The long story: My choices for 2016

FYI: The title is seriously true. Like 2,400 words. It tells you the story of how I arrived at my choices for 2016.

I have written frequently about the elections as an opportunity for the country to start anew and take a new direction. I have no illusions that it could mean radical change, mind you. But I honestly believe that we all deserve the break – and we could possibly win that in clean and credible elections.

It took so long to decide because the candidates never ran in direct opposition to Daang Matuwid until the last few weeks. From the start, the candidates tried to pander to President Aquino and only stopped until his trust ratings fell and people demanded answers to important questions.

I have questions as I journeyed towards a decision: If 2016 is the year of change, who could best represent and lead it? Who could inspire the nation around a set of goals that would benefit farmers, workers, the middle class, entrepreneurs and OFWs? Who is the Digital Leader we are looking for?

DUTERTE_PANGASINAN_07_RINOZA_280316Duterte rises

Mayor Rodrigo Duterte electrifies the nation, especially Mindanao, over the prospect of one of its leaders becoming president. It is a dream I absolutely honor, and everyone should do too. I am sure the great people of Davao and the rest of Mindanao are mighty proud of the distance Duterte has reached thus far.

Duterte’s boldness inspires loyalty to many and fear for some. He offered a marked contrast to the ineptness and lack of empathy of the current president. His “tapang and malasakit” captures the “feels” of the Filipino. He commits to an 8-point platform, the barest of the lot.

If you watched the last debate, I hope you remembered Duterte’s answers about Mindanao and the Bangsamoro. Mindanao has all the right to love him the way they do. Only Duterte was intelligent and informed enough to explain quickly the historical claims of the Bangsamoro and the deep roots of the Mindanao conflict.

Duterte also signals a break from the present “war policy” against the New People’s Army. That he considers them first and foremost as Filipinos is a 180-degree turn from the blood-thirsty demonification of Filipino communists under this administration.

Not a few once thought that I was secretly rooting for Duterte. The most malicious even went so far as to steal my identity, posed as me over at Reddit, and maliciously introduced me as Duterte’s social media director. For somebody who has publicly challenged candidates to appoint social media directors, I would have proudly announced it to the world that I was appointed by Duterte and claim that unique distinction for his campaign. But he did not appoint me. And I wasn’t even a part of the campaign. I have lots of friends who joined the Duterte campaign and we are still friends.

I believe drugs, crime and corruption are legit problems. They really are. They have become a pain and a shame to the nation due to the ineptitude of officials. But I don’t think those are the biggest problems of the country. A wrong diagnosis of the problems would result in the wrong solutions.

Duterte supporters say it is the oligarchs who are causing problems, maybe the oligarchy’s control of land, wealth and power should be the target. That’s a different kind of addiction and crime – requiring extraordinary toughness and an aware and conscientious citizenry ready to do a seemingly-endless battle to finally dispossess them of the tools they use to harass and harangue the people. We hope to hear something from Duterte about this. That is a fight that the country is begging to be waged.

BinayOneCebuUna_Cebu_13_deVela_16022016 Binay 

I also looked at Vice President Jejomar Binay who I voted for in 2010 because he was the most accomplished among all candidates at the time.

Actually, he is the most experienced executive among this year’s candidates: mayor, governor, vice president, housing czar. His platform is sweeping, thoughtful and refreshing.

But he stayed in the cabinet of the president for too long, and failed to credibly lead the opposition when he belatedly left. The lawyer in him thought the public will not consider the still-to-be proven charges against him. It may have become too late for him to realize that the public has looked past him.

miriamsantiago Miriam

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago meanwhile is the most brilliant and the only constitutionalist among them. She was the most popular online and the toast of social media, prior to the campaign.

She is also today’s most reliable patriot in the Senate. We need more Miriams in a Senate dominated by Drilons.

The broad strokes of her plan of action and her natural gift as a teacher – again captivated students and youth this 2016. They have every reason to be proud of their choice. I am happy for them.

Yet it was painful to watch her at the final debate. For me, her health and her continued service in the Senate should be more important. Yes, despite her violent objections. Her choice of runningmate stunned and stung the nation, and helped empower the remorseless son of the dictator. One of the mysteries of this campaign, the VP pick complicated youth support for her.

GP_ANGELES_5Poe

I have met Senator Grace Poe at one of the hearings for the Freedom of Information Bill that she shepherded through the Senate. She struck me as intelligent, composed, compassionate and in command of the issue. She listened to everyone, took notes, asked thoughtful questions, sought advice and expressed gratitude.

Poe’s platform for a “Gobyernong May Puso” rivals the other candidates in terms of breadth and depth, and its responses to people’s most urgent concerns. Take a good lo
ok because it is hard not to like.

A major point is Poe’s readiness to be the country’s Digital Leader. Look:

 

  • Formulate and issue a comprehensive IT industry plan. Enact ICT policies that are modern and future-ready and could respond to ever changing technologies of the industry.
  • Establish a separate Department of ICT to manage, develop, and regulate telecommunications and connectivity in the country.
  • Establish a National Broadband Network that will greatly improve our nationwide connectivityAside from passing the Magna Carta on Philippine Internet Freedom, we will keep the country more efficiently connected by formulating a comprehensive IT industry plan, which will not only include the strengthening of nationwide ICT connectivity, speed, and affordability, but will also establish a National Broadband Network to improve our nationwide capability for interconnectivity. Our IT industry plan will also include the promotion of investment to ICT infrastructure and development of the Philippines as the center of investments for IT-BPO-KPO industries. A Department of ICT will spearhead such programs alongside an e-Government masterplan to be developed through multi-sectoral initiatives.

Poe also has great plans for workers, OFWs, tax reform, and even for arts and cultural heritage.

Come to think of it, a lesser person would not have survived the most brutal and barbaric attacks leveled against Poe: Her very identity as a foundling and as citizen was questioned. Her innocent family dragged into the mess.

Poe became the first and only Filipino foundling to have been asked to find/prove her Filipino parentage, when all the foundlings have been presumed as natural-born Filipino citizens. She was also the first balikbayan demonized for reclaiming that same natural-born Filipino citizenship – a completely legal option allowed under our laws, customs and traditions.

Sa totoo lang, kung talagang seryoso ang mga nagsasabi na di siya Pilipino, dapat di sila huminto hangga’t di siya natanggal siya sa Senado na para lang sa natural-born Filipino citizens. But obviously, the foundling and citizenship issues were just used for political purposes – only to sabotage her presidential campaign.

Can she fully recover from the dastardly attacks on her person and family? I think so. Because those attacks were fact-free and so thoroughly un-Filipino. At the close of the campaign, Poe remained the most trusted candidate with majority 54 percent trust ratings.

When Mar Roxas ambushed her on national TV about “unity talks”, she stood her ground and gave him all the space he needed to expose himself as the worst and most desperate candidate of the 2016 elections.

Roxas courted her, then defamed her for turning him down, smeared her over invented citizenship issues, slandered her as “unready” during the campaign, used a press conference to pompously invite her to talk “unity” – only to swiftly call Poe “selfish” when she politely turned her down.

People saw through Roxas’ bullshit, and they congratulated Poe for her firm and principled rejection.

The clincher perhaps is Neri Colmenares, my idol and my Senate candidate. Poe proclaimed him as her first senatorial candidate. That counts. And then Poe also signed an alliance agreement with Makabayan on addressing the most urgent social, political and economic reforms. That again counts.

For me, these mean that she respects Colmenares, Makabayan and the progressive politics they represent. That the heart of the government is truly inclusive that it is comfortable and proud to involve progressives. (Or for the language of those who casually exclude others: the Reds.)

11_roxas2The kontrabida and the demolition jobs

Mar Roxas wasn’t a choice from the very beginning. He is the candidate of the past. I disagree that he is an apologist. He does not offer any apologies for the mess of Daang Matuwid. He is proud of them and his minions downplay people’s grievances, issues, concerns and criticisms as mere “hate”.

But the administration and his campaign had a long-term plan for 2016. The campaign didn’t end. Immediately, the president’s and his minions gave Binay the dual-treatment: Appointed to the cabinet, but subjected to a slow but sure political assassination. Never mind that he was the duly-elected Vice President. He must be destroyed for beating Roxas and thus becoming the strongest threat then to a Roxas presidential candidacy.

I’m not a total fan of Binay but it beggars the senses that some would deny him his due process rights under the law. He should be tried in court, and not the Senate. By 2015, Binay was a marked man, humiliated, destroyed in an orgy of hearings presided by pro-administration senators. The educated cheered even the dastardly use of “nognog” – how educated – in the “just cause” of bringing down a “corrupt” foe. Not a shred of disrespect was left for the Office of the Vice President. (And the same cretins who debased the office through unremitting insults are now seeking to restore its honor through their pet candidate.)

While that was happening, Roxas and Aquino courted Poe. The courtship was long and public. And it ended with Poe thinking she would be better off staying independent. She didn’t know what depths of hatred and humiliation would be inflicted against her.

When it was clear the torch had been passed to Poe, she suddenly and conveniently became unqualified. Roxas, who used to court her, led the chorus of beasts who successfully conned the nation to disown one of her own citizens. Fact-free and fact-resistant. Some members of the diplomatic corps who are immune to the effects of trolling and bullshit were surprised that Poe was being made to prove her natural-born citizenship – when it should be the obligation of her accusers. But the trolling and the participation of legal eagles brought the issue to the Supreme Court. We had to bother the magistrates whose decision lectured us about facts, fact-finding, common sense and the simple, naked meaning of the laws.

That to me was the first major trolling incident in this country, and it took the Supreme Court to stop it. The media played along with the trolls and trolled the nation by giving equal prominence to both decision and dissenting opinions – as if they weigh the same. It enabled the trolls who continue to use the dissents to slander the court victor Poe. The “disentes” absolutely don’t care.

Duterte was next. He is the first to admit he is imperfect. He is not as articulate – or proper. But humility did not save him. It only angered the Yellows. How dare this mayor challenge Roxas? And so the minions capitalized on legitimate fears and valid questions on issues from rape comments, extrajudicial killings, legal shortcuts. (Meanwhile the educated and the “disentes” responded to trolls, giving them the attention and prominence they craved. The Yellow trolls fought the new ones, and created new poser ones to make the public hate Duterte. Ultimately, trolling became the social media face of the campaign.)

All of a sudden, in the last few days of the campaign, the President ends his Noynoying to announce grimly that he was ready to die for democracy. All of a sudden, Duterte became the enemy. All of a sudden, Roxas had a chance because he is supposedly good and Duterte evil. The first negative TV ad. Phony surveys by a fake survey firm. Roxas tried again to ambush Poe with an offer of a talks via presscon.  You know the rest.

“Fuck Makati. Fuck overseas Filipinos. Fuck Mindanao. Fuck the Bisayas. Fuck the consensus for change. Fuck the voters. We alone get to decide who runs and who wins. Save Daang Matuwid at all costs.”

I had to take note of these – not just because I might forget. But more importantly, we have to see the systematic, sustained and unapologetic cutting down of all our choices aside from Roxas. Those candidates aren’t perfect but they are not as evil as the demolition jobs sought to portray them. The Daang Matuwid and “disente” brand of politics wanted us to demonize our own choices and in the end fall for Roxas. I also think it should be a factor as we make our final choices.

Tonight, I could say I would be okay whoever among Duterte, Poe, Binay and Miriam would win.

MY CHOICES

PGP

All things considered, I’m voting for Senator Grace Poe for president.

I’m also voting for Senator Chiz Escudero for vice president.

Escudero is an accomplished lawmaker with a raft of human rights legislation under his name. He has never been directly implicated in any anomaly, despite insinuations. And I actually admire that he speaks in Filipino. I honestly don’t understand why people make fun of how he speaks. The mean-ness is not an ineligibility or disqualification for public office.

He has voluntarily signed bank secrecy waivers in the past few years – without blown-out media coverage. He was a great Minority Leader when we tried to impeach GMA for her criminal offenses. He is an ally of progressive lawmakers and activists.

He could beat the dictator’s son. He could be a good vice president. And he could be a good president, if the situation summons him for it.

I’m voting for 12 senatoriables – except for one, they would all be first-time senators. I’m not a fan of giving another six years to reelectionist and returning senators who have already spent 12, 18 or 24 years in the Senate. I don’t agree with all of their positions, but the combination of names strikes me as better, brighter and truly more diverse than what we see in the Senate today.

Rep. Neri Colmenares (11) – my candidate
Atty. Allan Montano (31) – labor lawyer
Rep. Roman Romulo (44) – lawmaker
Vice Mayor Isko Moreno (13) – local executive
Atty. Lorna Kapunan (22) – lawyer
Rep. Win Gatchalian (17) – lawmaker
Rep. Walden Bello (8) – fiscalizer
Rafael Alunan (3) – executive
Susan Ople (34) – advocate
Princess Jacel Kiram (23) – Muslims
Joel Villanueva (49) – a friend
Sen. TG Guingona (19) – on his first reelection

DISPLAY-PHOTORounding up my national candidates is MIGRANTE OFW PARTYLIST (70) for partylist representative.

It gets my vote because of two reasons: (1) OFWs should the best representatives in Congress; and (2) It is time to open Congress to the expertise of Filipinos who have helped build the economies of other countries.

And that’s the long story of how I arrived at my choices for 2016.

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