Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10 October 2015


We must be the only country, among those with presidential or semipresidential systems, where the number of vice-presidential candidates exceeds the number of presidential candidates. We have three declared serious presidential contenders, with a fourth who is expected to declare this weekend (after categorically declaring otherwise some time ago). But we have five declared vice-presidential candidates, with a sixth who “still has to consult his family,” which was never a factor for him before.

Let’s give these possible VPs a quick run-through.

Five of them are sitting senators: Allan Peter Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Greg Honasan (he who has to consult his family), Bongbong Marcos, and Sonny Trillanes. Four of the five are halfway through their senatorial terms—it seems they are willing to break their six-year contract with the people—and, if they lose, they can go back to being senators for three more years (an anomalous situation that only senators enjoy). Only Marcos’ term ends in 2016, so he is risking a lot more by throwing his hat in the vice presidential ring, when he can safely run for senator again. No job is waiting for him if he loses. The sixth, Leni Robredo, is a congresswoman whose term ends in 2016. In effect, she has, like Marcos, served her contract with her constituents. And if she loses in this race, she has no safety net, unlike the four others. And she will have no dynasts to depend on.

Also remember that Jojo and Chiz were as thick as thieves in 2010, with Chiz generally acknowledged to have engineered the “Noy-Bi” strategy that put Binay over Mar Roxas. It was supposed to be “Bi-Chiz” in 2016. But Binay’s troubles have made him no longer attractive, and Chiz has abandoned him for greener, more grace-ful pastures. So it is now “Bi-Hon.” Karma?

So that leaves three other “VP-ables”— Cayetano, Marcos and Trillanes, with the spectacle of Cayetano and Marcos, both active members of “fat” political dynasties, as rivals for the hand of a so-far “non-presidentiable.” With no regard as to what the objectives and the roles are going to be. One reads that Marcos has the inside track (at least with the original supporters of Rodrigo Duterte), but don’t dismiss Cayetano just yet. And one remembers that in 2013, it was Allan Peter who was generally acknowledged to have ensured that Chiz would not be the top senatorial candidate (votewise) and thereby harder to beat in any future contest between the two, by supporting Grace Poe. Karma?

And Trillanes? He apparently doesn’t care that no “presidentiable” is even considering him. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain (name recall) by running.

So what is the score so far? At this point, only the Mar-Leni combination comes out smelling good. Mar has shown that he is competent, and incorruptible. Leni has shown that she is not driven by selfish ambition (which causes shifting allegiance, and back-stabbing, and disregard for the country’s needs), but by a humble desire to serve the people. Competence and integrity are also her watchwords. So far, no other combination comes close to this. Moreover, there has been no party-changing in their case, which is more than one can say for most of the others.

That is in so far as the first step toward getting this country on a sustainable-development path is concerned: We have to vote for the best we have, who can do the job well and with integrity.

Now what about the second step—i.e., to ensure that our votes are counted properly? Reader, you may have come across the full-page ad in this newspaper regarding the election anomalies in Bataan. The Commission on Elections should answer it point by point instead of trying to hide behind technicalities or pretending that all is well. Also, apparently because of my column last week, Loida Lewis e-mailed me a link to a YouTube presentation dated Sept. 26, 2015, and titled “PCOS Fraud” by Glenn Chiong, a former local government executive of Biliran in the Eastern Visayas.

This is the clearest, simplest presentation I have watched on the matter. And it will at least convince you of the seriousness of our situation. It talks about the safeguards that the law provides, and the absolute disregard for these safeguards in the past two elections. It also gives concrete examples of anomalies, which belie the claim that no cheating can occur under automation. At the very least, the Comelec should tell us, in as clear a manner as possible, what it is doing to restore the safeguards instead of reportedly saying that the Comelec cannot guarantee free, fair and orderly elections.

Is that too much too ask? Chair Andy Bautista, how about it?