Friday, July 24, 2015

2016: Roxas but no Poe?

Is Mar Roxas giving up on Grace Poe as his VP? Assuming that he does, who would be a good replacement?

One view, points to either Senators Antonio Trillanes or Alan Cayetano. Here, his VP would be the attack dog against Binay while Roxas acts presidential and explains the Tuwid na Daan plans and programs.

Another view, points to either Governor Vilma Santos or Representative Leni Robredo. Here, his VP would neutralize the appeal of Poe in the Cinema because of her parents (Fernando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces) through a VP Vilma and the Vilmanians. Or he would have in Leni Robredo a VP who is a smart, hard working, and experienced lawyer and widow of a beloved public official. Both are comparatively beautiful, charming, and intelligent.

Depending on who is a greater threat to Roxas and the LP inheriting Malacañang, the right VP will be chosen as the neutralizing factor.

Ironically, PNoy, Mar, and the LP may not have to do anything. The demolition of the presidential candidacies of Binay and Poe would be accomplished independently through a process under the doctrine, “ours is a government of laws”. In the case of Binay, the plunder and corruption charges would destroy him without Roxas lifting a finger. In the case of Poe, if she decides to run, her qualifications at this point in time could derail her candidacy also with Roxas not lifting a finger. While defending residency is easy, proving that she is a natural born citizen is a little tricky. 

Poe is a “foundling” and it is therefore unknown if she is a natural born citizen of the Philippines under Philippine domestic laws. However, the Constitution recognizes generally accepted principles of international law as part of the country’s laws. The only relevant international law is the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, which provides in Article 2,  “a foundling found in the territory of a Contracting State shall, in the absence of proof to the contrary, be considered to have been born within the territory of parents possessing the nationality of that State.”

Out of 193 nations, only 63 countries or less than 1/3 have either signed or acceded to as Contracting Parties of the said 1961 Convention. In fact, of the 63, 21 or 1/3 of them have even expressed “declarations, reservations and/or objections.” Its provisions are obviously NOT what we call “generally accepted principles” of International Law. Furthermore, the Philippines is NOT a Contracting Party because it has not signed or acceded to the convention. It is therefore NOT bound by it. 

Two possible legal processes could cure this problem of “foundling” Poe. One is for PNoy, Mar, the LP and its allies to accelerate the signing and acceding to the 1961 Convention. Two is for PNoy, Mar, and the LP and its allies to help pass the Lapid bill that would recognize foundlings found in the Philippines like Poe as natural born citizens.

Would they? “Yes, if a Roxas-Poe tandem is cemented,” my barber asserts but readily admits that Chiz Escudero could easily derail it. The latter's influence on Poe is unmistakable. It is also showing that Poe is not as independent-minded as we thought she was. This is both bad and sad!

The Liberal Party had included her in the line of succession for the country's leadership in order to institute socio-economic and political reforms. It would take a whole generation or more to attain political equality, economic parity, and social equity. It takes long term-planning, real politik, patriotism, and humility to achieve such goals.

I personally proposed a system that would guarantee continuance of the "Daang Matuwid" reforms as well as an eventual presidency of both Roxas and Poe. But Poe should agree to slide down to the Vice Presidency in order to prepare for becoming a better president as proposed by some seasoned and experienced politicians.

Roxas and Poe have not declared. The way I see it the former is getting the endorsement of PNoy. He is in the best position to continue the "Daang Matuwid" reform agenda. 

Poe? Her destiny is her choice not Chiz's. She has to achieve it independent of anybody!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Coalition: Mission > Ambition > Obsession > Frustration

PNoy has been meeting with Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, and Chiz Escudero. Not mentioned by the press but also in attendance was Budget Secretary Butch Abad. The goal or mission is to retain the current pro-Administration coalition and support a common Presidential and Vice Presidential tandem for the 2016 elections.

Another one-on-one meeting between PNoy and Poe did not come up with the desired results either.  Building a coalition to support PNoy’s candidates of choice in the 2016 elections is a good and legitimate ambition. It is consistent with the all-time political mantra - “politics is addition”. But, by way of warning, turning the ambition to obsession is an unwise decision. It will only end up in unavoidable frustration.

In our most recent history, as brought about by the 1987 Constitution, we never witnessed any coalition being formed in support of the administration presidential candidate or that of the opposition. The Constitution encourages a multi-party system. Coalition building usually happens after the presidential elections in order to elect leaders in Congress who will be supportive of the newly elected President’s legislative agenda, and in order to prepare for the midterm elections. This is when “turncoatism” is evidently displayed.

In (1992) the first presidential election after Cory Aquino’s tenure, there were seven (7) candidates and parties: Fidel V. Ramos (Lakas-NUCD); Miriam Defensor Santiago (PRP); Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. (NPC); Ramon Mitra, Jr. (LDP); Imelda Marcos (KBL); Jovito Salonga (Liberal); and Salvador Laurel (Nationalista).

In the 1998 presidential elections, there were ten (10) candidates and parties: Joseph Estrada (LAMMP); Jose de Venecia (Lakas-NUCD); Raul Roco (Aksyon); Emilio Osmeña (PROMDI); Alfredo Lim (Liberal); Renato de Villa (Reporma); Miriam Defensor Santiago (PRP); Juan Ponce Enrile (Independent); Santiago Dumlao (Kilusan para sa Pambansang Pagpapanibago); and Manuel Morato (Partido Bansang Marangal).

In the 2004 presidential elections, there were five (5) candidates and parties: Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (Lakas-Kampi); Fernando Poe, Jr. (KNP); Panfilo Lacson (LDP); Raul Roco (Aksyon); and Eddie Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas).

In the 2010 presidential elections, there were ten (10) candidates and parties: Benigno Aquino III (Liberal); Joseph Estrada (PMP); Manny Villar (Nationalista); Gilberto Teodoro (Lakas-Kampi); Eddie Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas); Richard Gordon (Bagumbayan VNP); Nicanor Perlas (Independent); Jamby Madrigal (Independent); John Carlos de los Reyes (Ang Kapatiran); and Vetaliano Acosta (KBL).

A careful analysis will show that in presidential elections under the 1987 Constitution, it would be very ambitious to form either an administration or opposition coalition.  This is because, as ambitious as coalition building is, there are even more ambitious politicians who think that they can win the presidential elections and lead the country to prosperity.

“Ambition should be made of sterner stuff,” Mark Anthony delivered at Julius Caesar’s funeral. But an online writer interprets, “Ambition by itself does not get a job done. It must be combined with determination, perseverance, and a passion to get the job done well.”

There is no doubt that Escudero, Poe, and Roxas are ambitious. While Mar Roxas is the most prepared to inherit the mantle from PNoy and to continue the “Tuwid na Daan” commitment, each one still has to show the kind of determination, perseverance and a passion to fight and win the presidential derby.  Each must show a compelling reason that he or she wants the job and is best suited to run the country given his or her proposed reforms.

Failure to do so would only bring despair and false hopes to the Filipino people. Using the words of Marcus Brutus on Julius Caesar,  “ he was fortunate, I rejoice; as he was valiant, I honour him; but as he was ambitious, I slew him.”  It is obviously applicable to any who would soon declare his or her candidacy.

There is merit to what some wise Filipino men and women are asserting: “Presidency is a matter of DESTINY.” But another wise guy named William Jennings Bryan also said, “DESTINY is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

PNoy will help shape the DESTINY of either Mar Roxas or Grace Poe by endorsing any of them or both if one is patriotic enough to be VP. But at the end of the day, it will still be their decision and choice to display the kind of passion and determination necessary for success. In fact, they should not wait for PNoy’s endorsement. They must declare, seek and achieve the presidency independent of the endorsement. Besides, PNoy can only endorse a declared candidate.

If a Roxas-Poe tandem does not materialize because ambition is turned into an obsession, we should expect some frustration. Instead of just a Binay vs. Roxas battle, thus – giving the Filipino voters a clear choice, Poe joins the fray. Her candidacy will automatically attract another one whose mission is to question her qualifications as a presidential candidate to the end. It will also tempt Bongbong Marcos to run and my Bedan classmate, Rod Duterte can be lured back and he may succumb to the clamor of a sizeable number. Expect at least five (5) presidential candidates in 2016.

Why? Arithmetic!  Counting on his or her perceived base, a division will make each candidate think that the probabilities to win are there. 

Binay became VP in large part because he identified with PNoy under the NoyBi banner during the 2010 elections. Being in PNoy’s Cabinet, he continued to enjoy the benefits of such identification that included good and clean governance and high ratings until corruption charges against him erupted.  Binay’s resignation and attacks against PNoy make him an enemy. As expected, he is no longer the preferred choice to succeed PNoy as president. 

Poe topped the Senatorial elections first, because of the memory of her father (Fernando Poe, Jr.) and second, because of her identification with PNoy and “Tuwid na Daan” instead of the likes of Estrada, Enrile and Binay. There is nothing in her experience, expertise, and academic background that could propel her to the top in lawmaking like Claro Recto, Raul Manglapus, Manny Manahan, Lorenzo Sumulong, Arturo Tolentino, Jovito Salonga, Ninoy Aquino, and even Ferdinand Marcos. 

Neither is Grace Poe’s two-year experience and achievement as a Senator a good basis to deserve top billing as PNoy’s successor. Right now, her ratings and the above-mentioned reasons are the only justification. We know that these can change.

What happens if she runs but is not endorsed by PNoy? She would then be running against PNoy’s choice, and she has to promote not the “Tuwid na Daan” but “Ibang Daan”.  Will she retain the top ratings and win the presidency? This will depend on how much of the M’s (Money, Materials, Machinery, Manpower) she can muster; how her Message resonates; and how efficient and effective her Management team will be.

Paraphrasing Brutus’ words as applied to Poe, “ she was fortunate, I rejoice; but as she was ambitious, I slew her.” I expect numerous attempts from both her political enemies and some well-meaning citizens joining to thwart her ambition for the sake of the nation.
Poe is lucky to be getting so much attention at this point in time. But would she be as lucky to win the presidency and run the country? “Luck,” they say, “is when preparation meets opportunity.”

My barber agrees with the Words of Wisdom coming from seasoned and accomplished politician Senator Serge Osmeña when he said, “Mag VP muna si Grace Poe. Six years of preparation would make her a better President.”

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Presidency = Money, Machinery, Manpower, Message, Messenger, Management

I will be voting in two presidential elections in 2016 – one for President of the United States of America, and the other for President of the Philippines. This is resulting from my being a dual citizen.

I was also lucky to have had the opportunity to participate in several presidential and senatorial election campaigns in both countries.

It should be safe to say that I was also a keen observer of how national candidates could win in elections in either country.
 As I have explained in my previous columns, to be competitive in presidential elections, one must have what I call the M’s – Money (material resources); Machinery (organization up to the precinct level); Manpower (volunteers and paid employees); Message (Theme, PR, Ads, promotions); Management (Planning, Leading, Organizing and Controlling); and Messenger (credentialed candidate carrying the 4 Hs – Honesty, Hope, Honor, Humility).

In the United States, there are now 33 Republican (17 serious) declared presidential candidates. Four more are expected to announce their candidacies very soon. In the Democratic Party, there are 17 (4 serious) declared and exploratory candidates.

Which one survives in their respective primaries is very dependent upon how he or she can efficiently and effectively acquire, manage, and utilize the above-mentioned M’s to deliver the message and to obtain and deliver the votes.

In a capitalist democracy like the United States, there has been a lot of emphasis on the raising and spending of Money. This is especially after the SCOTUS ruling that

“Political spending is protected under the First Amendment, meaning corporations and unions could spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities, as long as it was done independently of a party or candidate.”

This is one big reason that, of all the Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton is predicted to be the party’s nominee. Just look at this report: “Among Democrats, Clinton’s lead is colossal. She had 72 percent of Democratic millionaires, and a sizable 23 percent of independent millionaires and 5 percent of Republican millionaires.”

In fact, Clinton is the top pick among 31 percent of millionaires followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush with 18 percent.

That’s just counting the millionaires. How about Clinton’s support among the billionaires?

In an interview, Warren Buffet, the third richest man in the world said, “I would bet even money that Clinton would win the presidency in 2016.”

Let me mention a few of the billionaires supporting Clinton: Alice Walton of Wal-Mart, George (father) and Jonathan (son) Soros, Laura Ricketts (owner of Chicago Cubs), Tom Steyer (The Green Billionaire), Steve Mostyn and Amber Anderson Mostyn, Tim Gill, Sean Parker (Tech investor), Alida Messinger (youngest daughter of John D. Rockefeller, Haim Saban (Entertainment Executive), Pat Stryker (Philanthropist), Nick Hanauer (Venture capitalist), S. Donald Sussman (newspaper owner), Jeffrey Katzenberg (CEO, Dream Works Animation).

The Republican candidates also have their group of millionaire and billionaire supporters led by the Koch brothers.

In the Philippines, the same type of financial supporters are expected but on a lesser degree.

In the 2010 presidential elections, it was to have been a battle of monetary resources. NP candidate Senator Manny Villar, a self-made billionaire, poured the required resources. LP candidate Noynoy Aquino had Cojuangco family support led by billionaire Tony Boy Cojuangco, the business community led by Cesar Purisima and of course, the Yellow group matched Villar’s resources. Erap Estrada still had his loyal financiers. Lakas-CMD candidate Gilbert Teodoro was banking on the substantial support from then President GMA. It never came.

Of course, the other M’s also played major roles in the eventual victory of Noynoy.

For the 2016 Presidential elections, the only declared candidate so far is VP Jojo Binay. The assumption is that he has been preparing for it and has amassed an amount sufficient to mount an effective campaign. The freezing of his and his alleged dummies’ bank accounts could reduce his campaign pot substantially. My barber suspects that “dirty” money from the “Lords” might find their way Into the campaign.

Of all the other potential candidates, Mar Roxas is the only person I know who can launch a very effective and efficient campaign because he has personal and family (Roxas-Araneta) resources, funding from friends, and business colleagues. The LP resources would increase it substantially. A PNoy endorsement would raise it exponentially.

The survey that could help would be that taken a few days before the elections. The only reliable one is the actual election. Until then, the battle is about delivering the Message by the right Messenger, and moving the Machinery and the Manpower to deliver and protect the votes by efficient and effective Management.

Unfortunately, it takes MONEY.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Residential POElitics

 In one of my previous blogs, “POElitics of Statelessness” I wrote dismissively,

“I do not think that she (Poe) would have a real problem defending her 10-year residency. The doctrine of “Animus revertendi” and jurisprudence provide sufficient evidence to support the Philippines as her “domicile” or legal residence for at least 10 years. Furthermore, there are sufficient factual circumstances showing that she actually resided – not just intended to return for a longer period.”

This was after studying the relevant law and jurisprudence involving residency requirements for Philippine national officials. Many legal luminaries like former Supreme Court Chief Justice Art Panganiban, former COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Ateneo School of Government Dean Antonio la Vina, noted election law practitioner Romulo Makalintal and legal writer Mel Sta. Maria have very compelling and convincing similar views.

Surprisingly, a great number of law experts take the opposite view siding with UNA spokesman Toby Tiongko who first publicly claimed that Senator Poe is disqualified from being a candidate for President of the Philippines because she lacks the required 10-year residency. Among these law experts are former UP Law Dean Pacifico Agabin, former UE Law Dean Amado Valdez, IBP National President Vicente Joyas, and famous international lawyer Harry Roque.

Upon hearing my views and those of the law experts I discussed, my barber readily took my side. In fact, he wanted me to simplify it so he would be able to explain the same at the barbershop.

Section 2, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution provides, “No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.”

“Election” in this case is Monday, May 9, 2016.  “Immediately preceding” is May 8, 2016. “At least ten years” means it can be eleven, fifteen, twenty or any number above ten years. “Resident of the Philippines” means legally residing (not necessarily physical) or domiciled  in the Philippines.

All together it means that on May 8, 2016, Senator Grace Poe must have legally resided for a total of at least ten years in the Philippines. Contrary to the understanding of those who want her disqualified, the 10-year residency requirement DOES NOT mean “ten (10) continuous period of residence in the Philippines.” All Poe has to show is that the Philippines was her domicile for at least ten years.

If it meant a “continuous period of residence for at least ten (10) years”, it should have provided it. Like in the case of Section 2 of the Philippine Revised Naturalization Law, it provided that a foreigner applying for Philippine citizenship must meet among others the following qualifications: “He must have resided in the Philippines for a continuous period of not less than ten (10) years.”

For Filipinos who followed the path to U.S. citizenship, they must be familiar with the requirement that under U.S. Immigration Law, the applicant “Has resided continuously within the United States, as defined under Subsection 316.5, for at least 5 years after having been lawfully admitted for permanent residence.”
(Revised 2/3/95; 60 FR 6647)

Has Senator Grace Poe legally resided in the Philippines for at least ten (10) years? The answer is obviously YES!

The facts cannot be denied. She was born in Jaro, Iloilo on September 3, 1968. Qualified for admission due to age, she was enrolled at St. Paul’s College and spent at least six (6) years there. Then she moved to Assumption College in San Lorenzo, Makati finishing her high school in four (4) years. For college, she spent two (2) years at the University of the Philippines before moving to Boston College in Massachusetts, USA where she completed her college degree in 1991.

After getting married later on, she and her family resided in Fairfax, Virginia which is not too far from where I currently live. Working as a teacher in a Montessori school for three (3) years (1995-1998) and at a U.S. Geological company for another 3-4 years, she went back to the Philippines in 2003 to help in the presidential campaign of her father, Fernando Poe, Jr. She returned to the United States after the elections to join her family, only to go back to the Philippines in December 2004 due to her father’s death.  

Returning to Fairfax, Virginia after FPJ’s funeral, Grace Poe and Neil Llamanzares decided to pack up, sell their house, and re-establish the Philippines as their physical residence. Once in the country, she assumed her position as Vice President/Treasurer of FPJ productions in charge of the more than 200 movies of her father in the archives. She registered as a voter and became politically active helping causes that FPJ was fighting for. She also renounced her allegiance to and citizenship of the United States and accepted the position of Chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) in 2010. In the Senatorial elections of 2013, she ran under PNoy’s “Tuwid na Daan” banner and obtained the highest number of votes. Now the surveys are showing that she is the preferred successor of PNoy.

An analysis of the facts stated above and the wonders of Arithmetic show, that if Senator Poe decides to run for President or Vice President on May 9, 2016, she would more than fulfill the residency requirement of least ten (10) years.

Her critics make a big deal of what she put in her Certificate of Candidacy filed in October 2012 for the 2013 Senatorial elections. The truth is, the Supreme Court in a similar case cited by the above-mentioned legal luminaries stated:

“It is the fact of residence, not a statement in a certificate of candidacy which ought to be decisive in determining whether or not an individual has satisfied the constitution’s residency qualification requirement.”

Furthermore, as discussed above, what the law contemplates is not whether a candidate has continuously resided for ten (10) years but whether he or she has resided for at least ten (10) years immediately preceding the election.