THE exchange of insults between Malacañang and UNA can only intensify after Vice President Jejomar C. Binay’s “take-no-prisoners” speech in Indang, Cavite on Monday. Beyond scoffing at Binay for belatedly attacking what he had uncritically supported as Aquino’s Cabinet member for five years, Malacañang will now move for his ouster, some Palace insiders have revealed. They will press the presidential electoral tribunal to resolve the five-year-old electoral protest against Binay in favor of Mar Roxas, whom President B. S. Aquino 3rd has just anointed as LP standard bearer. Binay had challenged Roxas to withdraw the protest after his anointment; the exact opposite is what could happen.
More sparks will likely fly from the Binay camp if and when Roxas forms his presidential ticket and announces PNoy’s polyamorous sister Kris Aquino as his running mate, and the boxing champion Manny Pacquiao as a senatorial candidate. These two items now seem to shake the political rumor mill and turn some heads.
Correctly or incorrectly, Kris has been touted as a secret Binay supporter, supposedly one of the reasons he had expected to be supported by PNoy in his presidential bid. All she has to do now is to survive a verbal joust with the visiting former international porn star who wants to date Kris’s bachelor brother-president. Now she is being mentioned as Mar Roxas’ possible vice presidential candidate, after Grace Poe Llamanzares has been exposed as being not a natural-born Filipino citizen as well as being stateless.
As for the boxer Pacquiao, Binay was the first to mention him as his leading senatorial bet. No party consultations, no debating credentials needed. After all, the Senate was able to survive two terms of Lito Lapid without much effect on its intelligence quotient.. Now, the LP is reportedly interested in coopting Pacquiao, after he earned several billion pesos from his last fight. This is likely to provoke an outcry from the Binay camp.
There will be no shortage of petty issues to keep the two camps at each other’s throats. And there will be no shortage either of people cheering both camps from the side. But what the nation needs and deserves is a serious debate between the presidential wannabes. The electorate needs to see what every political player wants to bring into the play: if the presidency entails problem-solving, the voters need to see that anyone who wants to be considered for the job has a fairly good grasp of the problems, and some ideas on how to solve them.
This is where the programs of government come in. Each party and each presidential candidate must have a program of government to espouse and to defend; but even better than having a program of government, each one must have a vision of the society and the nation he wants to lead. Such vision must precede the program, which must be rooted in it.
The vision must not merely try to answer specific questions about specific issues. Above all, it must provide an all-encompassing view of what the society or the nation wants to become. This involves not only day-to-day survival issues, but also transcendental issues that involve the ultimate destiny of man. It must proceed from a genuine awareness of the human condition, not simply an awareness of the partisan forces competing for political control.
Among the human institutions, the family and the Church have stood against the destructive forces; but under Aquino, the State has led the attack on these institutions. As for the political institutions, Aquino has nearly totally wrecked the presidency, the legislature, the judiciary, the police, the free press, even the labor unions. They have to be rebuilt simultaneously, not one after another, and the only way to do so is to bring in an administration led by a man with a far-seeing vision for the nation.
We need a leader who will fight for the nation’s right to become what it wants to be, and can become, not simply one who wants to be there for his ego-trip. It is not easy to find such a man, but our duty as a people is to make sure that those who offer themselves for such a role try to meet the most exacting demands. This is why we need those debates through which the candidates can share their vision for the nation of government.
Apart from Roxas, who has been anointed by PNoy as the future LP candidate, only Binay answers openly to the suggestion of being a future presidential candidate. Unless Malacañang succeeds in destroying him completely before the October deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy, Binay and Roxas will be the opposing candidates next year. But, assuming we could still hold a clean, honest and transparent election, neither of them has favored us with a hint of a vision on which to erect a much-needed program of government.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. appears to be the only one who has so far dared to share with us his vision for the nation, in at least two major forums—one before the Philippine Constitution Association and another before Asia’s CEOs. At the CEO forum, he said, “My vision of the country is one that can overcome its economic and social challenges by drawing on our own strengths and on our unity. It is a vision of the Philippines that is prosperous, rich in opportunity, and home to happy, morally upright, and productive citizens whose lives are meaningful because theirs is a just society, because theirs is a nation that has become great again.”
But Bongbong Marcos is not even a declared presidential aspirant, and refuses to make that declaration. A friend tells me that he has told Bongbong Marcos he would be committing a crime if he left the Filipino voters no other choice but Roxas or Binay. But not even that strong medicine could force him to take one step further. He’s still “keeping his options open.”
Many are praying he would make a decision soon. For the nation would be so much the poorer if at the end of the day all we are able to do is to produce “leaders” whose greatest skills lie in exchanging insults without illumination, and producing so much heat without light for a people that’s about to go blind.