Death and apology


IN the run up to 2016, two words have been often mentioned: death and apology. These two words have been cited as the reason why certain quarters do not want to support a candidate because death of a family member or a relative have been invoked for a political run while apology has not been forthcoming for some and yet when you come to think of it, almost all candidates for vice president have benefited from a family member dying and almost all presidential candidates needed to apologize, at one time or another, in their political career. There are exceptions though and let us see who are these candidates.

There are five presidential candidates: Binay, Poe, Defensor-Santiago, Roxas and Duterte. These five, at one point in their public lives, were asked to apologize for certain events and actuations in their political career. Critics were one in saying that Binay should owe up to the allegations of corruption and make a public apology for his acts of commission and omission. The Vice President chose to deal with the issue by invoking his legal rights, saying the issues should be proven in court. The Senate conducted 26 hearings over a year and a half for allegations of corrupt acts against Binay when he was a mayor. The present mayor of Makati became collateral damage.

Two constitutional requirements for a presidential candidate, natural-born Filipino citizenship and residence, were the issues raised against Poe. The same critics of Binay went to town against Poe. The same wanted Poe to apologize for duping the public on the matter. Other critics are asking her to even withdraw before the ruling becomes final for the 5-4 SET decision on her being a natural born Filipino as well as on the residency disqualification cases before the Comelec.

Critics have asked Defensor-Santiago for a medical certificate concerning her health, to which the feisty Senator invoked confidentiality of medical records and again some were saying she should apologize to the public for not being forthright.

Then Roxas has also been asked to apologize for his inability to address transportation woes when he was DOTC secretary, his actuations in Yolanda, and for not insisting on determining the truth re Mamasapano, among others.

Issues against human rights, the role of DDS in Davao and alleged battering of women are now being made against the recently substituted candidacy of Duterte. The A word has again been mentioned in all these issues.

At the vice presidential level, Marcos was again and again asked for an apology for the sins of the father.

In all these, would a public apology matter? Would voters look kindly to an elected leader if he offers a public apology? Would doing an apology give a political candidate a luster that would ensure victory? Harry Truman used to say, “carry the battle to them. Don’t let them bring it to you. Put them on the defensive and don’t ever apologize for anything” and yet PR consultants have often said, “a meaningful apology is one that communicates the three R’s–regret, responsibility, and remedy.” Should voters insist on apologies that are hollow? Are candidates better off by issuing one?

Death or necropolitics (the relationship between sovereignty and power over life and death) is said to be a big issue for some because of what happened to certain candidates who win in the polls due to a death in the family and using the said death as a fulcrum to launch a political candidacy and ultimately win the race because of the dead person. So who among the vice presidential candidate can be accused of using necropolitics? Did these candidates win because of the dead? There are 6 candidates for the vice presidency: Honasan, Escudero, Robredo, Marcos, Cayetano and Trillanes.

Honasan and Trillanes won in their first run for public office as coup plotters and from the standpoint of their military background, nothing on necropolitics. Escudero got his sit in the House of Representatives representing Sorsogon not because he was Chiz but because he was an Escudero, an old political name in the district of the father. When the father died, did his star gained brilliance?

Robredo, Marcos and Cayetano could be said as to have benefited from necropolitics. Robredo with the death of Jesse, won the 3rd district of Naga. Marcos, upon return and with the body of the late FM, ran for governor in the bailiwick of his old man. And Cayetano, hang on to Compañero, drilling it further via the Maalaala Mo Kaya endorsement to win as representative from Taguig, old name, same district. In fact, Cayetano has latched on the narrative of the late father to jumpstart the political careers of siblings. And just like BSA3, he won because of the mother’s name, some say a romanticized brand but others view it universally as democracy’s icon. That certain political names have political tails is a function of accomplishment and remembrance. That the same can be the political capital of a family member is part and parcel of strategy to get elected. Is it wrong? When abused, yes! But when used because of stand-alone strengths, it is fair game. Cayetano, Marcos and Robredo won first, at the local level. Rightly so, they used the name they inherited to secure a public office but beyond the name, they have tried to shape their own respective public careers cognizant of the names they have and making sure apart from the name, there were and are accomplishments that guaranteed their success on the political ladder.

Death may define a candidate and could even make one win and be president. But beyond death is a public record that can be scrutinized by the living and from which measurement can be made. Apology? Aaah, that can be propaganda, alarming if readily given; useful to contrast but wouldn’t it be much better if measured by sincere action than cheap words?


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  1. Death utilized as political capital is what should be feared, not mere death of a family member as death is inevitable as taxes as the cliche goes. These names you mentioned belong to political dynasties so their capital is their dynastic legacy, never mind some people’s opinion of that legacy, and not the mere death of a member. On the other hand, would Cory have become president if Ninoy was not assassinated? Would Boy Sayad have become president if he had not used his mother’s death to gain manufactured sympathy “massive enough to propel him to power” through the use of the yellow media and SWS and Smartmatic? As a matter of fact, would Ninoy have become a serious presidentiable before martial law if Plaza Miranda had not happened? The Aquino family has used death as political capital for three generations, the only political family who have ever done so. As a footnote, both Ninoy and Cory were buried at night. Real heroes are buried at high noon. Only the evil forces of darkness like vampires are buried at night. Get it?