“.gudevening sir!..ask q lng sir kung cnu ibo2to nyo for president?,I haven’t decided yet kze sir,.kuha lng po aq ng basis”
It was a message from Dennis Quines of Laoag City, one of my former students. I was both surprised and overwhelmed that he would ask me such question. Surprised because Dennis and I really never got to talk about anything beyond Logic, the course he took up under me; overwhelmed because Dennis is a first-time voter who is very carefully in assessing his choices, and I felt obliged to offer good advice.
Unfortunately, I cannot proclaim my bet to the public, although my friends already know who I am for. My public persona as journalist, political analyst, educator, and civil servant requires that I maintain a certain level of objectivity. Showing political color would be divisive, and people will either not listen to me anymore, or will begin to look at me with eyes of cynicism if I do so. Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Conrado de Quiros takes a different path in vigorously supporting and defending Noynoy. I will not follow his lead.
But I could tell Dennis the type of candidates I will not vote for, so he might want to go through a process of elimination.
This time, I want to vote for a winnable candidate, someone who really has a good chance. In the past two elections, I supported the late Raul Roco, now dubbed, and rightfully so, as the best president this country never had. In 2004, I was pretty sure he would not win, but I voted for him anyway, and I do not regret having done so. I voted for a hero.
This time, however, I would like to make my vote actually matter. I will choose a candidate who can actually win.
Erap Estrada’s return to power is dim. What remains of his luster is simply not enough for Malacañang Part II.
Gibo Teodoro is capable, but his candidacy was doomed to fail from the start. Gloria Arroyo’s support, which the youngest presidentiable banks on, is a kiss of death. Misfortune turns to tragedy as GMA reportedly supports a not-so-secret candidate.
Richard Gordon and Eddie Villanueva are decent candidates who just could not make it. Unfortunately, neither principles nor faith are enough to win the preseidency.
Nicanor Perlas and Ang Kapatiran’s JC De los Reyes are running on a platform of good governance and alternative politics. But, at best, they are just token candidates. ‘Pampagulo’ is how others refer to them. It is interesting that Jamby madrigal, my former boss, also falls under this category. They cannot even score one percent in credible election surveys. And Vetellano “Dodong” Acosta’s name is but a waste of ink and ballot space.
There are two only winnable candidates, owing to their huge popularity and organized machinery: Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar. My choices, therefore, are down to two. Although other candidates may be better than the two frontrunners, they just cannot make it. Politics is a game of numbers, and so we must play by the rules of the game.
What I am very sure of is that I will not vote for any candidate who exploits the issue of poverty for his political ends. I reject anyone who pretends to have been poor, and who projects Filipinos on TV as dirty and destitute.
There is a striking difference between the way Villar and Aquino run their respective campaigns. The former projects himself as the great messiah who will deliver our benighted land from the depths of poverty (Kaya ng pangulong tapusin ang kahirapan) while Noynoy, true to the people power form, offers himself as leader of a people’s movement (lalaban tayo) against corruption and inequity. In a true democracy, there is no room for egoistic Messiahs, there is much space for people empowerment.
I have previously criticized Noynoy in this column, and have even described him as dull and unintelligent. I was initially dismayed by Noynoy’s dismal performance in debates. Ninoy and Cory’s son, however, greatly improved since then, and has even challenged Villar to a one-on-one. The billionaire from Las Piñas is apparently not interested to hit the podium against the bachelor from Tarlac. The former would rather reminisce his ‘dagat ng basura’ days, which many now believe is more fiction than fact.
My only fear then was that our province would be excluded, isolated in a Noynoy presidency. I feared that we would be taken for granted, ignored, if not persecuted. This is why I felt relieved when Noynoy, Kris Aquino and James Yap in tow, finally visited Ilocos Norte, turf of the Marcoses, their family’s archnemesis.
Oh, Dennis, did I answer your question well? Sorry but this is as far as I can get.