President Aquino, in his Naga City Independence Day speech, was very specific —emphatic even—on who the post-Aquino president should not be. His own words
• Hindi natin kailangan ng magaling na bumigkas ng script
• Hindi natin kailangan ang mahusay sumayaw
• O kaya magaling kumanta
That broad swipe covered almost the whole of the entertainment sector, including his next of kin and allies from the sector. Acting, singing, dancing. A broader interpretation would cover talking heads on TV, those intelligent-sounding, amazingly-paid heads who live off the scripts written by low caste writers. Some of the pet peeves of the President are, indeed, big-voiced, permed-haired TV talking heads, who, left on their own, could hardly compose one coherent TV spiel.
The context of that Naga City speech was what he perceives as the tight grip of immensely popular entertainers over elective offices, plus his nightmarish dreams that an entertainer would succeed him in office. The boldness and the newness of his statements – earlier leaders would rather coopt than alienate entertainers – got the notice and approval of foreign pundits. William Pesek of Bloomberg, for one, gushed over the supposed daring of Mr. Aquino.
But this is the sad thing: For all the boldness of the statement, nothing would change the predisposition of Filipino voters to support entertainers with political ambitions, be it at the local or national level.
How thunderous the welcome would be to, say, a declaration from Ati Vi (Vilma Santos, the governor of Batangas and wife of Senator Recto) that she is interested in the 2016 presidential election? This is the most plausible scenario. Vilmanians across all regions and religions would retrieve their old scrapbooks and proclaim their undying support for the “Star for all Seasons.”
They will spend their own money, do their own social networking campaign, and cajole friends and next of kin to join the movement to make the “Star for All Seasons” president of the realm. They might even call on their old nemesis—the Noranians—to join the Ati Vi for President Movement.
If there is one undying love affair that the Filipino would not part with, it is his eternal fealty to screen heroes and the famous denizens of the entertainment sector.
Mr. Aquino’s take on entertainers in politics, bold and refreshing as it was, would find no traction among the electorate. On several fronts as well, that bold statement was utterly useless and unnecessary.
Mr. Aquino’s anti-artista outburst was a direct reaction to two entertainers-senators who have been challenging him of late in oftentimes mocking tones. But what do you expect from them? Bong Revilla and Jinggoy Estrada, now with plunder cases at the Sandiganbayan, have their careers, their future—and even freedom— on the line and the angry, taunting words are the only ones they can hurl at the President.
These are two desperate men, whose lives in the reel world have shielded them from the worries and travails of the ordinary man, from the harsh realities of life even. Now, they have to face the cruel music—and the possibility of spending life behind bars. Lost, clueless and just exposed to the realities of the real world, what do you expect them to do? Praise the justice system and welcome their possible incarceration?
By reacting to Jinggoy and Bong in dismissive tones, President Aquino did an overkill. Kicking the beaten is not us. While we rejoice over the fact that Bong and Jinggoy would no longer be our next president and vice president, while we are relieved that they will face the justice system, the President’s sweeping outburst against the craft that made the two senators famous and popular and wealthy was an overkill.
President Aquino probably had this hope that his anti-artista tirade would enhance his LP candidate in 2016—and help sway voters to reject vacuous entertainers and celebrities who might run for president against his chosen one. Nice try but the voters would say, we can’t vote for your dour-faced apparatchik either.
If the LP fields a dry, tantrum-prone functionary as its presidential candidate, the lack of soul beneath the veneer of competence and efficiency would be seen through by the electorate. President Aquino is wrong to even think that his 2010 victory was the voters’ preference for technocracy. It was the high drama and nostalgia generated by his mother’s death, a revered former president, that made the voters mark Mr. Aquino’s name on the ballot.
In 2010 voters had no clue on who Mr. Aquino was but still voted for him for continuity’s sake. His father was felled by assassins. His mother died without being given the full chance to rule by putschists. In memory of the two, the voters suspended all doubts and voted for the son. That was how Mr. Aquino ascended to the presidency.
Here is the formula that will end Mr. Aquino’s seemingly eternal anguish on who will succeed him as president. Pick somebody like Bong or Jinggoy. Swaggering and charismatic. Capable of raising a thousand shriek and sigh at every political rally. Just say he is an honest version of the two. That a Jinggoy or Bong clone with integrity, this is for sure, would win via a landslide.
The problem is there is no such charismatic character in the current gallery of LP presidential hopefuls.