THAT Senator Poe will coast to the presidency surrounded by her stars, the dollar billionaires and all the assorted political turncoats cum opportunists who have lined up behind her presidential quest is a real possibility. Poe’s coa-lition of celebrities, super wealthy and big-name politicians is about to make the ruling coalition, the Liberal Party, look like a shell, like Britain’s Labor Party during the time of Neil Kinnock.
The surge of the days-old Poe’s run has a very simple explanation.
Poe cannot attract a so broad a coalition (Aquino’s leaders are making a beeline toward Poe’s camp) without the perception that she is a winner. You know people. Rather, you know the mind-set of Filipinos, especially Filipinos who want power or those who want affinity with the powerful. For vested interests or for personal reasons, they want to be with the winner. She has leaped past the early favorite, Mr. Binay, in the polling. Mr. Roxas, the LP can-didate, does not have a ray of hope were we to base his chances on the initial polling results.
The exodus, given the sorry history of Philippine politics as one of exuberant and unabashed turncoatism, was more than expected.
She is, right now, the best positioned among the three major presidential hopefuls. That is an undisputable fact. Add to her star power the props from the Eat Bulaga group and Senator Sotto and his so-called Dabarkads, we can only see political rallies that would eclipse the crowds of Da King in 2004. What if DongYan and Ogie show up in the campaign sorties to sing and dance for the crowds? The “Dong” part of the DongYan, according to news reports, wants to be senator and intends to run with Senator Poe.
Ms. Poe’s campaign, this is the truth, is not just eminently positioned to break all campaign crowds in the country’s political history. We could just imagine crowds that would hold on until dawn to get high on celebrity-sighting bliss. We can also imagine the inspired postings on the web that would follow and in volumes that will be enough to crash the social media sites.
Her campaign will also be a fundraising juggernaut. With the crowds and the impressive polling numbers will be massive financial resources.
But then, there are lingering questions. Does the country deserve that, a walk in the park for Senator Poe ? Do we not deserve a better deal? Should she coast to the presidency without breaking a sweat? Just like that and she is president of the realm. Father in heaven what did we do as a people to deserve such breezy, no-sweat presiden-tial ascensions?
In less civilized settings, leaders have to commit mass murder to become the leader to a country of a few million people.
The answer to the questions, fortunately, is a temporal one. Our institutions have built-in mandates to make sure that Ms. Poe, no matter how popular she is, no matter how broad her support is, should not just walk breezily into the presidency.
What should be done and who has the mandate to do just that?
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should set the stage for real presidential debates and should compel mass media to air or print the debates. The debates will test the mettle of Ms. Poe, Mr. Binay and Mr. Roxas. Especially Ms. Poe since she is the leader of the pack. It would make public her ideas on the economy, on the rich-poor di-vide, on the communist insurgency, the China question, and on the mediocrity of Philippine education. Or on why over the past five years nothing has improved in the lives of more than 10 million families living in abject poverty while a fresh batch of dollar billionaires, those who-can-buy-a-small country rich, has emerged.
Why, amid all these gloating on growth and credit upgrades, more and more Filipinos have either dropped out of the labor force to sow mayhem or join the communist insurgency?
Does she have any new ideas on power and energy, upgrading the fraying infrastructure and managing the crip-pling traffic jams in the metropolis? What should be the place of the Philippines in the community of nations?
Ms. Poe should tell the nation in compelling terms her plans to end the sad and seemingly insurmountable contra-dictions in Philippine society.
The civil society people, if there is such an animal save for the poseurs and faux crusaders, have to do their bit to help make the 2016 presidential elections more of a contest of ideas and platforms than a song-and-dance routine. Mr. Sotto’s Dabarkads should not dominate the campaign conversation.
Of course, Ms. Poe can opt for the easy way and still win. In a star- struck nation, the daughter of the King and Queen of Philippine movies can just invoke her clean image and her heritage to fashion out a convincing win. The lingering question on what FPJ could have done had he been seated as president adds to the support for Senator Poe.
But opting for that painless way to victory will be like cheating and hoodwinking the voters, now stricken, sad to admit, with irrational gullibility.