(First published in the Philippine Star issue of May 10, 2013)

I wanted my column last Monday to be my final political column for this election season. I thought it would be enough to give a general view of how I think we should select our candidates for the election this Monday. But readers wrote to say that they want me to be more specific…


I have given more than broad hints on who my favorites are. But I avoided enumerating who I am voting for because I thought that was kind of personal. What works for me does not necessarily work for other people. I am a little more free with my opinion on who to vote in my Facebook comments because that is, at least theoretically, just among friends.


I also struggled with the thought that maybe I should publicly stay neutral. But then again, I write a column, an opinion piece. I am not a reporter writing straight news. I am expected to have an opinion on important public issues and what can be more important than choosing the right candidates for public office.


So I figure that this column should be treated the same way all columns are treated by readers… as one man’s opinion. Everyone is free to agree with my choices or disagree with me. We all have our reasons for the choices we make. I am not endorsing anybody, just letting my readers have an idea of how I processed my choices. So here goes…


First of all, for the Senate, I believe democracy means giving as wide a chance for any citizen to aspire for public office. That means we should aim to dismantle political dynasties. But given our present situation, exemptions cannot be avoided.


I look at the present Senate as a failure… an embarrassment. For this reason, I am holding all the present members responsible. So, I am not voting for anyone running for re-election and those directly related to sitting or retiring senators.


It makes absolutely no sense to vote for the old ones who failed the public during their term. That’s like repeating a failure in the hope that it will produce a different outcome. That’s plainly stupid. I am not voting for someone just because he or she is a sure winner. I also don’t believe in religious voting.


I go for diversity. No straight voting for me. For a deliberative body like the Senate, it is important to have different views on issues. Inclusion is the essence of democracy.


I will not vote for traditional politicians who promise beyond what they can deliver as members of the legislature. Anyone who promises food on the table for everyone is clearly fooling the people. No one senator can promise something that’s within the realm of the executive branch.


Anyone who promises jobs for everyone is also fooling the public. Unless he or she is able to provide those jobs in his or her private company, there is no way an elected senator can deliver on that promise.


There are other promises candidates make that turn me off, but for the moment here are the choices I have made, rightly or wrongly.


On top of my list is Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay. He has proven himself to be honest and capable in his past terms at the Senate. He is spotlessly clean. He is an engineer and an entrepreneur and not a lawyer.


At his age, Jun Magsaysay has nothing more to prove than to preserve the legacy of his illustrious father, Ramon Magsaysay, the most beloved of our past presidents.


Jun also did well as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He exposed the fertilizer scam of Ate Glue and also promoted agricultural development.


Jun practices what he preaches. He has put up a dairy farm after he reached his term limit in the Senate. He knows the problems of farmers from actual experience.


There are people who may not appreciate my next choice but I am voting for Dick Gordon. They see Dick as mayabang… too full of himself. But I like Dick’s sense of urgency. He is also a no nonsense kind of guy which makes him an acquired taste in our social milieu. You either like him or hate him. He will not pander to anybody to make them like him.


Dick is very results oriented. Erap made a big mistake taking him out of Subic. Dick also sponsored the landmark Tourism Industry Law which now provides the framework for the development of our tourism industry as a major job creator.


Bam Aquino is my exception to the political dynasty rule. But that is only because I have first hand knowledge of the quality of this guy. As a neighbor, I have seen Bam grow up from knee pants to the honor graduate of Ateneo to the internationally acknowledged community worker he has become.


Bam earned probably all the top honors when he graduated from Ateneo and could have chosen a lucrative career in business. But he chose to go out there and help communities with livelihood opportunities.


Bam had better preparation for public office as a community worker than if he became a lawyer. The Senate will benefit from his youth and his on-the-ground experience as a social entrepreneur.


Ed Hagedorn is next on my list. His local government experience, proven commitment to environmental protection and even his colorful past all contribute to the kind of fresh perspective we badly need in the Senate. Like Gordon, he is also a no nonsense guy who goes after results.


Risa Hontiveros is on my list because she represents an important point of view for women and the democratic left. She has shown her commitment to a cause bigger than herself and the social class she came from. She should have won the last time and she is worthier than many on top of the surveys.


There are other names I am still considering. But I can’t say I will go for them now.


Teddy Casino is often frustratingly ideological like the groups he is mostly identified with. But that is his public image. In person, he seems more reasonable and more ready to listen.


In any case, I think the somewhat extreme left needs a voice in the Senate too. It is better to fight them with ideas in the halls of Congress than with M-16s in the hills of Sierra Madre.


But I doubt that Teddy can keep this charade about the left’s so called parliamentary struggle. At some point he will have to make a choice between the extremism of a Joma Sison or the pragmatism of a Deng Xiaoping.


That PhilStar front page May 1 photo of screaming red banners and streamers with the images of Stalin, Mao, Marx, Engels, etc. made it clear how awfully North Korean our extreme left is. How totally irrelevant and scary! Come to think of it, not even the North Koreans do that any more.


Teddy must disown them. China, the biggest communist country today used capitalist principles to emerge as the world’s second largest economic power. Even Cuba under Raul Castro is changing and has introduced private capital and initiative to improve the economic conditions of the Cubans.


Eddie Villanueva is iffy for me. What he has going is a sense of right or wrong that his born again Christian mission suggests. He has a sense of nationalism inculcated in his student activist days.


But it bothers me that Eddie seems too eager for public office. Serving the public does not require public office. He can do a lot as a Christian pastor, probably more than as a Senator. I have a nagging fear that he has a strong potential to disappoint but he can’t be worse than the rest of usual candidates.


Among the really unknowns, Samson Alcantara distinguished himself during the public debates. Someone to think about!


For party list, I am thinking of voting for Kaakbay only because their nominee is Leonor Briones, the former National Treasurer and UP Professor. We need someone like her who is clean and understands government finances in the House to watch over our public funds. She is also a fighter the trapos cannot silence.


Indeed, I can’t see any more choices. Sadly, the Senate our voters are likely to elect will look pretty much like the Senate we now have, a family enterprise of the political dynasties and showbiz types.


But no matter what we might think about our rotten system, we have to make choices in the interest of our children and our grandchildren’s future. It is an awesome responsibility we cannot afford to flub.



From Arturo Acosta.

We hang petty thieves and appoint (elect?) the great ones to public office.

Aesop, Greek Slave & Fable Author


DEMAND AND SUPPLY is Boo Chanco’s column in the Philippine Star. E-mail the author at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco.