Wednesday, September 30, 2015

In Aid of Leni Robredo’s Discernment

The Liberal Party was set to announce Roxas’ running mate and its Senatorial slate tomorrow, September 30, 2015 as I write this column. But reports say that the announcement has been delayed until Monday, October 5th.

I understand that Rep. Leni Robredo is still discerning and praying as she decides whether to accept the offer of President Benigno Aquino III, and the LP Presidential standard bearer Mar Roxas to be the Vice Presidential candidate.

Her concerns that needed discernment include the following: apparent objections from her children; her low poll ratings – meaning winnability; her seeming inadequate qualifications to be VP; and although not being mentioned, insufficient resources to fund an efficient and effective national campaign.

Children’s Objections

Aika who studied Management Engineering at Ateneo University is now 28 years old. She is now gainfully employed. Tricia is 21 and studying at the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health. She works at the ABS-CBN and the Jesse Robredo Foundation.  Jillian is 15 and wants to follow the footsteps of Kris Aquino.

I do not think that their objection is because of their mother’s involvement in politics. She already is. Their father has been in it since their childhood. It is really more because, at this time, it is a bigger stage – more challenges, more involvement, more sacrifices, more commitments, more responsibilities.

On the other hand, it also presents certain opportunities made available as they contemplate a career path for the present and the future.

Endowed with love for country and nation, I am certain that they would be willing to share their mother and her God-given talents to the Filipino people at this time of our history. Why? They are their father’s and their mother’s children.

Low Poll Ratings – Winnability

Numbers tell good stories. Surveys are attractive because they are indicators of a candidate’s standing from the electorate at the time they were taken. So they change in time. What really counts are the actual votes delivered on Election Day, or the most reliable survey if ever, would have to be that taken a few days before.

In most cases, the surveys or statistics as a science is very dependent upon the reliability of the numerical data being analyzed. Scientifically chosen, a group of would-be voters numbering less than 2000 were relied upon by both Pulse Asia and SWS. Yet the results, although mere projections or estimates, seem to be accepted by most including the candidates themselves like Rep. Leni Robredo.

In a previous column/blog, I did an analysis of the results of the 2013 Senatorial Elections. The numbers reflected real votes counted and they amounted to millions. In the battle of coalitions, Team PNoy (Daang Matuwid) clobbered VP Binay’s UNA. There were nine (9) winners belonging to Team PNoy while there were only 3 among UNA candidates. 

A deeper analysis of the results in the regions and the bailiwicks of the leaders would give you very interesting results.


The Visayans and the Bicolanos delivered 10 winners for Team PNoy and only 2 UNA. The Mindanao provinces including the Muslims delivered 9-3 while NCR and all the Regions north of it delivered 8 – 4.

The Bicolanos made sure that 7 of the 9 UNA candidates led by Estrada and Enrile would not make it to the Magic 12. The Ilonggos and the Cebuanos also made sure that 7 out of 9 UNA candidates led by Estrada and Enrile would not make the winning 12.  

What this meant was that the Visayans led by Roxas and Drilon delivered to deserve the 2016 Presidential endorsement and the Senate Presidency, respectively.  It also meant that the Bicolanos led by Robredo and LP followers delivered to deserve and reserve the Vice Presidential seat for their region in 2016.


In Makati (Binay’s Bailiwick), Team PNoy had 8 winners while UNA only had 4. In fact, Nancy Binay was only No. 3 and Jack Enrile No. 17. In San Juan (Estrada’s Bailiwick), Team PNoy had 8 winners while UNA 4. JV Ejercito Estrada was only No. 2, Nancy Binay No. 14, and Jack Enrile No. 18. In Cagayan (Enrile’s Bailiwick), the results are the same – Team PNoy 8, UNA 4. But Jack Enrile was No. 1, Nancy Binay No.2, JV E. Estrada, No. 8.

In Tarlac (PNoy’s Bailiwick), Team PNoy had 9 winners, UNA 3. In Iloilo (Drilon’s Bailiwick), Team PNoy had 10 winners, UNA only 2. In Capiz, (Roxas’ Bailiwick), Team PNoy had 11 winners, UNA only 1.

Based on this analysis, there is a desire by the Filipino voters for Daang Matuwid to continue; that a Visayan deserves to be the next President, and someone from Bicol should be Vice President.
Rep. Leni Robredo humbly thinks that she is not ready to occupy a position as high as Vice President. PNoy, Mar Roxas, the Liberal Party, the Yellow Army, groups from the civil society, netizens and many more think otherwise. Not only does she have the legal qualifications including citizenship and residency, she has the academic and professional preparation and work experiences. She is an economist and lawyer. In fact, she was a human rights lawyer providing free legal assistance to the needy. She worked with NGOs in providing assistance to the poor and the hungry. She assisted her late husband Jesse in becoming a very efficient and effective DILG Secretary and as an Award-Winning Mayor of Naga. Within a short period of time, she had a good record of outstanding achievements as a Congresswoman representing Naga.

Most importantly, Leni embodies Humility, Honesty, Honor, and Hope. Supply creates its own demand. Once Leni becomes known for what she is nationally, the demand would be there.

This is the last thing that she should worry about. Running with Mar Roxas and fully supported by PNoy and the Liberal Party and its allies, both will not only have the Message (Daang Matuwid), the Machinery (Precinct level), Manpower (Volunteers and paid employees), and Money, but also competent Management to efficiently and effectively run a winning campaign.

This is in aid of Leni Robredo’s discernment. It comes with ardent, powerful, and most heartfelt prayers.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Presidential Race: BI RO POe (Binay, Roxas, Poe). No joke!

The Presidential Race


Vice President Jojo Binay is in the race. He became a presidential candidate the moment he took his oath as Vice President. As promoted by the NoyBi (Noynoy-Binay) supporters, he was perceived as a loyal part of the PNoy Team and administration. He was given the luxurious Coconut Palace as his VP office and assigned two Cabinet portfolios (Housing and OFW Concerns). In 2013, he showed his true colors by forming the opposition coalition named UNA together with Senator Juan Enrile and former President Erap Estrada. UNA supported Senatorial and other candidates opposing those of PNoy’s “Daang Matuwid” Team. But he maintained his Cabinet portfolios even after the elections. It was only recently (after 5 years) that he gave them up and started attacking the PNoy administration that he was part of.

After enjoying top presidential preference for about 5 years, he was finally relegated to a lower rung by the voters. This is probably because of the corruption allegations hurled against him at the Senate investigations and those of the Ombudsman. The fact that he is no longer perceived as part of the PNoy Team could also be a factor.


Former Senator and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas is also in the race. In fact, he is PNoy’s anointed and the LP (Liberal Party) standard bearer.  He is credited for being the co-pilot of PNoy in conceiving, planning, and implementing the relatively successful “Daang Matuwid” and anti-corruption campaign programs. Of course, he was also considered a partner of the PNoy Team that is credited for the country’s unprecedented economic recovery and growth as recognized by international agencies.

A former Congressman and Senator, a former Trade Secretary under three Presidents, a former Transportation Secretary, and lately, DILG Secretary, he has plenty of record to check - his experience, achievements, and mistakes. His record could then be compared to those of Binay, Poe, and other candidates who may still declare.

His anointment by PNoy was expected as he was indeed according to the President, “in the best position to continue the Daang Matuwid program of government.” The latest SWS survey now shows that he is no. 2 in the race. Another poll shows that he is statistically tied with Poe and Binay.


Senator Grace Poe is definitely in the race. A former Chairwoman of the MTRCB, she is now a Senator - having topped the 2013 Senatorial elections. She is also the top presidential preference of the voters according to the last surveys. But at the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), losing Senatorial candidate Rizalito David is now questioning her qualifications. It is focused on whether she is a natural-born Filipino citizen by virtue of the fact that she is a “foundling”. I have expressed my legal opinion on this matter previously. I maintained that there were no laws, both local and customary international law, that would support any assertion that a Filipino foundling like Grace Poe could be considered natural-born.

I listened to the Oral Arguments at the SET. I heard the questions asked and the answers of both the counsels of the petitioner (David), and the respondent (Poe). The questions and the conclusion derived from SET Chairman SC Justice Antonio Carpio was most revealing. He said after a series of questions: “Grace Poe is a naturalized Filipino citizen but NOT a natural-born Filipino.”

Probably to neutralize the impact of such a conclusion, Poe’s lawyer announced that his client had undergone some DNA tests and would release the results soon hoping to prove that Poe is indeed a natural-born Filipino by blood.

Other qualifications

Amidst the existence of certain legal requirements as provided in the Constitution such as Age, Literacy, Residency, and Citizenship, a maturing democracy like the Philippines seems to demand a little more in the choice of the presidency. We have had models that experienced running or helping run a large government bureaucracy.

Senator Serge Osmena III, a veteran lawmaker, close adviser of Grace Poe and one who helped her in the 2013 Senatorial elections had this to say:

"She would make a better president, if she has six years of vice president, because she’s fairly new in this game. This is not all about national politics and winning the elections. After that, the big work comes, the headache comes, running the country. At nakikita natin, napakahirap noon. If you stumble around, then the whole country stumbles with you”.

Her own cousin, Sheryl Cruz, daughter of Rosemarie Sonora and Ricky Belmonte, also expressed this view: “It’s a bit abrupt for her to run in 2016, and popularity cannot be translated into capability. She’ll make a fine president come 2022.”

Cruz said she did not want to “belittle” her cousin’s capabilities, but neither did she want “to leave the country’s future to chance.”
“The lives of its citizens are not a game of chance,” she added.

Of course, PNoy, Mar Roxas, Butch Abad, and the Liberal Party also wanted her included in their long-term succession program by grooming her to be Vice President first. This is for her to prepare for the Presidency. Hours, nights, dinners, and plenty of discussions and presidential efforts to convince her did not overcome her ambition and the influence of Chiz Escudero who wants to be Vice President.

I even devised and proposed a formula that would guarantee her to be President after Roxas.

She probably thought that if she is that “good”, why wait? Walang Forever!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Presidential POElitics: Real or Reel?

Now that Grace Poe decided to run for President of the Philippines, she is now what my barber calls, “fair game”, meaning – open for scrutiny. After all, she is seeking the office with awesome powers and correspondingly, with awesome and tremendous responsibilities.

In William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar Act III Scene 2”, I remember reading and hearing two quotes from two excellently delivered oratorical pieces by two famous political animals during the Empirical Rome Era.

First was that of Marcus Brutus as he justified killing Julius Caesar,
“As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;
as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was
valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I
slew him.”

Second was that of Mark Anthony as he defended Julius Caesar,
“When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff

These words remind me of Grace Poe’s situation as she announced her decision to run for President. Coincidentally, the two quotes apply to her.

As her critics would say, “for she was too ambitious, we now have to ‘slay’ her. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff – meaning, ambition itself does not get a job done. It must be combined with the necessary experience, qualifications, determination, perseverance, and a passion to get the job done well.

Three times she was offered to run for Vice President with ample support and an almost guaranteed Presidency in 2022. Three times she refused. Five to six years of Vice Presidency and running a Cabinet department like DSWD to win the “war against poverty” or DILG to localize and distribute resources and power would have been an effective preparation.

But she thinks that because of her ratings, she deserves the Presidency more than anybody else. Why? Chiz Escudero who wants to be Vice President says so.

My barber watched Grace Poe’s announcement. He tells me that she looked like she was campaigning for President of the UP Student Council. He felt sad. I told him about my slogan when I ran for President of the San Beda College Student Council – “MAyNIGONG BAGONG PAG-ASA.” That of Poe is “MAY BAGONG UMAGA”.

At this point in our history, the Philippines deserves to be more discriminating especially in the choice of Presidency. During PNoy’s tenure we have witnessed unprecedented economic progress recognized by the international community, and an undeniable success in our on-going battle against corruption.

There are things left undone. For the sake of continuity and stability, the people deserve to have someone who shares PNoy’s “Daang Matuwid” Program of Government. They deserve a successor who is the most prepared to continue the programs and one who, like PNoy, would provide the Filipino people Hope, Honor, Honesty, and Humility in government.

The candidates should be scrutinized to the minutest details how their academic preparation and work experiences match with the tremendous duties of being President.

Did her political science degree earned in the U.S. prepare her for the Philippine presidency? Was her three-year experience as a pre-school teacher at Montessori School or employment at the US Geological Survey Company helpful in preparing her to exercise the awesome Executive Powers? Was managing the FPJ Productions and the MTRCB sufficient experience to run a government bureaucracy of about 1.5 million employees?

One must have sufficient knowledge and exposure to the Executive Powers that include: Power of Appointment; Power of Removal: Power of Control; Military Powers; Pardoning Power; Borrowing Power; Diplomatic Power; Budgetary Power; Informing Power; and many other powers granted to the President under the Constitution and by statutes. Does Grace Poe have these?

She has admittedly renounced first, her Philippine citizenship, then, her American citizenship. Does she know that as President she would have Power over Aliens? In fact, the chief executive may have an alien in the Philippines deported from the country after due process. The President may also change the status of a foreigner, as prescribed by law, from a non-immigrant status to a permanent resident status without necessity of visa. Will her husband and children remain as American citizens?

There are six issuances that the President may issue. They are the following as defined in the Administrative Code of 1987: Executive Orders; Administrative Orders; Proclamations; Memorandum Orders; Memorandum Circulars; and General or Special Orders. While style could be provided by experienced civil servants, providing its contents, and knowing when to issue them would be useful.

The lines have been drawn. Binay and Poe chose to be on one side while “Daang Matuwid” is on the right side. The issues will be more defined as the campaign progresses and as the candidates are scrutinized. The people will examine the candidate’s vision: enlightened reality or cinematographic and reel.

We hope to see Pope Francis next week. As we all know he prayed to God Almighty “PNoy and the Filipino people be given plentiful blessings of peace, prosperity, discernment, and wisdom.”

Thursday, September 10, 2015

DUTERTE: Dynamic, Daring, Decisive, Dutiful and Devoted Dad of Davao

My Bedan classmate Mayor Rod Duterte just announced his final decision not to run for President of the Philippines.

It is unfortunate because his withdrawal means the Filipino people are denied an alternative vision for the country’s future as reflected by Rod’s unwavering commitment to institute radical changes in our society. A great number of Filipinos like and love what he did in Davao City and even more want him to lead the nation. Hence, the clamor for him to run for President.

For the radical changes to take effect, he thinks that a Revolutionary Government should be set-up. The truth is, he does not have to run for President to establish what he wishes. If the next administration messes up, be it corrupt or “Daang Baluktot”, Rod could galvanize his more than 3 million followers who signed the petition clamoring for him to run for President. He has a greater and stronger base than Aguinaldo when the latter set up a revolutionary government in 1898. The number of people during the 1986 EDSA revolution was less when Cory Aquino established a revolutionary government. Let it be a warning to these ambitious presidential candidates!

In order to enforce the laws efficiently, effectively, aggressively, and honestly, he had indicated that if he becomes President he would appoint fellow Bedan Vitaliano Aguirre as Secretary of Justice. The latter is the topnotch private prosecutor who covered his ears and defied Senator Miriam Santiago during the impeachment trial of CJ Corona. He is also the Class Valedictorian of San Beda Law Class 71 that included two of the current Supreme Court Justices.

The truth is, he does not have to run for President to get Aguirre appointed as Secretary of Justice. I suggest that in exchange for Rod to support PNoy’s choice (Roxas who is from the South), he should ask that Aguirre replace de Lima (also a Bedan) as DOJ Secretary when she resigns and runs for the Senate. This includes a commitment that Roxas reappoints Aguirre when the former wins. This guarantees continuity coupled with brilliance and incorruptibility.

He also expressed the view that he could cause the death of as many as 100,000 criminals if he becomes President. Admittedly, he actually does not want to kill people.

Of course, we know that one does not have to be President to cause the killing of criminals. Vigilantes and death squads have done it in some urban areas.

Mayor Duterte had already said publicly that he would not endorse VP Binay. I do not believe that he would allow an inexperienced public servant like Grace Poe to run the country with all its problems.

I join others in praying that Mayor Duterte continues to serve the country in some other ways and that God blesses him with greater health, discernment, and wisdom as he provides the Filipino people an alternative vision.