The presidency is not an entry-level job

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Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares shares this absurd fantasy with her Senate defenders, her lawyers and legal advocates, her financial backers, her political allies and her mass of supporters: they all look at the Philippine presidency as an entry-level job, a first-stop for a career in politics.

Instead of a lofty view of the highest office of the land, what they offer is “a worm’s eye view” of the presidency – of the leadership that it must provide our nation of 100 million, of the enormous challenges that it must surmount in these times of uncertainty in our country, our region and in the world.

It has not occurred to them that Malacañang is not just an official residence, but a real job, in which many personages of considerable merit have faltered and reached their level of incompetence.

To the contrary, they imagine that a complete novice, with sufficient popularity and enough money, can win the presidency and succeed at the job. They see it as an entry-level job, no more difficult than filling a position in a department store, a bank or a government agency.


In organizations, an entry-level job is the first job that a new trainee or graduate takes upon completion of a training or degree program. Entry level in this sense refers to the entry point into a specific chosen profession.

Can the presidency be approached in this way? Can we entrust this highest office within our gift to a person with no executive experience, no particular education of note, and no noticeable support from a notable political party that may be expected to provide the support needed to succeed at the job?

Pedestrian, shocking and embarrassing verdict
I started asking these questions after the Senate Electoral Tribunal handed down its ruling on the disqualification case against Ms Poe, saying that as a foundling she is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines and is therefore qualified not only to keep her seat in the Senate, but, by implication, to also run for president.

My query turned into alarm after I spent an entire day literally reading the majority opinion and the motley set of dissenting and concurring opinions in the tribunal’s decision.

I was shocked by the utterly pedestrian language and arguments of the majority opinion, whose authorship has been understandably concealed.

I was awed by the weighty and persuasive opinions of the three SC justices in the tribunal who dissented from the majority opinion.

Lastly, I was embarrassed by the inanity and sentimentality of the opinions submitted by four senator-members, whose votes decisively shifted the tribunal toward a vote in favor of Ms. Poe.

By saying in the ruling that they seek to uphold the rights of foundlings in this country, the senators virtually made law, judged the case not on its legal merits but according to political calculation.

They offered their well-wishes to Ms. Poe in her imaginary march to Malacañang

You awaken from this reverie when you realize that the president is our head of government and chief of state, the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces, and that he/she literally controls several trillions of our people’s money, and that he/she makes all important appointments in the government bureaucracy and the high positions in the judiciary.

Politics as a search for remedy
Bringing down the presidency to the status of an entry-level job is to my mind the ultimate insult to our Constitution, to our history of struggle for self-government, and to all those personages who have served our people and our country in the highest office of the land (three of whom are still very much with us).

Benigno BS Aquino 3rd has, no doubt, brought the office to new lows of indignity, irresponsibility and ineffectiveness.

While seemingly a precedent, that is no excuse to bestow it next year on another novice.

We can prattle all we like that it is good and democratic to bring the views and feelings of the masses into the entire presidential selection process; but to allow populist perspectives to shape and dictate the actual decision is nationally suicidal.

Choosing a president is not a lottery.

At its best, the historian Arthur Schlesinger called democratic politics “the search for remedy.”

The search is for national leadership who can provide answers and supply the public policies to resolve the great problems of national life.

A democratic election is not an escape into fantasyland. It is and should be a confrontation and debate of contrasting candidates and policy agendas.

The prize should belong to the candidate and program that best fit our times of uncertainty and challenge.

It should be bestowed on the candidate who does not run away from the problems, but rather confidently confronts them, and offers thoughtful and practicable solutions to them.

Offering a so-called 20-point program does not qualify as a remedy. It may not even be good enough as a band aid for our superficial wounds.

We have already learned to our sorrow how foolhardy and dangerous it was for our people to put all their eggs in the basket of Benigno BS. Aquino 3rd.

Whereas at his leave taking, the American people hailed George Washington as “first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his country men,” we are today in a quizzical position of maybe bestowing on BS Aquino the title of the worst.

A caricature of democracy
Up to this point, we Filipinos have been treating the runup to the presidential campaign as a game of cat and mouse, Rody Duterte has made it more interesting game by reentering the conversation. Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, after some make-cute public appearances, has receded into the shadows.

We are in danger of seeing an election that is a caricature of democracy’s possibilities?

It is a grave mistake for the nation to fritter away its time and attention on candidates who, bereft of governing experience, cannot address sensibly and articulately the great questions of national life.

Every day that we waste in listening to the prattle of candidates is a day wasted.

Fortunately, enough time remains to turn our focus on the problems and the character and qualifications of the candidates, and to reduce the field to the really serious and worthy candidates.

There will be powerful public support now for candidates who are really thinking hard about the problems and lab-testing the answers.

What people hunger for are leaders who can do the job – whether in the presidency, or the vice-presidency.

Candidates with no executive experience and no professional credentials should be cast aside as nuisance candidates in either the screening or the voting process.

yenmakabenta@yahoo.com

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50 Comments

  1. The Stupidity and Idiocy of this President , Mr. Pnoy Aquino must be write and record in our Philippine History. All his descripancies that cause the suffered and lost of lifes or our people because of the tragedy, including the Mamasapano massacre in which he is, to be the responsible person.
    GOD SAVE PHILIPPINES FROM THIS EVIL PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES AND TO HIS ALLIES..

  2. All those who are critical of and against President Aquino P-Noy seems to forget that had Pinoy lost the election, we would now have Estrada as our President. Did the Filipinos make a mistake and would the Philippines now be better off?

    • Yes, you’re right, for the simple reason that instead of us uniting to push the most competent candidate, Filipino voters are more inclined to vote for the most popular one. Nevermind if the person has no track record, inefficient. That’s why, yes, we had PNoy winning and Erap as second a placer. Teodoro and Gordon who are known for their strong leadership just came in 4th & 5th respectively.

      So, why not make a difference this time? It’s not yet too late.

  3. Great column There is no need to take another swipe at P-Noy. If you are clearly not in favor of him, would you have been better off if Estrada was elected President and ran the country since 2010?

    REPLY
    Yes!

  4. yes it can be an entry level job only in the Philippines. look at pacquiao from boxer to suddenly a politician who is no show and never passed a bill and he is planning to become a senator too? lol. then there is lobredo, Honasan, etc. I think I will run for president too or VP. lol

  5. She might have been a natural born citizen but she openly and publicly renounced her citizenship by applying for and being granted American citizenship .. I knew that our senators are corrupt and stupid but blind and mentally deficient … That is an additional trait ,,, I guess

  6. common people admit it Pnoy govt is not perfect, but he move us forward economically, you will say it’s not inclusive but how can you include the opposition and the one who do want to be included. On Grace Poe, she was just a victim here, it’s very clear she is being continuously use by the people around her, analyze it, is Poe better than Escudero politically? of course not that’s why Escudero is consistently leading the vice
    presidential survey, now who’s laughing all the way to Malacanang to become a winner isn’t
    it Chiz Escudero, poor Grace another lady victim of Chiz

  7. What can you expect of those crooks who accepted PDAF and DAP???

    Poe promised them what exactly? Not to be brought to Justice?

  8. i dont agree with the SET ruling on Poe’s case BUT the qualifications for a President (and other positions) are quite absurd tbh,. only to be able to read and write? that’s the reason why we have nuisance candidates. i dont think Poe is qualified either but it is not the case for the constitution when it comes to her experience,. i still stand by to my opinion that she’s not a natural born

  9. When senators do not stand by the principle of consistent to what is defined by the new and present constitution, people are truly divided!

  10. B.S. Aquino set a precedent when, devoid of experience and outstanding educational attainment, he became president. Now just everybody thinks he can become president, too. If a simpleton did it, I can do it, too. This seems to be the mindset of every presidential aspirant now. And it includes Roxas.

  11. Mr. Yen, you’re right, the presidency is not an entry level job, not an apprentice or training job! A presidential candidate must have excellent qualifications, extensive working experiences and excellent records of achievement/track records. Does she have extensive knowledge and experience in economic policies, foreign policies, national security policies, also in management, administration, finance and law!

    If she does not have such qualifications and experiences, it will be trial and error practice! Can the Filipino people afford such incompetence!

  12. Of course this is elementary, but even the most basic truths can be easily defeated by massive propaganda being waged by forces more powerful than the government. This Grace Poe phenomenon is an operation designed to delude the people and to continue these forces’ stranglehold on our country. The job of every thinking man is to point this farce out and stop going along with the manufactured narrative as if it is a natural flow of events. Their most provable lies are in their SWS results and their Smartmatic cheating machines, which also happen to be the two main pillars of their lying operation. If we just concentrate our fire on these two pillars, the break we are hoping for might just come.

  13. Ditto!

    I refused to call this opportunist under the name Poe. She is a Llamanzares – a free-riding carpetbagger using her father’s name in order to gain a fantasy ride to Malacanang. She is a power-hungry woman loaded with narcissism believing that her minimal achievements , if not “nil” political achievements, are not apparent to the political observers. She forgets that there are still intelligent Filipino voters, and with the advent of social media, she is heading for a turbulent ride to her Malacanang ambition. One also has to take note that Escudero is one among her main driving gear in this whole ill-vested personal ambition. Can you imagine diplomacy talks with the NPA’s and MILF’s? How about strategic decisions involving military operations? Throw in the growing global threat of terrorism and insurgencies. Just put a mental note of that seeming “maka-Filipino” facade in light of these critical events. I simply cannot imagine because there’s no room for her in there. Absolutely none. Her history only involves a brief stint in the senate and MTRCb chairmanship, not to mention a Montessori pre-school teacher. She is making a complete mockery of the Constitution by trying to circumvent every possible way and angle she can in order to advance in her personal greed and ambition. I’m sure this is underpinned by her financial backers who think that they can again rule the country with their oligarch ways.

    Those 5 senators’ opinion’s are clearly a political one. Even Alan Cayetano admitted that his sister’s vote, Pia, was a vote to be in Llamanzares’ good grace. What kind of decision is that? I wouldn’t be surprised at all that her brother will lose his VP bid due to her turning a blind eye on the Constitution. I must say that Sotto is an abomination in this country’s senate. Do we need a plagiarist in this government? How could he even have the intellect to discern the Constitutional provisions when he himself plagiarizes? I’ve read his speech, and it was a straight shot plagiarism. Then you have the biased Legarda who is a Llamanzares supporter. Obviously the water is being muddled from the get-go. In essence, while it was extremely beyond disappointing to hear the results of SET, nevertheless it was an clear display of the typical “padrino” system. What a shame!

    With regards to Llamanzares’ popularity, I must say that I do have to blame the voters on this one. Majority of the mass voters are the class D and E who are the uneducated and in the poverty level. To them, showbiz is everything because that’s pure entertainment for them. Just look at our senate members – Lito Lapid, Vilma Santos, Erap, Sotto, Pacquiao. Their “psyche” operates on a whole new level. Government is akin to popularity contest. This is why Llamanzares continues to use Poe. Disgusting scheme. She knows how to reach to the intellect of the mass voters.

    Speaking of class D and E voters, the government really need to implement a complete eradication on vote-buying. It is extremely detrimental to the outcome of our country. What is 500 pesos in exchange for 6 years of pork-barrel magnitude catastrophe.

    In short, I totally concur with everything you say. You are an astute journalist.

  14. Of all the Foreign leaders that attended the APEC Summit, I felt so discouraged to see that our president is the only one who does not look like a President. He appears like a chef mixed with dignitaries who is there to get their recipes for the food they will eat for dinner. My personal embarashment went deeper when he started badmouthing his predecessors and continued boasting of accomplishments he never did. He is the complete picture of a a father who failed to provide his obligations to his family. Can you imagine a leader confining the impoverished and and shutting down all sources of income and paralizing traffic for several days? Just to hide the real truth? I just hope that all Filipinos now have had enough lesson and learned the misfortunes of electing a president who is not only incompetent but also IMBECILE. Since 1986, our political system has started to degrade and it has now reached its worst level. Marcos was the last President who can be called a competent head of state. So do all his predecessors. Sad to say that Cory Aquino started below mediocrity of governance that continued to worsen until the presidency of his own son, now undoubtedly known as the worst president the Phil. ever had. We are now in an era of incompetence. Our incumbent leaders shows the kind of society where Filipinos belong in the international community.What happened to the Phils. and her people? Being led by psychologically impaired individual is all we are worth? Shall we install a foreigner to lead us? Fellow Filipinos we must awake from a long nightmare…Let us come together and rebuild our rotten system. We shall ahve a good start by electing competent individuals to lead us. Let us consider most their past performance and never listen to anyone who could not show any proof of good leadership!

    • Abnoy, the worst and the most stupid and incompetent president in our nation’s history. Hope the bobotantes who campaigned and voted for him will finally learn their lessons.

  15. Question:

    Who’s that idiot “lawmaker” that drafted the simplistic “requirements” for presidency? It seems to be treated like janitorial-level job.

    Even the lowly government jobs have better requirements than that, then progresses with higher position, with bigger responsibilities

    And the most funny thing is, it is even totally disregarded by a candidate with questionable “citizenship

  16. You are correct, Mr. Makabenta, the PNoy presidency is an anomaly, a precedent of electing an incompetent, no-clue president to lead us but does not have any kind of leadership trait and character. Blame it on the electing public for the sympathy votes they wrote in favor of PNoy, not looking into his capability and capacity to lead the nation. Sen. Grace P. Llamanzares the american is no better, in fact, in a worse position because she has no experience in governing at all other than almost 3 years of being a senatora. Is this enough to elevate her to be ln PNoys position? Many of her uneducated supporters claim that because she topped the senatorial elections last time she is already qualified to be president. What? The voters picked her as a senator, not as the top man in Philippine government which is a totally different story at that. Many of her stupid allies are also saying that Llamanzares, just like PNoy have very good intentions as President. I am reminded of what Arch. Cruz wrote about PNoy having good intentions but intentions has nothing to do with competence. And by the way, how can we forget and erase the stigma and the mismanagement by PNoy in “leading” our country when we have Grace Llamanzares who promised to copy the “daang matuwid” policies of PNoy which is a total failure. It has been suspected that Grace Llamanzares is the non-official candidate supported by PNoy. What arrangement do the 2 have?

  17. A lofty ambition to hold the highest position in the land (Presidency) must have a counterpart equation of proven qualification, education in administration, extensive experience in governance of the country’s governmental workings and affairs since the position is loaded with awesome tasks and vast accountiblities that affects the social, economic and the very welfare and well-being of the entire populace.
    A mere program of government as a platform of action does not suffice to meet the needs, problems and solutions for nation’s progress. In this regard, Grace Poe is only full of ambition and loaded with program which personally are not supported by her capacity, education and experience to manage the complex governmental affairs. Grace Poe, besides. NOT being natural born citizen and legally ineligible to be Senator, VP or President, is a ” tenderfoot” political character projected to the limelight only because of her relationship to the celebrity status of her adoptive parents (FPJ and Susan Roces), have no accomplishment either as an individual or Senator. Her celebrity status emboldened her to be too ambitious, egoistic and big-headed, making her felt and believe she is the only person who can uplift the nation! She is even using FPJ name to promote her shameful ambition. It is not wrong or immoral to be ambitious or dream big but it must be supported by attributes that a person has the capacity to achieve and personally able to execute by way of judicious actions.

    I doubt Grace Poe’s capacity to execute and perform the right tasks to implement her ambition and dream to lead as President, for she is ill-equipped for the position!
    Vote NO to Grace Poe! Poe is not a natural born Filipino citizen and therefore not qualified to be President under our Constitution! Besides being inexperience in governance, she has no good education to make a beneficial decisions in social, economic and foreign affairs! Ambition is not enough to make a good President, education and vast experience are the best teacher to lead the nation!

  18. There was President Aquino whom we voted because he was clean and corrupt free though mostly attributed to his mother but that is all. We did not stop to consider if he was competent enough for the job up in the highest seat of our land. We ignored his dismal performance in his capacity as Senator, which, by the way, is not a good measure of one’s executive capability. We voted the guy out of sympathy for his dead mother and his promising character as one who will take no bribe. We did not realize that to run this country, this is in no way good enough to run a country.

    We did not consider that taking his “straight” road would be digging through a mountain with a bedrock foundation and that it would have taken us away from a path around it. We were narrow sighted and failed to see the bigger picture that a person can only do so much if what he can only put on his resume is that he is incorruptible.

    We will not be cured of this political myopia if we keep on voting the incompetent or the inexperienced.

  19. Another 6 years of the 40 families that control all the wealth in the Philippines will finish the job Aquino started, a nation of peasants with no future.

  20. In a democracy, it should be the people who decide whether someone is suitable or not for any elected position. The fact that in the past, the Filipino electorate have demonstrated an appalling lack of judgement in electing the corrupt, inept and general criminals to positions. however, with Poe, though she lacks lots of experience (especially in stealing public money and being corrupt), the thinking public seem to believe that she will be better for the post than Roxas (who has done such a good job as head of the DILG) and Binay who, together with his family, are constantly haunted by allegations, which he cannot/will not answer, about corruption.
    The establishment and those with their snouts in the trough, are correct to be worried that she may upset their applecart. Hopefully she will.

  21. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Last night, I heard Ms. Poe or Llamanzares, talked in the “Meet your candidates” program of ANC about her circumstances. She avoided answering the question on her renouncing her Filipino citizenship and instead appealed for the cause of foundlings. She stressed that she was motivated to run because of her father Fernando which is a big lie. She continued lying through her teeth. The circumstances of her being a foundling and not a natural born citizen are properly defined in the Philippine Constitution. By violating the basic law of the land is tantamount to encouraging lawlessness and disrespect of the law in the country. The only piece of paper which binds all Filipinos together is the Philippine Constitution. And, disgraced GRACE is out to divide the Filipinos. God bless the Philippines.

  22. Weakening the rule of law as typified in the case of Llamanzares Poe, as voted by the SET, is a dangerous precedent. Many of those who see the strict interpretation of the Philippine Constitution to a very important question, will erode their faith in the basic law of the land. It is a signal to the erosion and eventual disregard of the Constitution in favor of corrupted Philippine politics.
    .

  23. Unfortunately, the Filipino voters are slow learners. They repeatedly commit electing candidates with no or little credentials to high government offices. These are being taken advantage by those who are able to charm the fool. And there are many of us fools electorate. The case of Ms. Grace Llamanzares is indeed ridiculous for appealing to people she is going to bring us to fantasy land. Never mind if the constitution is violated for not being a natural-born citizen and/or lacking in residency requirements. She is putting her personal interest above the national interest. These are exacerbated by manipulators; rich financier, who also want to control the administration, and doubtful surveys.

  24. Pen pen Gonzales on

    We can not argue with the voice of the people. As far as the surveys are concerned, even before the filing of candidacies, Sen. Poe have been topping presidential polls which can not be controlled since the Filipino people is asking for her. What Sen. Poe all did was answer to the call of the people. And I know, as what she did in the Senate, she will do her best and, in case she wins the presidential seat, she will be the best president we will ever have

    • Pnoy was touted to be the best president also during the 2010 elections, instead he has become the worst….That is the problem with us Filipinos – we don’t follow rules. The constitution says a presidential candidate MUST be a natural born citizen ( not just any citizen ) – which Ms. Poe is not. A candidate MUST have 10 years residency – which Ms. Poe has not complied with.

    • “Filipino people is asking for her”…. not really! If not only by his FATHER “POE’s” name… she’s nothing. ! She’s not the best but the worst…. imagine what she will do is TO LISTEN ALL THE ADVICES COMING from HER CELEB ADVISERs…. the philippines will be doomed. Her answer will be,’hindi ko po kasi alam”.

  25. We can not argue with the voice of the people. As far as the surveys are concerned, even before the filing of candidacies, Sen. Poe have been topping presidential polls which can not be controlled since the Filipino people is asking for her. What Sen. Poe all did was answer to the call of the people. And I know, as what she did in the Senate, she will do her best and, in case she wins the presidential seat, she will be the best president we will ever have

    • The same thing was said on pnoy when he declared he was running for president. Look at his performance so far

  26. Pen pen Gonzales on

    We can not argue with the voice of the people. As far as the surveys are concerned, even before the filing of candidacies, Sen. Poe have been topping presidential polls which can not be controlled since the Filipino people is asking for her. What Sen. Poe all did was answer to the call of the people. And I know, as what she did in the Senate, she will do her best and, in case she wins the presidential seat, she will be the best president we will ever have.

  27. I can feel the sincerity in Grace Poe’s statements. She maybe a newbie in politics but you can definitely see that she has the potential. Aanhin pa natin yung mga luma na nga sa pulitiko at sa gobyerno ngunit puro kapalpakan lang naman ang nagawa? Siguro panahon na para sa isang lider na may fresh ideas. Sawang-sawa na ako sa paulit-ulit na pangako ng mga trad pol. A new perspective would be good.

    • I agree with you. Grace Poe is fresh potential – but for another disaster of the Philippine Presidency. That’s the trouble – we elect somebody with no performance to boost of, then hope all good things will come to pass. Wishful thinking, whether during the time of Cory and now with PNoy never got us far. The prospects offered by a Poe presidency is clearly suicide for the all the Filipinos!

  28. Angela Burleson on

    And another thing, her very own immediate family are american citizens and therefore cannot vote in the Philippines as they are not eligible to do so!!! How about them apples, huh? I think they’re keeping their american citizenships just in case, lol! Poor Pinoys…I’m afraid you might just have a president with an american family if you vote for her. Once she’s a president, she may need to take several trips a year to the states to attend to her children, ie , PTA meetings?? She also needs a little bit more experience; being a Head of State is not an OJT. Besides she sounds too sweet for the job anyway.

  29. Why did Grace Poe rush to run for the presidency? She already knew that her foundling status would be an obstacle, she should have initiated first a bill that would amend the constitution. Then, how could see miscalculate the 10 year residency? Is she misguided by people around her?

    With 5 popular candidates, the elected president may most likely be not someone chosen by the majority of the electorates. The votes will be split between the 5 and in the end, the majority of the people do not approve of the winner. Bad for the country, more people will be divided.

    • because she was influenced by person who has an ambition to be the next Vice President of the Philippines, she will be the next Most powerful leader after the President of our country and no one can topple but she listened and followed her dear friend who are now likely to be our Vice President, poor Grace. Wake up Grace and ditch him.

    • DisGrace traPOE is an opportunist
      and a liar, her candidacy is not in the best interest of the country.
      If she wins, it’s another Student
      Council presidency. Hyped popularity is not enough to propel this country to progress. We need
      an experienced, tested leader with
      a vision and track record of performance and achievement.
      country to progress,

    • Pnoy is not s nightmare he is the reality he may not be your perfect President but he did a good job. Grace is just a victim of another politician who will likely to be our next Vice President.

  30. Why are you saying that she is not qualified? She is natural-born Filipino until nyou can prove otherwise. I know people never questioned her citizenship when she was elected as senator. But now that she is the major threat int he race, everyone suddenly questions it. 2.5 years late.

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      It should be Grace to prove that she is a natural born citizen because she should know herself as well as her status. Otherwise, is she herself cannot prove anything then she truly remains stateless after having renounce her American citizenship because there is nothing to fall back to. God bless the Philippines.

    • Let’s try reading the SET main decision and the dissents of which I think you only need the one prepared by Justice Carpio. After that, tell us why you think Ms. Poe-Llamanzares is a natural born citizen. I think to do this would be fair for everybody. If you’re lazy enough not do that, then stop declaring something that is most certainly disputable.

      It may be too late to question her seat in the Senate but it’s certainly not too late to question her presidential qualification. To say otherwise would be saying that a man who was robbed the night before would welcome the robber the next day because the house was already robbed and it is now too late to make precautions.

  31. Very well said Yen, I copied your statement above and pasted it here. This is the “Heart” of your argument – I LOVE IT.

    “I was awed by the weighty and persuasive opinions of the three SC justices in the tribunal who dissented from the majority opinion.

    Lastly, I was embarrassed by the inanity and sentimentality of the opinions submitted by four senator-members, whose votes decisively shifted the tribunal toward a vote in favor of Ms. Poe.

    By saying in the ruling that they seek to uphold the rights of foundlings in this country, the senators virtually made law, judged the case not on its legal merits but according to political calculation.

    They offered their well-wishes to Ms. Poe in her imaginary march to Malacañang”

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      Just too bad for the five senators who stamp their own demise from the senate as they do not deserve to be senators who swore to protect, respect, and observe the basic law of the land, the Philippine Constitution.God bless the Philippines.