I NEVER liked the idea of Grace Poe running for President in 2016 – it seems too early, she seems too unprepared. There’s just too little she’s done for any of us to decide that she is worthy. Yes, she might not be corrupt, but neither is the current President.
That hasn’t gotten us very far, has it?
An aside: this is not to say I know who I’m voting for, or if I’m voting at all. Jejomar Binay is pro-ChaCha and pro-mining; Mar Roxas will continue Matuwid Na Daan even as we’ve proven the mess that it is; Rodrigo Duterte takes pride in the human rights abuses he has committed in Davao; Miriam Defensor-Santiago seems too sick to deserve my vote. And then there is Poe.
Fact and spin
Now that the questions about her citizenship and residency are haunting her campaign, one can’t help but wonder why this isn’t enough of a sign for Poe to actually think of a graceful exit. She could then spend another six years in the Senate (for sure she will win in the next Senatorial elections anyway) to change that part of the Constitution that disallows her from running at this point in time.
Then when she runs in 2022, no one can say she has not put in the work, no one can say she has not earned her stripes, no one can say it’s too much too soon, too PNoy.
The fact is that Poe’s papers are a mess, and the stories about her adoption by Susan Roces and Fernando Poe Jr., multiple. None of this helps her case, especially since the law is clear on this one.
A person who is not a natural born citizen, i.e., whose parents are not proven to be Filipino citizens, cannot run for president. The specific narrative that surrounds Poe’s adoption by Roces and FPJ, the urban legends and the “real” stories, keeps her from being treated as natural born – because there’s no clear sense of who her parents are, and whether or not they are even Filipinos.
Neither does it help Poe’s case that she has two different birth certificates: one that says she’s a foundling, and another that says she is the daughter of Roces and FPJ. Any other citizen with different data on their papers, or with two different birth certificates in circulation, would be given hell by our institutions – government and otherwise.
The spin that Poe’s camp has used is the idea that she – and therefore all adopted children – are being marginalized by the system. That is true, but it is the law. To insist that she should be allowed to run regardless, and allow people to choose, just makes it a recipe for disaster later on: it will be so easy to unseat her since the law ain’t on her side.
Fact: Poe is already in the position to change that system from within, change that law while she’s senator, so that in 2022, she can run for president. No questions about her residency, no questions about her citizenship, her birth certificates fixed, her parentage proven to be Filipino.
Like love, may tamang panahon ang pagtakbo para presidente. Poe and her supporters should see the writing on the wall.
What confuses me even more is the fact that the Left who stand behind Poe are the ones who insist that she should be allowed to run, the law notwithstanding, let the people choose.
I have high respect for many in the Left, but this rhetoric confuses me because it is also the militant Left organizations who fall back on the law and the Constitution at any given time, when it is most convenient, when it is about the struggle for people’s rights. It is from the Left that I learned to look at what is said on paper, and who is responsible for the protection of and service to citizens.
And then to handle Poe’s PR the way we have seen the Liberal Party handle theirs – that just confuses me even more. Where in the midst of these very valid concerns over Poe’s citizenship, and the insistence that we ignore the law, what we are being treated to is the celebratory pats on Poe’s back, for her recently articulated stance against the contractualization of labor, and in favor of tax reform.
It seems to be too little too late, doesn’t it? All the other presidentiables (save for Mar Roxas) have taken the same stand. It is far from being new, far from making Poe the right choice.
What it reveals too at this point in time is that these soundbites are being used as a distraction, from the bigger more important issue that hounds Poe’s campaign.
The strategy is so Liberal Party that it hurts me to watch Poe and her supporters using it. Because I trust that they are also more intelligent than this, that they must know that the law is clear, and there are no ifs and buts about it: Poe is not qualified to run for president at this point in time.
Nor does the display of feistiness and daring really work at this point, because what it shows us all is how defensive Poe has become, how bratty (and I daresay, very PNoy!) dismissing the disqualification cases to be a matter of her rivals, namely Liberal Party’s Roxas and UNA’s Binay, messing with her candidacy. Pointing out that they have much to gain from her disqualification.
But actually we have much to gain from her graceful exit. She would prove to be a class act, conceding to what the Constitution says, and vowing that she will work on changing that law in her next six years in the Senate. We have much to gain, if we were allowed to watch Senator Poe come into her own, in equal parts feisty and intelligent, fighting for the causes that she had taken a stand for during her proclamation speech. That would make 2022 the presidential election to look forward to.
And 2016? Well. Chiz Escudero could replace Poe as standard bearer of their Partido Pilipinas, and then it would be a four-men-and-a-woman race, where all of them are on equal footing, with years of service and credentials to boot, and it would then truly be a race, beyond the surveys and the press releases.
If Poe had the sense to exit gracefully, she would be giving us all an election worth thinking about, and participating in. Instead of a moro-moro where we are forced to choose among the lesser of evils.