I AM looking for a cab driver. I need a good cab driver who, despite the rugged and clogged roads almost everywhere, can take me to my destination really quick without digging a dent in my pocket and violating traffic rules.
I know it is not easy to find such a driver these days, but I believe there is one out there who would at least come close to it.
What I need is “just” a cab driver and it is difficult to find one among 100 million Filipinos. How more difficult it is to look for somebody who can be president of the republic who will drive the country in a race toward economic progress that the majority can feel!
Learning to drive may be easy, but negotiating Metro Manila’s roads nowadays does not need just a skill to drive and knowledge of the traffic rules but also requires an alert mind and good stock of patience to be able to reach your destination without getting stressed.
Aspiring to become the country’s president may also be easy, but there are qualifications to meet. However, simply meeting the simple qualifications does not necessarily make a good president.
What I need after all is not just a cab driver but a good cab driver who can take me to my destination really quick without digging a dent in my pocket and violating traffic rules.
What the country needs is not just a president who is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least 40 years old on Election Day, and who has been here for at least 10 years before May 9, 2016.
What the country needs is somebody who meets all these qualifications set in the 1987 Constitution and who can perform miracles to unite the severely fractious political groupings, who can put order in the tight business competition to make sure that they do not just earn huge profits but also serve the consumers well, who can provide stable employment to the millions of jobless Filipinos, who can clear the roads of undisciplined motorists and pedestrians so that traffic can flow smoothly, and so many more.
That, indeed, is tough! I don’t think anyone among those posturing to become a candidate for president and/or vice president in the upcoming elections can meet these qualifications. They may pass the basic qualifications but considering the miraculous job expected of him/her during his/her six-year term, do you think somebody would qualify?
As the political spins go, Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares is not qualified to become president because she does not meet the 10-year residency requirement and she may not be a natural-born citizen. She has been portrayed as a dishonest foundling; some even call her a liar for allegedly not being forthright about her citizenship and residency when she ran for the Senate in 2010. She should not have been in the Senate in the first place if she is not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines.
Vice President Jejomar Binay may possess all the basic qualifications but he is perceived to be so corrupt that many people believe him to be worse than the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas 2nd may also pass all the basic qualifications but he is seen as a technocrat who has been trying hard to be pro-poor but miserably fails to deliver the needs of the poor.
Not just a few frown on the list of alleged human rights violations attributed to Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and his alleged links to the shadowy vigilante group in Davao believed to be responsible for the extra-judicial killings there.
What about Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago? Oh, she has long been branded as a “Brenda” who is good only at delivering verbal punches or pick-up lines.
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., being the son of the late strongman, may be both his strength and weakness.
These prospective presidential candidates and/ or their minions have been throwing mud at one another, and this mudslinging game is not helping us voters to make an informed and intelligent choice.
On the contrary, the dirty politicking that our politicians have grown accustomed to have served to confuse the public and had made many uninterested in participating in the elections by registering as a voter, and a number of those who have taken pains to register are losing the urge to exercise the very important obligation to cast their vote because there is no good choice among the candidates for various positions.
Aspirants for the presidency are put at close scrutiny even before they file their certificates of candidacy months prior to the elections. This is good, but perhaps it will serve the country better if they are not scrutinized on the basis of how bad they are but also on the totality of their well-being, how they performed in their previous positions, where their hearts and minds belong, and their plans for the country.
The rigid scrutiny should not apply only when one is running for president or vice president. The process of qualification and elimination must strictly be observed and applied on candidates from the lowest political rank, which is in the barangay level where corruption really starts.
Just like in our daily lives, when we hail a cab, we should not just sit comfortably and expect the driver to take us to our destination. We should note down the cab’s name and plate, the physical features of the driver, and see to it that he is traversing the correct route for our own safety and that he is not a robber.
Yes, we don’t check the driver’s background before we get into the cab, but we should be alert for any untoward incident once we hail it.
In choosing the candidate to vote for the presidency, the pre-qualification process may not be like how we choose the driver of the cab we take, but once the chosen one assumes power, we should be as watchful and critical to make sure that we don’t end up getting robbed of our hard-earned taxes.
If we will be strict, and we should, with the residency requirement set in the Constitution, we should apply the same strictness to other provisions of the same Constitution and of other laws about living modest lives and against corruption. No selective application of the laws, please! After all, what we need is not a cub but a president who can perform miracles, not a glib-tongued hypocrite who can sell his/her own mother without knowing it.