So the last shall be first, and The first last; for many be called, But few chosen.
–St. Matthew’s Gospel Verse20:16 New Testament of the Holy Bible
If Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed her Certificate of Candidacy for the presidency yesterday, just in time to beat the Oct. 16 deadline, she will be the last natural-born Filipino politician to enter the race. She will round up to four the personages who will seriously contest the presidency in the May elections next year.
I was afraid that if Senator Miriam would not push through with her candidacy, we would be facing next year an election of false choices, wherein the candidates we would be compelled to choose from are all running under false pretenses; viz,
• Mar Roxas running with a hand-me-down agenda from President Aquino — the misnamed “Tuwid na Daan” (straight path) program of government – and the daunting challenge of defending on the campaign trail the appalling record of BS Aquno .
Vice President Jejomar Binay running like a Christlike figure, carrying a cross of persecution on his shoulders, and the Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales playing Pontius Pilate.
Senator Grace Poe Llamanzares running for president, as though she fulfills all the consitutional qualifications for the presidency (including being a natural-born Filipino) and possesses the even more stringent professional and intellectual requirements for the job.
With the three hobbled by a handicap, there was a chance that the field could be reduced to two candidates, or even just one.
When news finally came yesterday of Miriam’s filing her COC, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief.
Miriam, I am convinced, would bring credibility and gravitas to the 2016 election. She would force the candidates to debate the issues. And she would force Filipino voters to look for substance, not show, in the candidates.
Propelled to the front rank of contenders
There was some drama up to the end whether the lady would file her COC as she intimated earlier. There were questions about her physical fitness for even just filing her candidacy papers.
Now that her COC has been accepted and certified by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), she is officially, and for better or for worse, a candidate for president.
Now that she has chosen Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr as her running mate for the campaign and elections, she has propelled herself into the front ranks of the presidential contenders.
If their campaign comes together as planned, and rallies thousands, perhaps even millions to their cause, the Biblical promise could come to pass. Miriam, with her masteral degree in theology, may just be the type who would think that being the last to file her COC is an advantage.
A parable of equality in heaven
The Biblical passage needs explication so it’s not wantonly misunderstood and misapplied.
Jesus made the statement that “many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first” in His response to the disciples’ asking what reward they would have for giving up everything to follow Him (Matthew 19:27-30; Mark 10:28-31). He reiterated this truth in Matthew 20:16 at the end of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard. This statement is not, as many believe, a description of the reversal of earthly roles in heaven. There is no hierarchy in heaven wherein the poor and oppressed will rule over the rich and powerful when we get there. Nor will those believers who enjoy wealth and prestige on earth be somehow abased in heaven. Earthly rank will not automatically translate into heavenly rank.
When Jesus told the disciples they would be greatly rewarded in heaven for what they had given up on earth, He was making a contrast with the rich young ruler, who was unwilling to give up much of anything for Christ’s sake (verses 16-22). The “last” in this world—the disciples in their poverty—would be “first” in the kingdom of heaven. Conversely, the “first” in this world—the self-sufficient rich—would be the last to find the kingdom.
An intriguing and compelling tandem
Miriam Santiago and Bongbong Marcos as a tandem is intriguing and compelling.
Miriam will be making her third run for the presidency. Bongbong bears the burden of carrying the legacy of his father, President Ferdinand Marcos, and of restoring the family name to national respect and regard, after three decades of demonization by the dominant Yellow forces.
One media colleague, Dick Pascual of the Star, has called the Santiago-Marcos tandem “a game changer.”
It will fundamentally change the 2016 race, to the extent of even becoming the favorite to win it all.
I will go even farther. I believe a Santiago- Marcos teamup could become the antidote (or kryptonite) to the perpetration of wholesale cheating by Smartmatic in the May 2016 election. Individually , Miriam and Bongbong have their own respective constituencies and bases across the archipelago. They have strong records and credentials as leaders and public servants. If you combine the two in a strategic partnership for 2016, they can build a formidable national organization in a hurry. And they can attract the kind of funding to meet every challenge during the campaign.
The idea of an antidote to cheating came from a friend who specializes in political consulting. In his analysis, he said that President BS Aquino dreads being thrown in jail by the next administration, so he will do anything to put a friendly face in Malacañang, including stealing the election.
He said only a really formidable and popular team, who can command sufficient support from the people and police-military forces can stop this cheating scenario from happening.
If the team can command sizable national support, and attract enough muscle to back it up, they can deter any dark agenda to steal the election from them. People power will be the ultimate weapon.
I see the Santiago-Marcos tandem as one that can command popular support across the length and breadth of the archipelago, and enough muscle to preserve their victory. I think the people will not allow Miriam to be cheated of victory a second time around. It is a miracle that she is standing for election in 2016, having overcome a bout with cancer.
It is remarkable that this late in the day, we Filipinos have this formidable pair on whom to bestow the challenge of leading our nation to the 500th year of discovery and Christianization.