My Choice of President


BUSINESSWORLD
Opinion

Posted on 08:27 PM, April 19, 2010
To Take A Stand — By Oscar P. Lagman, Jr.

The person who gets my vote

The country has suffered from 12 years of maladministration — two and a half years of bumbling and plunder by Erap, and nine and a half years of immoderate greed, unconscionable extravagance, and brazen abuse of power by GMA. My choice therefore for the next president is one who will put an end to the wretchedness and shame we have endured long enough.

I dismissed early from consideration J.C. de los Reyes, Nicky Perlas, and Eddie Villanueva. They may be pure of heart and noble of motive, but their lack of exposure to the workings of government render them incapable of undoing the colossal damage wrought by Erap and GMA. As for Jamby Madrigal, she looked lost in the Senate.

Their many years in government may have developed in Richard Gordon and Gilbert Teodoro some of the skills necessary for governing. But to me it is not just a matter of professional qualifications, it is also a matter of personal qualities.

Richard Gordon had demonstrated during his stint in various government positions that he is the kind of politician spawned during the martial rule of Marcos, to whom he remained loyal up to the end.

He was one of the rah-rah boys of the 1973 constitution dictated by Marcos, but he campaigned all over the country against the 1987 Constitution drafted by men and women of probity and independence.

He governed Olongapo City the way Imelda Marcos governed Metro Manila, highlighting only the good and the beautiful, hiding the bad and the ugly. When Father Shay Cullen, a Columban missionary, exposed the presence in Olongapo City of a child prostitution syndicate that offered children to US Navy personnel, Mayor Gordon dismissed the exposure as a mere publicity stunt of the priest.

If there is an expert on publicity stunts, it is Gordon. He was not an Ateneo cheerleader and Procter & Gamble brand manager for nothing. To gain the sympathy of the people after President Estrada had dismissed him as Subic Bay administrator, he staged a melodramatic meeting of the marches he and his wife led separately, in obvious imitation of the Easter Sunday Catholic rite Salubong.

“Ngayon lang! Napa WOW Philippines ang buong mundo,” crowed the Department of Tourism ad when Gordon was the secretary. Among those cited in the ad as having wowed the whole world were the placement of the WOW Philippines advertisements in CNN and BBC; the installation of a system that facilitates identification and apprehension of taxi drivers guilty of crime against tourists; the awards the country won in a tourism fair in Berlin such as “Best Booth,” “Best Marketing Effort,” and “Best TV/Video Advertising Campaign”; and Gordon’s election as chair of PATA and chair of the Commission for East Asia of the World Tourism Organization.

When you compare what a previous secretary of Tourism and his undersecretaries had done in Corregidor with what Gordon had done in Intramuros, you would be convinced that Gordon is just all hype. His campaign symbol of beating his breast with his fist is most appropriate for him.

His overbearing posture in televised forums gives us a glimpse of the kind of president he would be. And he complains when his campaign sorties are not covered by media. His patronizing stance toward media people turns them away. He blew his top at the Iloilo airport when the public address system announcing the arrival and departure of flights drowned his voice.

His releasing the Blue Ribbon Committee’s final report on the Fertilizer Scam only after it became known he was not Lakas-KAMPI’s presidential candidate smacked of Machiavellian moves. Gordon has vowed to go after GMA if he becomes president. I am sure he would for having been passed over by GMA, but he cannot because his persona will prevent him from ever becoming president.

As for Gilbert Teodoro, he has said he would not take action against GMA as he owes her a debt of gratitude for putting her complete trust in him when she designated him secretary of Defense. Utang na loob, a Filipino value, can be dysfunctional at times. It would be in the case of a Teodoro presidency. That alone caused him to lose my vote.

Also, his vaunted galing at talino were shown wanting by the Ampatuan incident and the Ondoy disaster. The Ampatuans went about their ruthless and reckless way in Mindanao unhampered, unchecked, unperturbed by Defense Secretary Teodoro. National Disaster Coordinator Teodoro looked overwhelmed by the havoc Ondoy wrought.

When martial law was imposed in Maguindanao, the legal luminaries weighed in. Miriam Santiago denounced in her characteristic overdramatic fashion the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao, never mind if it was imposed by the President whom she butters up to. Teddy Boy Locsin defended it in his usual deliberate way, never mind if he went against the stand of many of his allies in the opposition. Teodoro, the bar topnothcher and Harvard master of law, held his peace, in obvious deference to his patron.

When asked in a forum what government policies he may have disagreed with when he was in the Cabinet, he declined to answer, giving the lame excuse that his opinion was privileged information. Talino may be one of his attributes, but moral courage is not.

His campaign handlers make a big deal out of his being a licensed pilot. I would not want to be on a flight piloted by him. He would freeze if the flight encountered turbulent weather.

Villar had said in a televised forum that he is not going to lift a finger to prevent people from filing criminal charges against GMA. I inferred from that somewhat taciturn statement that he will not lift a finger either to file criminal charges against GMA.

Whether his family was really very poor or just not well off when he was a boy is no issue to me. Having been an advertising practitioner, I can tolerate the liberties taken in the production of his commercials.

While I found generally convincing Villar’s speech refuting Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s charges regarding the C-5 Road Extension, certain assertions he made raised questions in my mind. I had expected Enrile to ask the same questions, but Villar’s refusal to be interpellated left those questions unanswered. They continue to nag me.

But what cast a bigger doubt on Villar’s integrity is then Makati Representative Joker Arroyo’s speech in the House of Representatives in 1998 when he accused Villar of using his influence as member of Congress to get government institutions to extend financial accommodations to his companies. Arroyo contended that that was in violation of constitutional provisions. That is why I have difficulty accepting his claim that if he just wanted to enrich himself, he would have stayed in business. His net worth has been ballooning since he was elected to Congress.

I see Noynoy Aquino as the best person who can arrest the worsening situation. For one he has vowed to stop corruption. I believe him. In his 12 years in Congress he has not evinced the imperiousness and wiliness of a trapo. His detractors say he is not deep. I agree. That means he is incapable of Marcosian and GMA machinations.

Noynoy as First Son did not indulge in the luxuries of the presidential palace as the other presidential children Gloria Macapagal, Imee and Bongbong Marcos, and Jinggoy and Jude Estrada did, and which Mikey and Dato Arroyo are shamelessly doing. Neither did First Son Noynoy arrogate unto himself presidential prerogatives and privileges like Imee, Bongbong, and Jinggoy did and Mikey is brazenly doing.

I do not belong to the Noynoy camp. I do not know him personally. I was with a civil society group that was born of the “Hello Garci” controversy. I have gone my own way since the start of the campaign season. I attack Villar and the other candidates, but I am not an attack dog as columnists critical of Villar are branded. Columnists supportive of Villar never grant that those critical of him are as motivated by love of country as they are when they savage Noynoy. I do not attack on the command of anybody like attack dogs do. I follow only the command of my conscience, and my conscience tells me to vote for Noynoy Aquino.

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