Time to focus on VP battle
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The future of our country actually depends on the outcome of the fight for the vice presidency. I have given up trying to convince myself that I can vote any of the candidates for president and walk out of the voting booth confident that I have chosen well.
I want to think that whoever is elected president on May 9 is largely going to be a transition president – a transition from business as usual to change we can bank on. The one good thing this campaign season delivered is the awakening of voters that change has to happen.
And this change is all about a break from the usual politics of the Metro Manila elite. They are being roused from their comfort zones in this electoral season. They can no longer be continually enriched by our rising GDP while the rest of our 100 million plus population get nothing much. The poor among us and many of us who think of ourselves as middle class are still mired in economic insecurity.
This is why I wrote months before the campaign season heated up that if Duterte didn’t exist, we would need to invent him. The alternative is a bloody revolution.
Duterte shocked the elite and those who think they are among the elite. His language is vulgar, he looks like a goon and publicly kisses women on the lips to the total discomfort of so called polite society. But he delivered the message of change and attracted a legion of supporters who adulate him like a rock star. They are angry about the status quo and Duterte represents change.
The one good thing about Duterte that tempted me to consider him on May 9 is that he is not from Metro Manila. He comes from the troubled South and has a record of tough governance that seems just what the country needs now.
My economist friend Toti puts it succinctly: “It seems to me that the public has concluded that nobody who’s from or close to the Manila-based oligarchic elite can fix our problems. Even Grace Poe ran on a continuity platform, fearing to alienate P-Noy and the yellow crowd. She underestimated the anger out there.”
Indeed, many think Duterte is too ill-mannered to represent the country in international functions. The ruling Metro Manila elite are uncomfortable because they do not really know him and they probably didn’t even consider contributing to his campaign.
If only for all that, Duterte is just the man we need to effect change. At this time it seems any change is better than a continuity of incompetence and the rent seeking conspiracy of a ruling elite who stay detached from the hard life of the masses.
But Duterte may prove to be too unpredictable for our own good. While it is alright for a change leader to keep the traditional power elites guessing, the country also needs some level of predictability for the economy and society to function.
It may become too tiring for the nation to keep on guessing their president’s every move, every utterance. If he is about to declare war on China, I want to see evidence other options were considered. It should not happen only because President Duterte woke up with a migraine and on the wrong side of his bed.
I am also antsy about his promise to give up the presidency after six months or even a year and turn over government to Bongbong if his fight against crime and illegal drugs fails. This is why it is important that we have a vice president we can trust and not related in any way to politicians of the past who did our country wrong.
My biggest fear about voting for Duterte is that I may actually be voting Bongbong Marcos for president. Marcos had been leading the VP contest. SWS April 18-20 puts Leni Robredo at 26 vs BBM’s 25, a statistical tie. The latest Pulse Asia poll April 16-20 released as I write this column puts BBM ahead again at 29 vs Robredo at 24.
We don’t get a chance to vote for an ideal public servant like Ms. Robredo every day. I do not remember anyone who has her kind of grassroots public service record before being elected president or vice president. It is also noteworthy she has spent most of life out of Metro Manila.
Leni had served her province of Camarines Sur with NGOs that cater to the needs of the very poor. She did that years ago without thinking she would run for public office. She had traveled to the remotest barangays of her province to help poverty stricken countrymen defend their rights or learn skills that would alleviate the impact of poverty in their lives.
Leni’s commitment is based on a shared public service philosophy with her late husband Jesse, who once received the recognition of the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation for excellence in public service. If he didn’t die prematurely in that plane crash, he would have been an ideal candidate for president today.
But a President Jesse was not to be. A Vice President Leni is, however, within our reach. That thought seemed impossible just a few months ago but the story of this woman whose heart and life had been totally committed to serving the marginalized of society is difficult to ignore.
And because I know she will continue helping those who are in her words, nasa laylayan ng lipunan, the least I can do is to help her do what she does best by voting for her. On May 9, that is the obligation of all Filipinos who worry about our country’s future.
Forget that Leni is part of a ticket that represents an administration that lacks empathy and the ability to move the economy beyond rosy macroeconomic numbers. Indeed many of us have done that already. That explains why Leni is on the verge of being elected while voter acceptance of Mar Roxas remains weak.
The biggest danger for our future is for us to elect the son of the deposed dictator. The Marcos family refuses to acknowledge the damage martial law has done to our country and people. As for hidden wealth, it must be there somewhere or how could Mr Marcos run an expensive campaign?
A Marcos just a heartbeat away from reclaiming Malacanang isn’t a comforting thought. Moving on by going back to the past isn’t too bright a thing to do.
I know many are voting for Marcos because they are angry with P-Noy and want to deliver a strong message. That’s not a very bright idea.
Why vote for the Marcos kid who grew up spoiled, rich and was never really interested in how the poor lived? And why vote for a Marcos when there is Leni Robredo whose style of leadership and public service record offers the hope our people need.
Go ahead and vote for Duterte, Poe, Binay, Roxas or Santiago. But vote for Leni Robredo for Vice President. Voting for Leni is voting for our future.
It is still very much an uphill drive for Leni Robredo. Those who want her to win should not be complacent. She is up against a formidable political force in and out of the present administration.
Remember that Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa is the one who does the backroom political operations for P-Noy. All government appointments passed through his office and he can collect on past favors.
Ochoa is the partner of the wife of Bongbong in a law office called MOST where M stands for Marcos and O for Ochoa. His ties with Bongbong is strong and it is to his interest to see Bongbong win so that “tuloy ang ligaya.”
Leni Robredo is our insurance policy. We need to keep our country safe for democracy by making sure someone in high office is truly looking out for our poor. Bongbong will look out for the restoration of the Marcos family. It’s as simple as that.