OPENING the morning papers yesterday and drowned again by a tsunami of stories on Grace Poe’s candidacy for President, I was moved to exclaim:
WHAT!!!!! Will this argument over Sen. Grace Poe’s candidacy stretch out to the crack of doom? Are we fated to go on reading the press statements, pro and contra, of lawyers and politicians, until we are so sick of the lady, that we will wish she was never found?
Is this contention the kind where no one, per an old saying, must ever be allowed the last word – because it started from a deception and a lie?
When obstinacy is immaturity
Is the right of a Filipino citizen to run for public office, a human right that is as fundamental as, say, freedom of speech and religion, that even government may not interfere or regulate it?
If it is such, why is it not named in our Constitution’s bill of rights?
It is clear that Senator Poe, her lawyers, spokesman, her financial backers and her supporters – in their naivete, ignorance or lust for power – construe this civil right in absolute terms, so much so that they threaten to mount demonstrations, disrupt the elections, in order to enforce Ms. Poe’s right to run for President.
It does not trouble them at all that Ms. Poe, whose citizenship and identity are heavily in doubt, is imposing serious demands on the government and the public treasury, in a way that bona fide natural-born citizens would not do.
What is so sterling about Ms. Poe’s executive credentials, her personal attributes, or her proposed program of government, that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should reserve a place for her in the ballot (despite nullification of her certificate of candidacy by two divisions of the election body), and that every Filipino voter must absolutely be given the chance to choose her for president?
Why should the authorities give credence to the new ploy of Ms. Poe’s camp that another lead to the identity of her biological parents is being tested for a DNA match for a period of four weeks?
Who, except Ms. Poe’s campaign managers, lawyers and publicists, really believes that the legal argument on Ms. Poe’s citizenship can still be won after the decision of two Comelec divisions, and the unequivocal opinions of three SC justices in the SET case?
When does this obstinacy to stay on as a candidate, become plain and simple political immaturity and silliness?
What precludes the possibility that behind the herculean effort to delay the resolution of this case, some unseen brokers are working on the Comelec commissioners and SC justices to secure a manipulated verdict for Ms. Poe?
Ironically, I had resolved over the weekend that in the spirit of the season and as a gesture of good will toward Senator Poe and her family, I will desist from writing for a spell on her legal and political predicament, until the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Supreme Court have each rendered their verdicts and together write finis to this endless disputation.
While reviewing my columns during the last half of the year, I was startled to find that I had devoted some five or six columns to the subject of Senator Poe and her case. It troubled me that this had taken me away from other topics and issues that on balance are of far greater import and deserve preferential attention. I was concerned in particular about other aspects of the 2016 elections that were not being discussed enough in the public arena and to which I might contribute more productively.
I resolved to set aside a fresh piece of research on the legal aspects of Ms. Poe’s case, until such a time when our election commissioners and learned justices will require reinforcements.
I thought it would be unChristmassy to say that what Ms. Poe and her camp is doing with the vox populi argument is “democratic heresy,” to cite the term used by lady Margaret Thatcher on an analogous question in England. I thought it would not be fair to berate them for rousing former President Fidel V. Ramos from bed to make him serve as amicus curiae on her behalf.
Rising to insult and old age
Also in the spirit of the season, I thought of laying off from Mayor Duterte and his mock-heroic dustup with Mar Roxas.
I resolved to stay away from the Roxas-Duterte controversy, even though I have a plausible reason for wading in.
I actually was the first to raise a query on Mar’s Wharton credentials in the media, and I wrote about what I had learned in this column.
In December 2013, in dismay over Mar Roxas’s boorish handling of the Haiyan/Yolanda disaster in my home province of Leyte, and in anticipation of his anointment as BS Aquino’s presidential candidate in the 2016 election, I placed a request with a cousin, who resides in the US and is a genuine Wharton MBA graduate, for a check on Mar’s background in the prestigious business school.
I got a report in short order. In a column published on Dec. 12,2013 (“A Crisis of Competence: Lead, follow, or get out of the way”), I put in this brief note:
“Roxas – no training as manager
“One Filipino living in the US – a native Leyteno and a Wharton MBA alumnus – has reported to me that contrary to the official and popular impression here, Mar Roxas is not an MBA alumnus of Wharton, like, say, Manuel Pangilinan of PLDT and Jose Cuisia in our embassy in Washington, D.C.
“A Wharton professor remembers Roxas as an undergraduate in the school. Roxas got an undergraduate degree in economics. He did not return to Wharton to get an MBA degree.
“This shows that Roxas does not have the professional training for professional management and executive leadership.
“Like his boss BS Aquino, he has only a bachelor’s degree in economics.”
Mar and his staff evidently never saw my column. He made no effort to dispel any misimpression that he had a Wharton MBA, unless we credit non-performance in top Cabinet posts as such.
Given what I know, I could have attested to Mar’s Wharton credentials (albeit undergraduate), but I was too late to join the fray. In a flash, the slapfest turned into a challenge to fisticuffs, and then to a gun duel.
To Mar’s credit, he rose to the insult. Duterte rose to his old age.
They have agreed to a debate instead.
Return to reason and sobriety
As a final note, I believe we can enforce reason and sobriety in the 2016 presidential race, if we ask each candidate to present a screed on why it is vital for our country and our people to have their services as President of the republic.
We should demand that they sit at least for one interview by experts to explain their obsessive courtship of our highest office, and the dowry that they offer in return.
And we should tell them unequivocally that election as President will not entitle them to unlimited access to the public treasury, their appointment of just anyone to plum posts in government, and the enthronement of their relatives and friends.