A Hot Mess

May 2, 2016 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

Philippine Daily Inquirer Photo

May 9, 2016 is an important date for the Philippines. On that day, the Filipinos will elect the successor to President Benigno Aquino III who completes his six-year term this year.

There are five leading candidates vying to succeed him.

According to the latest SWS polls conducted April 18 to 20, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte leads with 33% voter preference rating. In second place is Senator Grace Poe with 24%. Department of the Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay are in a dogfight for third and fourth place with 19% and 14% respectively. Senator Miriam Santiago is lagging way behind in fifth place with 2%.

Rodrigo Duterte
Philippine Daily Inquirer Photo

I don’t like Rodrigo Duterte. From what I’ve read, he makes Donald Trump look like an angel.

Duterte is a bad-mouther unbecoming of a president. He had cursed Pope Francis. He had made a sick joke about an Australian missionary who was held hostage, gang raped, and killed in his city, saying she was so beautiful he should have been the first to assault her.

Duterte projects a strong man persona. It makes him appealing in a country where law enforcement is weak and the wheels of justice grinds ever slowly. He’s an enforcer who supports vigilante justice. It’s alleged that he has death squads responsible for summary executions of criminals and drug dealers.

Grace Poe
Philippine Daily Inquirer Photo

I’ve got nothing much to say about Grace Poe, who was leading in the survey in March, and that says a lot. She topped the senatorial slate in 2010 riding on the popularity of her late step-father, Fernando Poe, Jr., a movie actor and candidate for president himself in 2004.

An attempt to disqualify her because she was a foundling, she had previously renounced her Filipino citizenship, and she didn’t meet the residency requirements, failed after the Supreme Court declared her fit to run.

Politically, she could be considered a neophyte but showing much promise. She’s smart and intelligent. She was able to hold her own during the last three presidential debates.

Jejomar Binay
Philippine Daily Inquirer Photo

Vice President Jejomar Binay is in a class by himself. For thirty years, he and his family considered Makati as their fiefdom taking turns as Mayor of the country’s richest city. It has made him and his family very rich through graft and corruption.

From the way, he managed Makati, we could get a glimpse of what kind of president he would be. He would be ruthless. He would run the country like a Mafia don. The only difference is that while there’s honor among thieves in the Mafia world, there’s no such thing in the Binay’s world. In the Mafia world, the Mafia dons shelter their wives and children from their shady deals. In the Binay’s world, he exposes them and makes thievery a family affair.

In fairness to Binay, he has done some good. He served as pro bono lawyer for political prisoners during the Martial Law years. As Mayor of Makati, he initiated programs that provided free social, education, and medical services to poor residents. What might have started as good intentions, however, ended up being a front for stealing taxpayers money through kickbacks, rigged biddings on infrastructure projects, and overpricing of medical supplies and hospital equipment.

Mar Roxas
Philippine Daily Inquirer Photo

Mar Roxas has the right pedigree. He’s the grandson of Manual Roxas, the first president of the Philippines after it was granted independence in 1946.

He was a former congressman and senator. His career in public service spanned two decades serving in different capacities under three presidents. The last position that he held was that of Secretary of the Interior and Local Government under President Aquino.

Among the presidential candidates, I think Roxas is the most qualified considering his extensive experience in public service. In addition, the fact that he’s untainted by corruption is a big plus.

Roxas was President Aquino’s candidate to continue his Daang Matuwid (straight path) platform to end corruption which led to the detention of former President Gloria Arroyo and three senators on plunder charges. It could prove to be his kryptonite. By embracing Daang Matuwid, Roxas becomes the target of those who want to get back at President Aquino. They will ensure that he loses in the coming elections.

In another era, he would have been a shoo-in to win. But not this time around. He will likely lose.

Miriam Santiago
Philippine Daily Inquirer Photo

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago is the most accomplished Filipino woman in modern history having served in all three branches of the Philippine government with distinction.

Santiago ran for president in 1992 and many believed she would have won. According to Wikipedia, she was leading in the canvassing of votes for the first five days until power outages occurred. She filed an electoral protest claiming fraud but it didn’t prosper in court.

Although Santiago ranks high among university students, it appears that her time has passed. All national polls put her in last place. Partly, it could be due to her declining health. She has been diagnosed with lung cancer. But mainly it could be due to her lack of political machinery and funds to run an effective campaign.

A week before the elections, it looks like the Philippines will elect its first president from the second largest island. As it stands, any candidate other than Binay is preferable. He and his family have their chance of enriching themselves. Enough of the Binays already. It’s time for others to share in the bounty.

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