Could The Next President Be A Woman?

by Joseph G. Lariosa

CHICAGO (JGL) – Filipino voters should rejoice that they are being offered an alternative with the rising popularity of Sen. Grace Poe, who can pull even, if not get ahead of faltering Vice President Jojo Binay if the current trending continues.

But the fickle-minded voters should also be reminded that a presidential election is not just a popularity contest gauging from the performance of past presidents.

The presidency is unlike any other elective position. It is damn if you do or damn if you don’t — a really tough nut to crack.

Just take the case of President Marcos. He was such a nino bonito, a new kid on the block, when he got elected that he was re-elected. But Filipinos wore out their welcome mat for Marcos, who misapplied the Filipino family value of utang na loob (sense of gratitude). Marcos would give an arm and a leg to repay his cronies at the expense of the government.

Instead of exercising an arm’s length transaction with his cronies by saying no to their entreaties, Marcos gave them the key to the government bank vault!

Despite the overthrow of Marcos, his predecessors, namely, my friend former President and now Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and now President Noynoy Aquino succumbed to the vicious cycle Marcos invented.

Never learning from the mistakes of Marcos, Marcos’ predecessors seem to be falling thru the same crack – by getting the services of their Cabinet officials based on connections, not competence, and without sufficient vetting if these nominees have skeletons in their closet nor second-guessing if they are committing future misconducts.

While Erap’s popularity carried him to the presidency, it was serendipity and guile or double-talk that extended Arroyo’s stay in Malacanang.

Suppose the elections were held in 2016 and Senator Poe were elected President. What executive experience can she fall back on? True, she once was a chairperson of the Board of Censors for Motion Pictures and was employed by a United States private employer. Can she apply her administrative experiences from a government bureau and stateside private employment to solve the problems of her country’s largest employer – the government mammoth bureaucracy?

What will she do if her official Cabinet officials were to stray off the tuwid na daan (straight path) like Executive Secretary Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa and Secretary Florencio Abad, who would re-invent an outlawed PDAF  (Priority Development Assistance Fund) and DAP (Disbursement Appropriations Program) declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court?

Will she keep them or fire them?

Instead of bowing to the majesty of the Supreme Court, Abad tried to go around Congress by telling the Congressmen to legalize the PDAF and DAP, employing a technique called ex post facto law or bill of attainder that violates the bill of rights when a law is passed retroactively, instead of prospectively!

Among the feathers in Senator Poe’s cap in her junior years as senator was her persistence to get the top cop, Gen. Alan Purisima, to shape up. Her persistence paid off  when Purisima was suspended by the Ombudsman for his alleged anomalous deal between the police force and courier company Werfast.

But exposing Purisima’s missteps are just tip of the iceberg of the more humongous responsibilities of a president to gauge her executive ability. There are more challenging executive decisions that she will have to face.

BEWARE OF WOLVES IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING!

For instance, if former President-Mayor Estrada were to use his political clout – his charisma among the masses – and secure her victory in 2016, what will she do if Erap asks her to return him a favor by giving his son, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, a pardon just like what GMA did to Erap, in case, Jinggoy is convicted of plunder?

Will she remember the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 7:15 to “watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves”?

Can she tell Erap that if he helps her, will there be strings attached?

Just remember that when one becomes President, his/her acts are no longer open to compromise that senators now are apt to do. But it should be remembered that there is a need for tons of political will if one wanted to quiet the opposition at the same time keeping the faith of the official Cabinet.

The president should expect to do a lot of balancing acts, whose one false step could be fatal, like Nik Wallenda, who walked a tight rope between Chicago’s two skyscrapers blindfolded last November.

Will Senator Poe be up to her presidential job when she gets what Hillary Clinton calls a “3 a.m. call”?

Although Reagan wanted to make the presidency a “9-5” job as President PNoy initially tried to do  early in his Administration when he made his Times Street home as his office, the presidency is more than a six-year, 24/7 job as PNoy found out. PNoy could not even have time for love.

The challenge really is how to find a candidate, who has no skeleton in his closet that could drag the president to jail. And how to find an official Cabinet member, who is Mr. Clean and who will not sell out his position to the highest bidder.

If we give credit to Sen. Poe for her handling of the Purisima caper, can we not look for a candidate, who did not only charge a general in court but sacked, not one, but six police generals for “failing to curb jueteng”?

GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

If we give credit to Sen. Poe for being a senator, what about a former two-term, eight-year senator, who was able to pass numerous bills, among them restoring the power of mayors to solemnize civil marriage, repeal of executive orders that undermined local autonomy, anti-red tape projects that made transparent and leveled the playing field and uniform application of rules and regulations for all LGUs (local government units) for business and building permits, certificate of occupancy and real property documents and synchronization of National and Local elections among numerous others during his term?

If we give Sen. Poe credit for being a board of censors chairperson for her executive ability, why not a former senator, who became not only a secretary of Interior and Local Government but also a provincial governor, who did not allow jueteng during his watch nationally that led to sacking of six generals and nor locally in his province while he was governor?

If we give Sen. Poe credit for topping the senatorial elections and for having a clean slate  because she is barely warming up her senate seat, why not give a former senator, who completed his term of office, without any stain of corruption? The last I checked two former senators – Marcos and Macapagal-Arroyo, topped the senatorial elections and were both got elected Presidents. But one (Marcos) was removed from power while the other  (Arroyo) is in jail!

If we give Sen. Poe credit because she has no domestic challenges (sexual infidelities common to men), why not give credit to a one-woman former senator, who detests political dynasty?

I can enumerate all the good things about Sen. Poe but I could tell that my preferred candidate in the 2016 presidential candidate has exceeded all the qualities that Sen. Poe has to offer and perhaps about to do because my candidate has “been there and done that.” Papunta pa lang po si Sen. Poe, ang aking manok ay pabalik na po!

And aside from being God fearing and for having compassion for the poor by authoring RA 7279 which led to its passage allocating idle government lands to informal settlers (squatters), my bet is a lawyer and an honest individual, could be a reluctant candidate like Sen. Poe. But if there will be groundswell of prodding, sky is the limit for my bet, who could be a dark horse, if not a wild card, in the 2016 sweepstakes!

I know if given enough time, Sen. Poe can pull even with my candidate, and may even give my candidate a run for his money and she can become the next president of the Philippines. But that will only happen if these two conditions are met: 1) if Sen. Poe can prove that she never become a U.S. citizen (as her concerned supporter intimated to me); and 2) if she was not a U.S. citizen, she will get my support if she is agrees to my proposal that she undergoes a DNA test to prove that she is not the daughter of her aunt, former matinee idol Rosemarie Sonora by President Marcos!

As my friend, Marlon  L. Pecson, salivated when Conrado de Quiros might have accurately predicted that the 2016 presidential winner will be a woman, I dare say if my candidate, whose qualities I described above, were to accept the challenge and to get widespread support to run for president, my candidate will also be a woman. But in name only —  “Lina” — former Senator/Governor/Local Government Secretary Joey D. Lina, Jr., who is celebrating his 63rd birthday on Dec. 22.

Again, happy birthday, President Joey Lina! Merry Christmas to all!

(lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 

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