Two presidential candidates remain standing alone, unpartnered, yet looking for someone to fill a role traditionally compared to that of a spare tire. In their cases, though, the search is for a partner who actually can raise their own electoral chances.
One of these candidates needs a deodorizer, a vice presidential mate who could do something about the great stink raised around him by accusations of grave wrongdoing in public office; it’s his chosen alternative to explaining himself.
In contrast, the other is, in fact, a squeaky clean candidate, but one who needs a massive shot of charisma, lacking the common touch that, in our culture, according to my husband, is often mistaken for popularity with the masses.
But hasn’t a popular candidate, good or bad, qualified or not, gotten us into trouble once elected? In any case, no one but no one could beat Joseph Estrada for charisma or popularity. We have to hand it to him; after having been impeached out of the presidency and subsequently found guilty of plunder in court, he still won himself, a pardoned convict, a second subkingdom as mayor of Manila.
The first was San Juan, since handed down, first, to a son, then, to a girlfriend, the sitting mayor herself. Good thing charisma has a limited shelf life, or he could be looking at the Palace next. It’s either we finally grow up as an electorate, or Mar Roxas grows sideburns and a mustache.
Anyway, whether the point is to find someone who can beat Jejomar Binay or to make Mar Roxas win, the strategy seems the same: draft Grace Poe.
And so, like a sincere and principled suitor, Mar awaits Grace’s matamis na oo, after Jojo himself, to all appearances, got busted.
Choosing the right partner is no easy prospect for both candidates, to be sure. In Mar’s case, he needs a partner who not only has mass appeal, but is a precise fit in President Noy’s tuwid na daan (righteous path) mission, which Mar is committed to carry forward.
‘Hulog ng langit’?
Well, Grace may just be it, a hulog ng langit. A Mar-Grace tandem may well take off on an energy of its own and build a momentum toward a win over Binay, who, as himself a busted suitor of Grace’s, conceivably has been set back in his search for a deodorizer.
I wonder if Grace herself wonders why she has to win the presidency for someone else, and why not seize the moment and win it for herself. If she seems hesitating too long, I guess it’s to do with the fear of defeat, a prospect never discountable; in fact, it did happen to her supremely popular father in 1991. Coming so early in one’s career, indeed it could cause a trauma so deep it could end one’s political career.
Perhaps she should listen to her mother, who trusts her to make her own decisions, but warns her not to lose herself. Right now she comes across as a serious junior senator on the correct side of politics with a wealth of promise. But I would like to get to know her better.
What does she stand for when she stands alone? Indeed, when will she ever stand on her own? I get the impression she can’t, because she is going politically steady with fellow Senator Chiz Escudero. Is she really prepared to take Chiz’s own shifting principles?
We have already begun reforms, and can’t afford to lose the momentum, let alone a setback. My own bedside analyst sees the next presidential election as “a character fight, a moral fight”—a battle, if I myself add, for the very soul of the nation.
How bad yet does the vice president have to look for the nation to see the moral issue involved in his case? A look at his champions and partisans, at the company he keeps, is enough to inspire suspicions.
Those of my generation are appalled, too soon, that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. himself a Binay prospect for running mate, finds no good reason to apologize for his senior, the dictator who plunged us in the darkest of our contemporary years. In fact, he rates him as the best president our nation has ever had.
Ferdinand Jr.’s case—never mind his father’s—is itself beyond delicadeza; it’s rubbing salt to the wounds of the survivors of martial law, and to the memory of its martyrs, the president’s own father foremost among them. It is a supreme desecration.
That Binay’s presidential survey numbers are steadily falling and Grace Poe’s rising would tend to reflect an awakening electorate. Mar’s struggle to look even slightly like a winner—in spite of his conceded integrity, on the other hand—may be due to a culture bias, something not altogether unreasonable. With the teeming poor and uneducated, how does one explain to them why they are in the state they are?
The situation seems to call not only for prayers but for a reordering of priorities for the whole nation. And the poor, the hungry and the uneducated are simply incapable of doing it on their own; they can only see and think as far as the next meal.
It is the civic and moral leaderships of this nation that bear that responsibility—to show those poor, those hungry, those uneducated where indeed lies the righteous path.