Smoke On Roxas

When you come to think about it, Mar Roxas probably has one of the most impressive résumés among candidates on the road to the 2016 elections. Roxas is the scion of two powerful families in both politics and industry (lest we forget that Mar is the son of a Senator and the grandson of a former President, and is also the grandson of the man who built the Araneta real estate empire). He’s an Ivy League graduate: he is an economist from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He spent years as a financial hotshot in New York, making a name for himself in the world of capital and investments. He’s a former Congressman, a former Senator (garnering the most votes for any candidate in a national election, at that), and held three different Cabinet positions under three different administrations.

While other prospective candidates have to blow smoke (like, say, turning the Philippines “into Makati”) to curry favor among the people and win their votes this early (at least one had to figuratively/literally blow someone’s rocks off), Roxas is—on paper—the most qualified. One may even say that he’s destined to be President: a man born and bred to be in Malacañang. Rightly or wrongly, Roxas has a very clear advantage among others through his position of privilege.

… I’m not even sure. Photo from Oras Na, Roxas Na

The problem is, that’s not exactly how Roxas is packaged. And as it turns out, it’s a really big problem.

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Madrigal: The Non-Contender

Jamby Madrigal, for many voters, is the statistical pariah of the 2010 Presidential elections: the ultimate in un-winnability.  Madrigal is the outlier in a normal curve on a very different graph, so to speak.  Every other candidate can pull out track record: hers being that of advocacy for women, children, and fair economic policies.  Every other candidate can pull out evidence of winning, at this point in the elections: you have Villar and Aquino on surveys, Gibo eyeballing his campaign sorties, Gordon generating buzz on the Internet, Villanueva on his prayer rallies, Erap’s massive support base from his days as a film and media superstar, and the likes of Perlas not believing it at all.  She’s the only woman running for President right now, which should give her mileage.

All other things being equal, Jamby should be a contender.  Factors included, Jamby should be the attack dog nipping at the heels of the very candidate she’s running against.  Yet she’s not, she isn’t, and with close to two weeks to the May 10 national elections, she never will.

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Richard Gordon: The Dark Horse

His most loyal supporters thrust and harp on the credentials and qualifications that make him who he is: 33 years of executive experience, two terms as Mayor of Olongapo City, 1971 Con-Con delegate, Subic Bay Metropolitan Area Chairman, Secretary of Tourism, 40 years of volunteer work for the Philippine National Red Cross, six years in the Senate, 270 authored bills and resolutions, 13 enacted laws.  In one long sentence, that’s Richard Gordon.

In many respects, Richard “Dick” Gordon should be a contender, if not the contender, for the most powerful position in Philippine politics.  If the Presidency is all a matter of credentials and qualifications – as some of his most loyal supporters believe – then Gordon should have the two leading contenders quaking in their boots.  Gordon has it all: the administrative and legislative background needed to run a country, and lead it to progress.  Gordon took up the challenge and made his bid.

Yet perhaps the most qualified man with all the credentials needed to run a country, command the votes of millions, and earn the mandate of a nation is at the bottom of the surveys (which, again, to his most loyal supporters, do not matter).  Richard Gordon is not doing well: the lack of machinery, the lack of funding, and adopting into technology too little, too late.  The way things are looking now, Dick Gordon is not poised to win the Presidency anytime soon.  Gordon is not jockeying for position with the likes of Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar, but the scraps that fall up from the table with Jamby Madrigal, Eddie Villanueva, and Nicanor Perlas.

Gordon is definitely no longer a contender.  Then again, I can be wrong: Gordon can be the dark horse of the 2010 Presidential race.  That all begs us to ask: why?

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Estrada: The Vendetta Brother

The political milieu of an entire generation was molded around the contempt of the people against Former President Joseph Estrada.  He is, after all, a very good example of what we don’t want from a President, whether it’s superficial or something that runs deep into our political consciousness.  Countless times, Estrada has proven himself to be a man without remorse: whether it’s for womanizing, drinking, his lack of education compared to his peers, plunder.  Pardoned after what passes for a prison sentence, Erap is back in the game: seemingly running for the Presidency for the sole purpose of vindicating himself.

In any other society – even within this one – where shame and dishonor is carried through entire lifetimes and generations, Erap seems to be the exemption, as he was years ago when he governed without regard for it.  Yet from a certain perspective, Erap deserves to run, if only to take back the Presidency which, in yet another brazen note, he thinks of a trophy rather than a mandate.  After EDSA II, with the massive discontent that followed the administration that replaced him, Erap sees his bid for the Presidency as vindication.  As vendetta upon those who have taken him out.  To vindicate himself in the eyes of the populace that once gave him the most support in a single election year.

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