In this land of endless farce, the impending vice presidential race threatens to become as absurd and insane as the impending presidential one.
For the presidency, Grace Poe Llamanzares is apparently still bent on running, despite her not being a natural-born Filipino and therefore not eligible for the office, and the increasing number of people who are beginning to see through her allegedly high “popularity” rating.
For his part, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is reported to have had a change of heart after earlier renouncing any plan to run. As some critics put it, he is the only who seems to believe he could solve crime with crime, and many Filipinos who are sick and tired of everything that has fallen apart under PNoy are strangely attracted to it.
These are but a few of the absurdities in the presidential race. Similar insanities, however, have not spared the vice presidential contest.
Before Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig weighed in, the announced vice presidential aspirants and possible nominees were all from the Bicol region—-Bicolanos. Sen. Francis Escudero is from Sorsogon; Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, although born and raised in Caloocan City, has his roots in Ligao, Albay, where his father comes from; Rep. Leni Robredo is from Naga City, Camarines Sur; Sen. Gregorio Honasan, like Escudero, is from Sorsogon.
Escudero will team up with Mrs. Llamanzares if the CEO of one particular conglomerate and the paid propaganda surveys succeed in blotting out the natural-born citizenship requirement of presidential candidates. Otherwise Escudero could be shooting for bigger game or punching above his weight if Mary Grace is eventually disqualified for not being a natural-born Filipino, as he may have foreseen at the outset.
The ambitious and antagonistic Trilllanes seems bent on running as an independent even without a presidential standard bearer. This is worse than flying solo on a single-engine plane in turbulent weather across the Pacific in this supersonic jet age.
Honasan, the senior Bicolano in the Senate, is reportedly being eyed as a possible running mate by Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, if the latter fails to convince Sen. Bongbong Marcos, whom many Ilocanos would still like to see join the presidential race. Neither party, however, has confirmed this.
Finally, both President B. S. Aquino 3rd and LP presidential nominee Mar Roxas are still working on Mrs. Robredo to become the latter’s running mate. Is she simply playing the girl who refuses to be kissed on first date, or is she doing it to gain propaganda mileage? Those who claim to be in the know say she has agreed to run for all intents and purposes, and many Bicolanos are genuinely thrilled at the prospect. Even if they may not go for Mar Roxas, she provides a good excuse to bypass the candidacy of Francis Escudero, whom many Bicolanos cannot seem to support for reasons they cannot even articulate.
This absurd situation has spawned a few funny questions from the public.
One, Does one have to be a Bicolano to run for Vice President?
Two, Will the Bicolanos be the only ones to vote for the Vice President?
Three, Is there no natural-born Bicolano qualified and willing to run for President?
Cayetano’s joining the fray answers the first question. No, even non-Bicolanos can run for vice president.
But Cayetano’s entry dramatizes a greater absurdity common to the vice-presidential wannabes, namely, that you pick yourself for the job, even without being asked by anyone running for president.
Cayetano flew to Davao, ostensibly to meet with Duterte whom some people who have the wrong ideas about strong leadership and moral courage are trying to persuade to run despite his earlier statement. But even before he could sit down with the Davao toughie and before we heard anything from him, Cayetano proclaimed he was running for vice-president! Hello!
Aside from Mrs. Robredo, and possibly Bongbong Marcos and Gringo Honasan, who have not formally entered the race, all of them are self-nominated, and dying to run even without a presidential standard bearer.
Only Escudero appears to have done the rest of them one better by packaging Mrs. Llamanzares as his presidential candidate, even though he might have known all along, on the basis of the flawed documentary evidence his lawyers had supplied the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), that she is constitutionally ineligible for the office.
This could be the reason why instead of Mrs. Llamanzares announcing him as her intended running mate during her launch at Bahay Alumni, University of the Philippines, he announced his own bid himself, on a separate occasion, one day after she did hers.
This is unheard of in mature and more politically developed societies.
In the United States, where the presidential system seems to be working as well as it is in Rotary Clubs and in foreign chambers of commerce, an independent vice presidential candidate, or one who announces himself for the job without being asked by a presidential candidate, would be laughed off the stage as a joke or as a jerk. No sensible donor would contribute to his kitty, and he would be ridiculed by the media, and ignored by the voters themselves. So the whole thing would self-destruct even before it takes off; it would fail even as a fund-raising political exercise.
Not here though. Here, we seem to be too willing and eager to be played for fools. The inmates have already taken over the asylum, but everything is still a show, and we are all enjoying it. The most bizarre things have become the new normal, and some of us are crazy enough to believe the best possible results could still come from it.
Sen. Cynthia Villar of the Nacionalista Party says her party is not fielding a presidential or vice presidential candidate, but three NP members are running for vice president in three different places. Cayetano wants to run with Duterte under whatever party he may choose to run; Trillanes will be flying solo, since no presidential candidate seems likely to touch him; and Bongbong Marcos could end up with Binay, if he decides to run for the second highest position instead of aiming for the top, as demanded by many Ilocanos. No serious political party can take pride in anything as confused as this, but Mrs. Villar reveals it without any embarrassment.
And the most puffed-up self-proclaimed bets remain unvetted. Perhaps only one or two are suspected of having the same psychological and psychiatric problems PNoy was suspected of when he ran for president in 2010. But some of them are generally perceived to be so amoral that you may not be able to tell your friends you knew them to be “persons of good moral character.” Nevertheless, there has been no vetting of these potential candidates. Nor have they tried to acquit themselves of the most serious charges of wrongdoing during their official watch.
Now that the Ombudsman has initiated the preliminary investigation of the previously untouchable Budget Secretary Florencio Abad in connection with the manipulation and misuse of the P150-billion Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), which the Supreme Court has struck down as unconstitutional, the senator-judges who had each received P50 million or more from said DAP in order to convict and remove Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona should first clear themselves of any criminal accountability before running for vice president or any office.
These include Escudero who received P98 million, Cayetano and Trillanes who each received P50 million more or less; and the senators seeking reelection, beginning with Senate President Frank Drilon, who received the biggest chunk—-P100 million.
It would be unforgivably insane if all these people were allowed to run again for high office——and win again, by virtue of the PCOS machine——as though this crime never happened.
One other insanity (affecting the senatorial race this time) has to do with the potential candidacy of members of political dynasties which are already represented in the 24-member Senate. The LP is said to be considering Rep. Mark Villar for its senatorial slate, despite the fact that his family controls the NP, and his mother Cynthia already sits in the Senate until 2019.
Persistent rumors also suggest that one Lino Cayetano intends to run for the Senate while his brother Alan runs for vice president and their senator-sister Pia is termed out. Lino is supposed to be rating high in the paid surveys, even though he is not known to many outside of Taguig. If he runs and is machine-elected, while Alan loses as vice president, there would be two Cayetanos, with probably two Villars also, in the tiny Senate. And they are not even among the best and the brightest of Filipinos.
Binay has promised to lead people power if he is cheated. Well, the cheating has already begun. It’s time to lead the action against it.