Sen. Grace Poe has just unleashed the B in her.
Banish the malicious thought, it is not what you think it is.
In the second round of the presidential debates held in Cebu City last month, the usually affable and phlegmatic independent presidential candidate seemed to have darkened the day of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who arguably is her closest rival for the country’s highest post.
In a testy exchange over allegedly dubious citizenship and alleged corruption, Poe told Binay off, “Dito ka nga nakatira sa bansa pero nangulimbat ka naman [Yes you live here but you stole money from the people].”
Come now, but “nangulimbat” is a big and cruel Filipino word that is seldom uttered, if at all, especially by women.
In, well, polite society, the preferred but equally hurtful term is “nagnakaw” and for Poe to also say it is to unmask her as a lumpen, a wretched of the earth.
But, apparently, she may have decided to stop being overly nice and so she dropped the bomb.
The Vice President had been trying to fend off, with apparent little luck, accusations of graft from at least two other politically ambitious senators, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes 4th.
In the Cebu City leg of the debate, Binay had questioned the senator’s right to be called a genuine citizen of the Philippines, saying, “Lagi mong sinasabi na ikaw ay tunay na Pilipino. Paano ka magiging tunay na Pilipino e sumumpa ka na maging Amerikano [You always say that you are a true Filipino. How can you be a true Filipino when you took an oath to be American]?”
He segued into a veiled two-pronged attack on her Filipino heritage and the personal circumstances of her birth, “Kinahihiya mo pinanggalingan mo [You are ashamed of where you came from].”
A foundling, Poe did take an oath to be an American and called Boston her home until 2010 when she returned to the Philippines and accepted an offer from President Benigno Aquino 3rd to head the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board after renouncing her US citizenship.
In confronting the Vice President and over live television at that, the senator seemed to have succeeded in giving the impression that she is her own man, rather woman, and that she can take on anyone without invoking the name of her famous and respected adoptive parents–Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ and Susan Roces–or billing herself as a member of the “fairer sex” who should therefore be treated gingerly, thanks but no thanks.
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and Poe evidently will take no prisoners, “presidentiable” or not, beyond Cebu City.
She probably will but not personally to disabuse the mind of those expecting her to be the reincarnation of Joan of Arc, Gabriel Silang or even Wonder Woman when she “replaces” Aquino in June this year.
Also in the second round of the presidential debates, Poe mustered the audacity to float the name of retired general Ariel Querubin as her anti-crime czar if she wins the race to Malacañang in the May 2016 elections.
In these parts, it is still “unwomanly” for a woman to be too sure of what she wants to have or do and Poe’s perspicacity courts political trouble for her.
Still, she mentioned Querubin’s name apparently to spite Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is regarded as another serious contender to be the nation’s next leader, but who seemed to be under the delusion that fighting crime and criminals is a one-man job, with a little dash of Dirty Harry thrown in.
Many view Duterte as a blabbermouth who talks tough and Poe had seized on this rather contradictory combination made surreal by the Davao City mayor’s boast that he would rid the Philippines of criminals and other menaces in three to six months if he was given the chance to be President.
Querubin, a Medal of Valor awardee, is credited for the neutralization of Abu Sabaya, a leader of the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group, and for the rescue of Fr. Cirilo Nacorda, both in 1994.
He protested alleged fraud in the 2004 polls that he said had cost FPJ the presidential race, which was won by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Qureubin, who got more than one and a half years in Arroyo’s jail for taking the cudgels for the opposition, was later pardoned by President Aquino.
Clearly, the Poes owe him one and, apparently, Grace is not shirking from it, even if she opens herself up to criticisms that she is planning to use the presidency as a channel for conveying utang na loob (gratitude).
The B word is beginning to suit her and she is already wearing it well this early.
The same word, incidentally, can apply to Duterte but it is not the one that you are probably thinking of right now.