Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 30 April 2016


Every voter should be able to defend his or her choice of president and vice president (and, for that matter, his or her other choices for public office) in a way that will show that the Philippines will be better off for it.

So, Reader, if the reasons behind your votes are something like “I am Ilocano/Cebuano/Davaoeño, so I will vote for whoever is my province-mate,” or “We went to school together,” or “We are related by blood/marriage,” or “Basta, I am for So and so, and I have every right to vote for him/her,” or “I am sick and tired of things as they are, and I want change,” I urge you to rethink your choice. Because those reasons don’t pass muster. We are all Filipinos before we are Caviteños, Ateneans, or relatives of candidates.

Certainly, voting is our right, but every right has a corresponding responsibility—and in this case, our responsibility is to vote for the best person for the job, especially when we are voting for those who, for the next six years, are going to be steering the ship of state. Please, Reader. This is not a horse race, or a popularity contest, where we can throw out our tickets or cash them in, and walk away without further thought.

I have made my choices, and I will run them by you, dear Reader, because I want you to tell me where I may have gone wrong in my reasoning. If I haven’t gone wrong, I want to influence as many as possible to my way of thinking.

I choose Mar Roxas for president and Leni Robredo for vice president. Why?

Let’s talk about the presidency. Remember my two previous columns, where I listed the pluses or minuses for each candidate (except for Miriam Santiago), in as objective a manner as possible? Well, if you use that data set as a basis, it has to be obvious that Roxas comes out head and shoulders above the rest, in terms of integrity, people empowerment, and experience/competence.

Take a look at this summary:

Integrity. There were no questions raised about Roxas’ integrity throughout the
campaign, and none over all his 23 years in public service. That has to be a first. So he rates very high in integrity compared to his opponents. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 as the highest grade (like UP), he would get a 1 (Excellent).

On the other hand, Jejomar Binay cannot explain how he, with a mayor’s income, since 1987, was able to afford the luxury house he has in Makati (as has been shown on GMA TV) and the houses/condo apartments of his children, why his youngest daughter claims the Batangas “hacienda” as their property (while he denies it), why there was a P2-billion overprice of the Makati parking building, and why he owns so many bank accounts (in the billions). He would get a 5 (Fail).

Rodrigo Duterte freely admits that the Davao Death Squad (DDS) operates with his approval. Fr. Amado Picardal, CSsR, of Davao (a Redemptorist), in his website journal, summarizes the DDS information thusly: From 1998 to 2015, the DDS killed 1,425 persons, 57 of them female, 132 of whom were children (17 and below), and of whom six were girls. Young adults (18-25) killed: 476, of whom 19 were female. And get this: 14 of those killed were cases of mistaken identity.

And, of course, we now have, at the very least, a charge of incomplete SALNs (statements of assets, liabilities and net worth) against Duterte, brought up by Sen. Antonio Trillanes, who has a list of Duterte bank accounts not included in the Duterte SALNs. We do not know why it took this long for Trillanes to come up with the information. But we do know that Duterte, apparently, lied when he said that he had no such accounts: He was caught out by both this newspaper and Roxas, who independently deposited cash to those accounts, and the receipts they got showed that the accounts were indeed under the name of Duterte, and/or Duterte and his daughter Sara. That’s P227 million worth. Duterte also gets a 5 (his family is now called the Binays of Davao City).

Grace Poe seems to have a problem distinguishing between truth and falsehood, because her stories change to suit the audience she faces. The latest example of this is her announcement that her husband had already renounced his American citizenship. Later news on TV was that he renounced his American citizenship before a local barangay captain. Hello? Who are they kidding? You have to face an American consul (outside the United States, obviously) for your renunciation to be recognized. Compared to Binay and Duterte, though, she should get a 3 (Pass).

Competence and People empowerment. Roxas again gets a high grade of 1.0. Why? He has executive and legislative experience. And his executive experience is national in scope. The number of meaningful legislation he was responsible for (even those against his interests) and the BPO program which he carried out successfully far exceed anything that his rivals can claim.

Binay has 23 years of local and six years of national executive experience, no legislative. Duterte has no national executive experience and some 22 years of local experience, but he has three years of legislative experience. I gave them both a grade of 2. Poe has very little executive experience (two years as chair of the Movies and Television Review and Classification Board, and three years of legislative experience). She gets a grade of 3.

Roxas 2; Poe, 6; Binay 7; Duterte 7.

As for the vice presidency, as I said, Leni gets my vote. And the why of it is clear from the debates that we all must have witnessed. She was so obviously cut from a different cloth than her rivals. She represents true change in the quality of politics and politicians—change for the better. We need her. More next week.