Electing senators in 2019 and beyond

 

Senatorial positions are again at stake in the upcoming May 2019 elections and this early we are already seeing political parties either floating or identifying names of candidates that could at best boost and make appealing the image of their party to insure political gains.

Sadly and disturbingly, however, some political party leaders continue resisting in adapting better ways of promoting the embodiment of their respective parties, like selecting candidates with impeccable character and tract record, but rather contented, as usual, with representations that leave voters aghast and wondering whether or not their candidates could make a difference in the country’s future.

The motivation in doing so simply points to the fact that what is really promoted is the self-serving interest and survival of the party as oppose to what it should be which is putting the welfare of the country first and foremost over any other political consideration.

For decades now we had been seeing presidents come and go, yet their lack of strong leadership has failed this country such that we see ourselves always lagging behind among our neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

I am sure other countries have the same continuing inherent problems that we had been confronting all these years, like corruption, criminality, insurgency and illegal drugs, for that matter, but the lack of courage, resolve and political will from those we have elected to lead our country have always been our downfall.

We have finally come to realize that electing a traditional politician (trapo) to be at the helm of government is not the answer to our political, economic and social woes and this was proven when the Filipinos overwhelmingly opted to elect the unconventional Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as president in 2016.

Compared to past presidents Duterte stands head and shoulders over his predecessors, even as he finds himself only in his third year in office, in the way he has governed and positioned the country in the world stage.

The fact that Duterte has maintained a high trust and satisfaction rating to this day simply means that his leadership is acceptable and, thus, has won the moral ascendancy to continue guiding the country the way he sees fit until he could turn it around for the better.

Having said that, it now behooves on us all to extend to Duterte our full support/cooperation and ensure that we elect senators in 2019 whose integrity and competence are beyond question so that they could ably assist the president in making his plans come true for the country.

All I am saying, therefore, is let us not become victims anymore of their chicanery and finally put a stop of recycling former senators whose celebrity status and/or notorious reputation are their only means of getting elected, but whose integrity, competence and dedication remains suspicious at best and at worst, ineffective, as gleaned from their past performances.

It is about time we make choices for senators whose ideas could integrate with Duterte’s plan of making a meaningful and lasting difference for the country and in the lives of the greater number of Filipinos.

Duterte’s incorruptible and resolute leadership is being noticed in the community of nations and it is only appropriate, as it is reasonable, that those who we elect as senators in 2019 and beyond to write and pass laws, approve presidential appointments, etc., are equally sincere, reliable and competent.

 

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Duterte wrong in making Trillanes a political martyr

 

Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Antonio Trillanes

President Rodrigo Duterte may be a shrewd politician but his promulgation this time of Proclamation 572 ordering the police and the military to file criminal and administrative cases against Sen. Antonio Trillanes in connection with his involvement in 2003 Oakwood mutiny and 2007 Manila Peninsula siege is a grieve mistake that he will come to regret later.

There is no doubt that Trillanes has been a thorn in Duterte’s side ever since the latter thwarted the former’s political ambition of becoming his vice presidential running mate during the 2016 presidential election.

As swell-headed as Trillanes is as a politician, he recognized earlier the ‘bankability’ of Duterte as a presidential candidate and being a heartbeat away from the presidency was where he wanted himself positioned. It was for political expediency, pure and simple.

Duterte, however, know who Trillanes is and the latter’s military adventurism in the early 2000 may not have sit well with him, and neither his performance as a senator impressed him, thus he deemed Trillanes more as a baggage that could drag him down in the polls and therefore unacceptable.

This rebuff from Duterte did not deter Trillanes from running as an independent candidate and true enough he suffered the worst beating of his political career placing 5th among the 6 vice presidential aspirants.

To the cavalier Trillanes this humiliating defeat made him, along with another shamed senator, Leila de Lima, Duterte’s fiercest critics, with the former even going after the president’s children.

Of course we know how Trillanes got catapulted to the political limelight – his notoriety as leader of the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny and the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege which both aimed to overthrow the Arroyo administration.

Knowing at the time that the Filipinos were starting to get disgruntled with the corrupt administration of then Pres. Gloria Arroyo, Trillanes took advantage of the situation by playing with the emotions of the people, even as he faced serious rebellion charges, by declaring himself a candidate for senator in 2007.

Known for having affinity for underdogs, the Filipino people elected Trillanes senator of the realm even as his incarceration prevented him from going around the country campaigning.

Trillanes formally became a senator when President Benigno Aquino III, with the concurrence of Congress, granted him and at least 38 of his fellow Magdalo soldiers amnesty in December 2010. He was reelected to a second Senate term in 2013 and will remain as senator until his term ends in 2019.

But the nation finds itself once again in bedlam now as Duterte, through proclamation 572, has voided the amnesty given to Trillanes 8 years ago claiming it illegal from the very beginning.

Why, if Trillanes is indeed a pain in the ass for Duterte, does the senator have to be silenced this way? Does this not smack of political persecution?

This is why at the outset I said that Duterte may regret later to have taken this action because this kind of political repression only elevates and favorably changes the perception of the people about Trillanes.

It is because of Duterte’s high popularity and trust ratings that Trillanes has been preparing for his political demise.

But that seems to be changing now as Proclamation 572 is helping Trillanes regain his popularity and will be around for much longer to continue being Duterte’s tormentor.

This is the price Duterte has to pay for making Trillanes a political martyr.

 

 

Performance over intelligence

Sen. Antonio Trillanes and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte

In this day and age, Philippine politics is no longer about a candidate’s brilliant mind being noticed and catapulted to political stardom. It is now a free-for-all and it is not doing the country any good.

If the millennials are part of this readership, I would refer them to the era of the intellectual giants where the likes of Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Sumulong, Ambrosio Padilla, the Tañadas, the Pelaez’, the Tolentinos, the Manglapus, the Rodrigos, Gerardo Roxas, Jovito Salonga, Benigno Aquino Jr., among others, and even Ferdinand Marcos, who later became a dictator, graced the august body of the Senate not with their bloated egos, but with their brilliance and gift of gab.

Except for Marcos whose brutal regime ended disastrously for the country and its people, the other illustrious names mentioned above could have done a better job as president of the country but, alas, it never was their destiny to lead.  Or how could they when Marcos stifled their chances of becoming one.

Politics in this country evolved into one that has kept us thinking if we could do any better than electing movie stars, TV personalities, military people and others that have earned notoriety for one reason or another to the Senate and catapulting them to the presidency.

But more than the glaring flaw of the candidates in this new era, we can only blame the electorate for accepting and embracing the inadequacies of our present politicians and trusting them to lead us to nirvana.

Thus, in this day and age, performance matters more than the intelligence of any politician.

It is not therefore whether President Rodrigo Duterte is more intelligent than Senator Antonio Trillanes, or vice versa. I just find this argument childish, if not absurd.

Between the two we could only ask whose performance is impacting the nation today?

It should sink in Trillanes’ head by now that Duterte won the presidency because of his performance as Davao City mayor and his mission and vision to do the same to the country as a whole. His term is not yet over so we will see and give him the benefit of the doubt.

But it should even sink more in Trillanes’ head by now that his unsuccessful run for the vice presidency in 2016, placing 5th among the 6 candidates, speaks volume of the kind of person he is and his uneventful performance as a politician.

 

Duterte vents frustration

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

This may be aptly described also as the Duterte resignation brouhaha.

This has reference of course to the latest announcement by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte during a speech at Malacañang Palace that he was mulling of quitting the presidency, saying, “Guys, I want you to know that I am thinking of stepping down because I’m tired,” he said. “I am not angry [with] anybody. My chase against graft and corruption seems to be endless, and it has contaminated almost all government departments and offices.”

It is not the first time we have heard Duterte hinting about his plans of stepping down despite having four more years in his term.

But I don’t think Duterte is really serious in his threat of giving up the presidency.

For one he has made history and he owns the bragging rights about winning the presidency with over six million votes against his closest rival and to this day has a high support and trust rating from the Filipino people. In fact Duterte called his “historic” victory “the triumph of the people, by the people and for the people.”

But for another and more importantly, Duterte certainly would like history to be kind to him, thus all this brouhaha of having a Marcos or an Escudero to succeed him instead of Robredo and suggesting that a military junta would even be better to run the country when he steps down are all nonsensical and should not be taken seriously.

To say, however, that Duterte’s expressed feelings and emotions are product of his frustrations in not being able to defeat the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country and not being able to stop corruption from spreading in all sectors of government at the time frame he promised during the campaign and beyond is simply being forthright and human.

Duterte’s candor should not be mistaken for complete failure in his governance especially in dealing with corruption, criminality and most of all about the illegal drug scourge.

If Duterte has been able to sustain a high trust rating among Filipinos it simply means that most like what they see in him and what he is doing for the country. It could have been worse if we elected a yellow-bellied politician as a leader.

Thus, Duterte owes it to the people to continue leading.

But what the people can ask of Duterte at this very crucial moment in our history is to ponder once more if he really has the right people who like him, has primarily the interest of the country and the well-being of its people.

Duterte has to seriously think once more if his closeness with China a boon or bane for the country in the long term. I am saying this because almost all of the sources of illegal drugs in the country come from China and to think that China is very much our neighbor now.

Duterte should already refrain from trying to ram down in every Filipino’s throat to support and have another Marcos at the helm. Duterte won the presidency because he showed to be a different animal. Marcos belongs to the group of animals the people repudiated which made Duterte a winner.

Lastly, Duterte should rethink about his exhortation and move for the country to adopt a federal  form of government. This is one political recipe that will only exacerbate the proliferation of drugs, encourage more corruption and abet criminality. The country is not ready for this. The country needs politicians in the mold of Duterte to make federalism a success.

Otherwise, Duterte’s frustrations today will be the Filipino people’s nightmare tomorrow.

 

 

Presidential daughter should heed call to lead the country

 

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte

I am of course talking about Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the president’s daughter.

I could not agree more with Senator Panfilo Lacson who recently said that his choice for the next leader of the country is Sara.

For one who had been supporting President Rodrigo Duterte, warts and all, all these years, and acknowledge and recognizes his good intentions of making the whole country a safe and livable place, like what he has made Davao City to be one such place, I could not think of anybody else who could be more apt and adept to take over the reins of leadership than his own daughter, Sara.

Sara, in her own right, is also a lawyer and a successful politician.

Sara has been able to sustain what the father has started in Davao City, and she is her own person.

In totality Sara is what her father is – an out-of-the-box thinker, strict, tough and a heart especially for the poor. Cusswords? Well, she may likely utter them, too, but perhaps covertly, and I cannot blame her.

But over and above her character or attributes she has inherited from her father, what is important and significant is that she knows who her father is and what he is doing for the country and the Filipino people in general.

What I am driving at is having a continuity in the mission and vision of President Duterte for the country and its people. There could not be anybody else reliably better than Sara, the daughter herself.

It takes somebody like Sara, who is very close to the president, and who serves sometimes as a presidential confidant, to understand how things are done and to have no other selfish motivation but to move the country forward, help alleviate the lives of the people and establish a country that is respected and well spoken of.

Like Lacson, I am not saying that there are no emerging young leaders in the country to take over the helm of government after Duterte.

In fact how I wish Lacson, who himself is strict and straightforward, could take over after Duterte, but his past, as we all know, will just be used to haunt him.

But the truth is that I could not imagine having a Cayetano, a Trillanes, a Sotto, an Ejercito, a Poe, or an Escudero to succeed President Duterte.

Surely their motivation and aspirations will be different, as will be their sense of direction for lack of political will.

We had been there before and for a long time having traditional politicians as leaders and it got us nowhere.

With President Duterte at the helm there are favorable differences happening in the country that are welcomed by many Filipinos, thus Duterte’s high satisfaction ratings in the polls.

It will take another Duterte, hopefully Sara, to fulfill her father’s dreams for the country and its people.

 

Duterte’s scandalous choice of Arroyo

 

Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo replaces Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker of the House

I do not know how else to describe the Dutertes preference for former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the speakership of the House replacing Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, but one that is scandalous for several reasons.

When I say ‘Dutertes’, I actually mean Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and her daughter, Sara, who is presently the mayor of Davao City and the one identified as having orchestrated the coup against Alvarez.

There is no doubt that the Dutertes preference for Arroyo translated into a sealed victory for the latter, especially knowing that Duterte’s allies control the House. It was clearly seen as a rebuff of Alvarez’s leadership and his arrogant and ambitious persona that knew no respect for his co-equals in government, more so for those lower in rank.

I have no words of compassion for Alvarez, but like many, I only have disdain for the man, as he bitterly savors the taste of his own medicine.

But why choose a corruption-plagued former president as a replacement for Alvarez?

As it is, we are still divided as people and the support and election of Arroyo is not only scandalous in nature but is adding more crack to the chasm that already exist among us.

If the Dutertes believe that Arroyo can be used as an instrument to unite the people, I think they haven’t accurately felt the pulse of the people.

The Filipino people has had enough of former president Arroyo, after being involved in major anomalies such as the Fertilizer Fund scam, the Hello Garci controversy, the National Broadband Network scandal, the Northrail controversy, etc. This is not even mentioning the corruption charges filed against Arroyo’s husband and son.

The fact the Arroyo was under hospital arrest for charges of electoral fraud and misuse of millions of dollars in state lottery funds speak volumes of the kind of leader she is.

Very ironic, indeed, that Duterte, who won the presidency on the promise, among other things, to work for a corrupt-free society has taken into his fold a high profile corrupt politician. Sad to say it simply defeats the purpose of the Duterte presidency.

Certainly, Arroyo’s ascendancy as the leader of the House does not augur well for the country.

Hope the Dutertes realize this sooner than later.

Duterte’s ‘perplexing’ popularity

 

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman

I am simply amused at how Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman described Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity – ‘perplexing’.

Why would it be difficult for him to understand Duterte’s popularity?

Perhaps what would be more difficult for him and those like him in the opposition to understand is why over 16 million Filipinos voted for the man from Mindanao to be president?

“It is a puzzle that despite the failure of President Rodrigo Duterte to deliver most of his campaign promises, his irreverence to established institutions, including the Catholic Church, his unpatriotic surrender to China’s expansionism in the West Philippine Sea, his policy equivocation, and his antihuman rights record, he still enjoys a high popularity rating across classes in his second year in office,” Lagman said in a statement.

What an absurdity!

This, after Duterte scored a net satisfaction rating of +56 during the first quarter of 2018, which according to Social Weather Stations survey is considered as “very good”.

Lagman even showed arrogance when he bad-mouth the intellect of the electorate, saying, “they like a leader who is authoritative even in his blunders and blabbering and that they simply want to justify their choice, however errant it may have been. ”

Excuse me?

What Lagman is actually trying to say is that Duterte does not act presidential, does not talk presidential and is, in general, an aberration to the presidency.

Lagman who pretends to be the epitome of decency in words and deeds should recognize and accept by now that the likes of him have failed to move this country forward and majority of Filipinos have lost faith in them and their style of leadership.

That is why Duterte continues to remain popular because the people like what they see in him and admire how much he cares for the country and its citizens no matter his bloody war on drugs, alleged extra-judicial killings, China’s incursion into the West Phil. Sea, and the ‘stupid-God’ comment of the Catholic religion.

Duterte has just completed his two years in office as he continues waging war also against corruption and criminality, as he has promised, and one cannot just deny that the country’s economy is doing better despite his non-presidential traits.

Perhaps what Lagman could do in his solitude is to reflect what could it have been had Poe, Roxas or Binay been the president?