That’s what Robredo is saying: buyers beware.
The good news: so far, more and more people are buying into Robredo’s message. At the last survey, she’s now in second place at 18 percent to Bongbong’s 47 percent. A long way to go, difficult but not impossible to overcome. There have been elections in the recent past were the frontrunners snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The 2016 presidential race is a classic example. Rodrigo Roa Duterte was elected by a plurality, not majority, vote, coming from behind in surveys. There’s destiny to reckon with, he usually says.
In other words, Robredo can still pull it off, and there is enough time left do that. She may need a miracle to do that, but Filipinos can create their own miracle. But first, they just have to be told like it is: only Robredo has the immaculate record as a public servant and leader. The others don’t, period.
Former US President Theodore Roosevelt said that good and evil should not be treated on the same level. Bums need to be thrown out at the end of the day. Robredo is the defining distinction that voters need to see. The bad news: the communication lines to the voters need fixing.