Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The race is on!

I saw the ANC Leadership Forum being aired in ABS-CBN last night, which reminded me that I haven't blogged about it yet, which I should have done right after I watched it on ANC when it was first aired. Anyway, for those who didn't know about it, ANC (ABS-CBN News Channel), together with the Ateneo School of Government, hosted a leadership forum on May 11 for the aspiring presidential candidates of the 2010 Philippine elections. The guests were Senators Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon, and Mar Roxas; Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio; and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro. Senator Panfilo Lacson confirmed his attendance but backed out before the event. They also invited Vice President Noli de Castro, and Senators Manuel Villar and Loren Legarda but the three probably didn't confirm. If you haven't seen it and you want to get an idea of what transpired, visit the following links:

Now for my opinions.

First of all, I'm so glad that ANC and Ateneo thought of hosting something like this. Some of the "presidentiables" are already airing "infomercials" so might as well give the television viewers a chance to get to know them a little bit better via a forum minus the scripted lines and hired actors. It also gave us some hope that we won't have to settle for the lesser evil because there are actually some good candidates. And I must say that there are less "trapos" (traditional politicians), at least among those who are present. Here's what I think about each of the guests:

Chiz Escudero - Yes, I did vote for this guy to be senator. But I don't think he's ready to become the next President of the Philippines. Let's be real, he's not the next Obama. We do need change but I don't think he can bring it. Idealism alone cannot wipe out 100+ years of corruption; the system will eat him alive if he tries to fight it with just empty words, even if they are in deep Tagalog. And please stop appealing to the youth to assert their claim on the government (to quote Chiz, "...Panahon na para angkinin ng kabataan ang gobyerno...") because the Filipino youth of today are lost. They don't even know what course to take in college; they take up nursing because that's what their parents tell them to take, because that's how they can find employment abroad faster, because that's where the money is. If the youth leads our country, we'd all be Emo! If you want to have an idea of what would happen to our country if it is led by the youth, just take a look at our music/band scene. Just a bunch of yapping college kids with nothing substantial to say. Not a pretty sight.

Dick Gordon - Now here's a man who can LEAD us into change. I really believe that this is the man who can bring us into the 21st century, who can put us right back on the map (and for the good reasons), who can make us the next Singapore, even better. I have wanted for this man to run for President for so long, even when he was still chairman of the SBMA. He did a great job in Subic, he did a great job as DOT secretary and he's doing a great job as a senator. I'm just worried that he is not as well-known in the Visayas and Mindanao as in Luzon. But he did get voted as senator, and that's nationwide. And I'm sure that Visayas and Mindanao benefited greatly from the tourism brought about by the "WOW PHILIPPINES" campaign so I do hope they remember him as the man behind it. But this man is not without detractors. Some people criticize him for voting for the US military bases to stay here. But think about this, if you were mayor of Olongapo and the government is pushing for the US military base to move out, which would result in majority of your constituents to lose employment, directly or indirectly, wouldn't you have done the same? He was fighting for his constituents, not the US military base. I wish people would realize that, and more importantly, that even if the US military base did move out, he was able to mobilize the people of Olongapo and give them hope to get back on their feet. Now that's something extraordinary, to say the least. I wish that he pushes through with his candidacy and that the people of the Philippines support him. I even joined a group in Facebook, "SENATOR DICK GORDON FOR PRESIDENT" just so I can encourage more people to vote for this man :)

Ed Panlilio - What can I say, he seemed the most "trapo" of the group. His answers are safe and completely theoretical, you know they won't be translated into action once he's in office. I don't believe in mixing state affairs with religion and this man is clearly a case of that. In fact, religion is one of the reasons this country is not moving forward. We don't need another Cardinal Sin in our lifetime. 'Nuff said.

Mar Roxas - What I don't like about this guy is that he is driven more by his ambition to be named President of the Philippines, than by his passion, if he really has any, to serve his countrymen. He is willing to do anything and everything to get the most exposure, even appearing on a noontime variety show to "surprise" Korina, ABS-CBN news anchor and his fiancee, and to entertain the audience with their love story and marriage proposal (Yes my friends, that can only happen in the Philippines). He knows how to tickle the masses and takes advantage of that, that's why Mr. Palengke won the first time he ran for the senate. Now he's hoping that the same tactics could win him the presidency, and with the recent surveys showing him as one of the forerunners, this may not be a long shot after all. But these are just surveys and it's really up to us voters to choose wisely come election day.

Gibo Teodoro - I was pleasantly surprised and equally impressed with this man (but not enough to sway my top choice, Gordon). I didn't know much about him before this forum; I just see his NDCC infomercial regularly on TV and I know he is the Defense secretary because he appeared as himself in the ABS-CBN soap opera, Tayong Dalawa (again, onli in da Pilipins. Also, it seems like ABS-CBN is the go-to channel of politicians wanting to appear on TV). So what I learned is that he was a congressman beforehand, and he is the nephew of Danding Cojuangco, chairman of San Miguel Corp and 1992 Presidential candidate. That makes him distantly related to Cory Aquino as well, first woman President of the Philippines. He has the pedigreed family background, strong financial backing, and as this forum revealed, the brains to match his opponents. I would love to see this man's political platform once he files his candidacy and I'm pretty sure he would make the presidential debates a little bit more interesting.

I heard that there would be a second batch of presidential aspirants who are going to appear in the ANC Leadership Forum, this time together with the University of the Philippines. This would also be interesting as the supposed guests would be Sen. Loren Legarda, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando, Sen. Panfilo Lacson (maybe he wanted to join this group that's why he backed out at the first forum? hehe) and former Pres. Erap Estrada. Watch out for it on June 5 and let's see if it will merit a commentary on this blog :D

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