Poe ponders the presidency

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This article is written with the view that Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares aims to leave a legacy of integrity and good governance during her years of public service. This writer takes that perspective on the word of a former classmate, a Jesuit priest who taught Poe at Boston College.

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While many consider Poe a neophyte who lacks expertise and experience to rule the country, it is right for her to seriously ponder how best to respond to the high regard toward her among Filipinos, as seen in voter surveys. And precisely because of that public trust and confidence, it behooves her to think beyond political calculations toward what’s best for the nation’s future.

That may not be what she often hears these days from would-be advisers and allies. Quite a few probably argue that she should run for president in 2016, because things may drastically change in subsequent years. Others say that Poe owes it to her adoptive father, the late superstar Fernando Poe Jr., to vindicate FPJ by winning the presidency which he could not, allegedly due to fraud.

As for campaign finances and organization, there would be no shortage of assurances that money and machinery will come as the senator’s ratings surge. And the best indication that ratings will attract resources is President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s overture to run as a candidate of the dominant Liberal Party.

Three questions for Grace
All these points may be valid, but none of them address what should be the primary consideration for Poe, assuming she is the kind of person described in the opening paragraph: What’s best for the country?

And to answer that question in the context of her possible candidacy, Poe should address two other queries:

Is she qualified under the Constitution for the positions she is considering?

What are her positions on major issues, and her big programs for national advancement?

The first question is for the Commission on Elections and, if elevated to it, the Supreme Court to decide, and only after Poe files a certificate of candidacy for president or vice president. Ensuring that legal requirements are followed which is indispensable to the rule of law, which, in turn, is essential to integrity, stability and progress.

Poe would, of course, need sound and, more important, impartial legal advice now on her eligibility. And the arguments of those who favor or oppose her candidacy should be taken with a good helping of sodium chloride. Bottom line: Put the matter in the hands of the Comelec and the Supreme Court. That is best for the nation.

What’s the plan for the nation?

Question No. 2 is really asking two things: Does a candidate have a solid, credible plan for governance and progress? And is he or she capable of formulating, advocating, and implementing it?

A seasoned, competent politician with no sound program of government has nothing to offer the nation. But a great plan would only generate unrealistic expectations for a leader lacking in the knowledge and capability to deliver.

Poe has to truthfully ascertain if she has the breadth and depth of knowledge regarding major national concerns, and formulating her program of government is one way to gauge the level of her governance expertise and experience.

Months ago, when talk of her candidacy first emerged, the senator expressed reluctance, citing her limited years in government. Since then, those who favor her candidacy may have made the case that there would be expert advisers aplenty to help craft and implement policies and programs.

But advisers are not elected by the people or accountable to them. Hence, a government in which the chosen leader lets his team of experts shape policy which he cannot adequately understand, may be undermining the electorate’s will to be governed by their elected president, not his think tank. Not to mention the very real possibility that trusted advisers may craft programs and projects for private gain.

So in deciding whether to run, one should ask the question that then VP Noli de Castro raised when people were urging him to run for president: What if I win?

Kabayan was, in fact, quite knowledgeable about public affairs, from decades in media and years in the Senate. And having seen him run Cabinet meetings in the absence of then President Gloria Arroyo, this former Secretary of the Cabinet can say that he was competent in governance, no doubt learning much from frequent Cabinet meetings.

But De Castro knew his limits, and for the sake of the nation, so should anyone aspiring for the highest offices in the land. For 2016, let those seeking national office ask themselves if they would competently handle such issues as the Bangsamoro Agreement and Basic Law; South China Sea tensions; the best policies for growth, competitiveness and jobs; and record crime and corruption (yes, both are worse than ever, with smuggling, pork barrel, malversation, and crime incidence 2 to 5 times pre-Aquino levels).

The vice-presidential option
A further question all candidates ask is whether they have the money, mass appeal, and machinery to win. But that’s not a question for Poe and her trusted ally Senator Francis Escudero: they have admitted that they lack the resources and nationwide political network for a presidential campaign.

And while political parties, big business interests, and major sectors may support Poe, that rarely comes without strings. So she must ask herself if building needed funds, political and media backing, and grassroots organization may compromise too much her agenda for the nation.

On the other hand, running for vice president, Poe would seem to be so far ahead that she could win with far less resources and political backing. Indeed, she could even run as an independent, maybe adopted by rival presidential candidates keen to have her join their sorties.

As VP, Poe will have six years not only to raise her governance knowledge and experience, but also build her own base of political and material support. How she could do that would be discussed on Thursday.

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13 Comments

  1. Si Poe ay ambisyosa,pakiramdam niya siya ay sugo!kahit kulang sa kaalaman,alam niya nariyan si chiz upang magpatakbo sa lahat ng bagay na hindi niya nalalaman,ang importante mabigyan niya ng hustisya si FPJ!ala Aquino!ang utak niya!dalawa ang magiging pangulo kapagnanalo si Poe at chiz,isama mo pa diyan si Aquino!

  2. Pwede may tama po kayo Mr. Saludo, pero iilan na lang ngayon ang pwedeng pagkatiwalaan ng pera ng bayan, isa na si Grace Poe. But I rather choose her than evil Binay. Eh kung si Binay maging presidente gusto mo?

  3. Amnata Pundit on

    It is understandable that there are forces pushing for Mar Roxas as president for many obvious reasons, one of which is that he is the only real princeling of the LP ( Lapiang Palpak) being the founder”s grandson (Boy Sayad’s father Ninoy Aquino was originally a Nacionalista), not to mention the many things that BS has made him swallow that will otherwise repel a normal human being (you can bet the farm that Mar knows how to get back at Boy Sayad). BS has to handle him correctly because there are real, visible forces behind Roxas. The question is who are the forces behind Grace Poe that Boy Sayad has to placate besides the poll survey outfits of SWS and Pulse Asia? Who are they and where are they? Like God, “The real power is the one you don’t see.” Get it?

  4. Someone should file a criminal case against Llamanzares. She has does not have the qualifications in terms of residency and citizenship to seat as a senator yet she still occupies the position.

    • not only she is not qualified to be a senator, she was not qualified, being an american, when she held the position of chair of mtcrb. she committed a crime by performing a job only filipinos can have.

  5. Thank you Mr. Saludo, you are the first columnist that wrote a very factual annalysis about the candidacy of Mrs. Poe-Llamanzares, if and if ever she decides to run for presidency. To be honest, I am an avid Grace Poe-Llamanzares supporter, to the point that I was ready to give my one month’s pension for her campaign kitty. With the way you presented the facts without a hint bias, it made me wake-up to the truth and reality. Thank you Mr. Saludo.

  6. allen llamar on

    Don`t worry that citizenship thing about her will hound her soon, I think Mr. Binays` party are just letting her enjoy the moment of being in front of the camera flaunting her plan for the highest office of the land.
    Once the campaigning starts, it would be unfair to let her run for the highest office by the SC when her citizenship is questionable yet. is any one advising Ms. Poe about this, or her sipsips are salivating to be in the malacanan, think it 3x people you might just be disappointed. You might end up the Barangay hall only.

  7. what do cory, noynoy and grace have in common? when they were egged to run for the presidency, they claimed that they are not corrupt, will not steal, they have integrity, they are sincere, and they possess other good traits.

    BUT they did not say anything about their platform or program of government.

    can grace identify the provinces that badly need good infrastructure?

    can grace identify what industries the Philippines needs in order to give employment to Filipinos? car industry, steel industry, etc?

    can grace answer what the next Philippine president needs to do in order to slowly lead the country to be a newly industrialized country?

    how many thousands of affordable houses does she intend to build in her first two years of office if she becomes president?

    presently Grace is contributing to Filipino unemployment. how? we heard that her staffers resign due to some personal reason. shouldn’t it be a privilege working for Grace Poe and shouldn’t her employees be proud of that? why do they leave Grace, if it’s true.

  8. Johnny Ramos on

    If ever Grace Poe runs and the SC will not rule on her citizenship before the campaign starts, expect the Panatang Makabayan will be the campaign slogan against
    Grace Poe. This will really kill the momentum of Grace Poe and no amount of promises can erase this in minds of the masses. The 3 years work experience of Grace Poe could her down especially against Binay. How can Grace hit Binay when he was the campaign manager of FPJ in 2004? If only Grace Poe run using Llamansares can she win? This country will never elect an American as President.

  9. Felimon A. Soria on

    So called pollsters jacking up her popularity since she is related to one, and an adviser with a glib tongue after a shot of whiskey (I read it in one of the columns here that he drinks and also read it before his marriage to an actress) what more can we ask for?

  10. To “build her own base of political and material support.” This is a reality, the need to build the base of political and material support.

    On the other hand, if this is what a politician has to rely only, it also implies a politicized bureaucracy by which a president depends for the execution of his/her policies or executive orders. An independent bureaucracy is something the Philippines does not have. This one is an overlooked factor that perpetuate corruption in the government. A president that is hampered by the internal bureaucratic subversion of the his/ her initiatives is equally helpless since this this bureaucratic culture of patronage sustains it from being impartial and apolitical.
    The focus on the choice of leader is necessary, but the building of an impartial and apolitical bureaucracy is equally important. It would be naive to think that this kind of bureaucracy will emerge in one presidential term. The Philippines needs to build it for a stable and dependable democracy concerned for everyone, not just the pockets of those who are in power.