Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9 April 2016


It is exactly one month to Election Day 2016, and among the most important choices that will be made by the Filipino people are who they will choose to lead the country—the president and vice president. And on that choice will depend whether we will go forward as a nation, no more the sick man of Asia, or we will fall back and limp along, with growth and development rates falling back to where they were for the period 1960-2009, with our neighbors growing more than twice as fast.So our choices must be made on the best information we can get regarding our candidates, not on the basis of the TV ads which put the candidates’ best foot forward, to the point of lying. So, sans the spin of those commercials but based on the best research that I can do, here are the pros and cons of the candidates for president. Hopefully, these will help the Reader judge them, using three criteria: competence, people empowerment, and integrity. Failure in one should be failure in all.

Jojo Binay: With regard to competence, his pluses include his education—a UP law degree and master’s degrees (public administration, national security, law). He also has 30 years of government experience (mayor of Makati for more than 20 years, with his wife and son filling in the gaps, chair of the Metro Manila Development Authority, Vice President and housing Secretary), and he was president of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines for more than 10 years

With regard to empowering the citizenry, he has given the citizens of Makati free uniforms, textbooks, and school supplies, the University of Makati, the Ospital ng Makati, free birthday cakes and movies and cash grants to senior citizens.The cons of Binay have to do with his integrity. The major issue against him is his unexplained wealth (he and his family have multimillion-peso houses and condos in Makati; his bank accounts are in the hundreds of millions of pesos). He has been caught out in so many whoppers (the biggest of which is his disowning the hacienda he has in Batangas when it is common knowledge among residents in that area that he is the owner, having bought the lots from them, having hired them to work for him, and his own daughter admits that it is theirs, with pictures to prove it. The next biggest issue is his claim that he built Makati into the country’s major financial and business center (ridiculous). He also came out with a TV ad showing how his mother died because there was no money for medicine, but he later claimed that he inherited property from her (as well as another from his father).He shares the wealth of Makati with the people of Makati, but his is by far the larger share, according to his former vice mayor and close confidant for 20 years, Ernesto Mercado. He also shares it with over 500 sister cities, but the motives for his generosity are questionable. Mercado also claims that the wealth Binay accumulated from graft and corruption over the years is at least P15 billion. That would mean roughly P30,000 per capita taken from Makati citizens. At least.Other relevant points: He has founded a political dynasty. He has issues concerning age (74 in November) and health (the rumor is lupus).

Rodrigo Duterte:  With regard to competence, he has a law degree from San Beda College. He has been mayor (or vice mayor to his daughter) of Davao City for more than 20 years, and he was a state prosecutor before then for 10 years. Also a congressman, in between mayoral terms. Four presidents (Ramos, Estrada, Arroyo, Aquino) offered him a post in the Cabinet as interior secretary; he refused all of them (they must have thought he was competent).With regard to empowering the people: As mayor, Duterte appointed deputies to represent lumad and Muslim interests. He claims to have reduced the crime rate in Davao between 1985 and 2005, but this is disputable (police statistics show an increase between 1999 and 2008). He issued orders forbidding smoking, drinking (between 1 a.m. and 8 a.m.) and firecrackers. He also built a drug treatment and rehabilitation center giving 24-hour service, provided a 911 emergency service, and increased the number of police patrol vehicles. He has helped “Yolanda” and earthquake victims in neighboring provinces.With regard to integrity: No corruption cases or charges against him. Painfully truthful.

Cons: Duterte has been accused by human rights groups and Amnesty International of, and has admitted to, tolerating the extrajudicial killing of alleged criminals by the vigilante Davao death squads. He has admitted to philandering and womanizing as the reason for his failed first marriage. But he has not admitted to physical abuse of his first wife, who is apparently campaigning for him. He admits to not going to church. He is the only one I know who, as a youth, was expelled by two different schools (including Ateneo de Davao) for misconduct. His propensity for profanity (even against the Pope) is legend.Other relevant points: He has also founded a political dynasty (so the Davao mayoralty has been in Duterte hands for 28 years). He has issues concerning age (just turned 71) and health. He has admitted to having Buerger’s Disease, a swelling of blood vessels in the arms and legs which can prevent blood flow, causing clots to form. It is associated with smoking and is incurable. The only way to stop it from getting worse is to stop smoking, which he has done. The rumor  is that he has been having dialysis twice weekly for the past five years. (Next week:  Poe, Roxas, Santiago)