The President we need for the battle we face


Last of two parts

What kind of leader does the nation need for the bloody battle against lawlessness warned by the first part of this article, published on Tuesday? And which presidentiable best fits the bill?

In contrast to the false image of good governance foisted on the nation by pro-administration media, President Benigno Aquino 3rd has in truth unleashed unprecendented crime, contraband and congressional sleaze on the nation.

Crime incidence, the undeclared or underdeclared value of imports, and pork barrel outlays have all tripled since 2010 (see ).

Hence, the nation and our next leader face a monumental struggle against syndicates, smugglers and scammers — including many leading politicians — bent on expanding their clout for another six years.

If this cabal of lawlessness continues its nefarious advance, which has already spawned a million crimes a year in the past three, and P4 trillion in smuggling in 2010-14, as detailed in Part 1, the Philippines could well go down the devilish path of Latin American narco-states, where criminal syndicates wield immense political power.

This is the paramount challenge facing the nation and the next President. The tsunami of crime, contraband and corruption threatens not just peace, prosperity and progress, but democracy itself. If lawless elements further expand their power through their political allies, as they have increasingly done under Aquino, then they undermine the sovereignty and welfare of the Filipino people.

The next Chief Executive must enforce the law
Hence, the next leader’s top task to put out the conflagration in lawlessness, and rein in lawbreakers on the streets, at the ports, and in the corridors of power. Criminals and contrabandits must face justice, and corrupt officialdom held accountable and not allowed to inflict graft on the citizenry, as has been done at the Metro Rail Transit, the Manila international airport, and the Land Transportation Office.

In that struggle to enforce laws, rules and standards, the next Chief Executive must possess three indispensable qualities.

First, he cannot be part of the Administration that unleashed the lawless scourge on the nation. For all this writer’s personal regard for Mar Roxas, a colleague in the Arroyo Cabinet, he is standard bearer of the Liberal Party and his campaign is directly benefiting from the election war chest amassed by the LP since 2010.

Moreover, Roxas was in charge of two Cabinet departments — Transportation and Communication, and Interior and Local Government — under whose watch the unprecedented crime wave and the egregious MRT and LTO anomalies burdening many millions of Filipinos, happened.

Even if Roxas admits and pledges to address Aquino-era excesses, his victory, if it happens, would only show that the powers that be can gorge themselves on jueteng, smuggling, and public spending lucre, and still stay in charge and continue shielding themselves from accountability. That would spur even more lawbreaking.

The new leader must be battle-tested
Second, the next leaders should be battle-tested, for the war on lawlessness will be tough, nasty and bloody. Jueteng, drug and crime lords, smuggling kingpins, and corrupt politicians will fight with no moral or legal strictures whatsoever.

For all his Wharton education and his years in business, politics and government, Roxas has not fought against powerful forces ready to decimate their opponents. Neither has Grace Poe, who may be wholesome, upright and learned (she studied Jesuit-run Boston College), but has never faced ruthless, lawless foes.

But Miriam Defensor Santiago, Rodrigo Duterte and Jejomar Binay all have. The lady senator gained fame in the 1990s as a judge sending hoods to prison, despite death threats. She doesn’t flinch at firing guns and once graced the cover of Asiaweek, the regional newsmagazine, pointing a pistol at the camera.

Davao’s mayor, of course, is no stranger to bloody battles with criminals. Indeed, many fear he may be too eager to use violent force in enforcing the law.

As for the Vice-President and former Makati mayor, his life-threatening tussles with the ruthless and powerful happened during the Marcos dictatorship. As a human rights lawyer, Binay stood up to the martial law government and military, braving the ever-present threat of being tear-gassed, beaten, arrested, tortured — or worse.

In the battle against lawlessness, we need a battle-hardened fighter like Rodrigo Duterte, Jejomar Binay, and Miriam Defensor Santiago (not necessarily in that order).

Which tough guy can you live with?
In choosing from among the VP, the Mayor and the Senator, one key consideration is the negatives each one brings. Which of these worrisome factors can the electorate live with most easily? — that question may well point to the best leader for the country now.

Santiago’s main drawback is her health. Having ended successful cancer treatment less than two years ago, she still faces the threat of malignancy within the six-year presidential term. That possibility of life-threatening disease could generate instability.

More crucially, the prospect of a shortened presidency could make officials and agencies more willing to buck tough Palace directives. And criminal syndicates may not be cowed by a leader who could be eliminated without them firing a single shot.

For a good number of voters, the corruption ascribed to Binay and the liquidations attributed to Duterte are enough for them to look elsewhere. Still, unlike issues with other candidates, Binay and Duterte’s negatives can be addressed somewhat with public and media vigilance and legal action.

Indeed, both the people and the press would be far more watchful of the two men — the opposite of the unwarranted trust toward Aquino — and that wariness is in fact the best way to guard against corruption and human rights abuses.

In the end, of course, the nation will elect a president with all of his or her pluses and minuses. Then we must unite behind the winner and battle Aquino’s legacy of lawlessness. So help us God.

(The first part was published on Tuesday.)


Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. What kind of leader do we need? Yung re-incarnation ni Ferdinand Marcos. Propaganda nila, kurap daw si Marcos. Wala silang mapatunayan sa paratang nilang ito hangang ngayon. Ang tunay na kurap ay yung mga pumalit sa kanya. Human rights violator daw? Kaya siya nag-martial law ay dahil pinagbintangan siya ng mga kalaban niya led by Ninoy Aquino na siya ang nagpa-sabog sa Plaza Miranda. Madami silang napaniwala sa kasinungalingan na ito, at kung naging presidente si Ninoy dahil sa Plaza Miranda, sigurado pakukulong niya si Marcos. No other move ang iniwan nila kay Marcos kungdi ang mag-Martial Law. Yung lider na may dibdib ang kailangan natin ngayon.

  2. Carlos de Castro on

    With Binay leading the survey, how can we have a good,leader to lead. I just cannot belive my eyes to read that a grafter and corrupter is leading the way. Wala na ba tayong iba.?FILIPINOS gumising tayo. Sa mukha lang ng mga iyan ay talagang hindi na gagawa ng magaling. Nakai-iyak. Iyan survey company na iyan ay hindi na dapat pang paniwalaan.Anybody, kasama na si Amay visaya, huwag lang si Binay.

  3. Ariel Radovan on

    With all due respect, I always dared to ask to all and sundry that the question to be asked that needs honest to goodness answer is, what’s the system we need for the unending battle for the future?

    This is so because whoever would be the President, by any and or all means, is just a product of a system we have in place since time immemorial. So, before debating who the next President would be, why not settle first what system fits the nation, then we could talk who the next leader would be. I use the word “leader” which I think the country needs not a President.

  4. Investors trust senator poe, the economy of the nation would experience progress nder her admin. I hope she becomes President. Other candidates has years and years of experience but I don’t think they did something of utmost relevance to show that they care about the Filipino people whereas Sen Poe continously pushed for FOI and always have addressed the issues in our country.

    • Eddie de Leon on

      If you don’t mind having a person who is not eligible to run for president because she does not have the required qualifications stated in the Philippine Constitution, why settle for Poe? Why don’t we nominate Mike Huckabee or Pat Buchanan or Bo Xilai or Bill Clinton? I’m sure any of those would be better than Grace Poe or any of the other current candidates.
      By the way, please don’t mix me up with Mr. Ed deLeon, who is also a Times reader and offers comments also.

  5. I believe Senator Poe has what it takes to lead the country. She may be soft-spoken but her words have power and she knows what she’s doing, she’s not like the others who’s all talk.

  6. There is no God or god , where is god at the Chinese tourist massacre at luneta ? Where is god when yolanda hit tacloban ? Where is god when pdaf scandal hit the fan ? Where is god when justice Corona was
    Ousted , and where is god at mamansapano massacre ? Instead there is abnoy and roxas the dilg secretary who cant show any positive atributes except for messing up mrt ? The question is how are they going to create jobs and what are their plans for philippine economy ?
    This not a question of morality but economy ?

  7. A lot of Filipinos most especially the OFWs in the U.S. are puzzled and wondering how Binay’s (the corrupt) ratings are up inspite of the charges filed against him with the voluminous evidences as proofs. In the U.S., majority of the Filipinos asked, Why? How stupid are the Filipino voters to still trust Binay? What is Binay’s secret? Well the answer is: It’s because Binay is using the so-called payola. Binay’s name appears everyday in all media especially the newspapers. Reporters are under the payroll of Binay in every newspaper in the Philippines to make sure that Binay appears in all these papers. You seldom see the names of Roxas, Duterte and Santiago. That’s the secret of Binay.

    • Dalawang bagay lang yan: Tanga talaga ang mga taongbayan natin o niloloko lang tayo ng SWS. Kung nangloloko lang sila, bakit? Para pag na-program na nila ang Smartmatic para palabasin ang tutang kandidato nila, tanggap na ng tao dahil yan ang sabi ng surveys, kuha mo?