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,  “...as 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, “...as 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.”

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