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Jojo, Grace or Mar? Surprise, it's Bongbong! (Philippines Daily Inquirer)

by August 31, 2015 Government & Politics

WE OLD political warriors, inured as we are to the vagaries of politics, don’t take too seriously the so-called political analysts and number crunchers who predict the likely winners in the coming elections. They are just guessing, and their guesses cannot be any more accurate-or reflective of the situation on the ground-than yours, mine or ours.

In assessing where the wind blows in a political derby, the preferred protocol by us old in the political game is direct interaction-like random chat, interview, glad-handing braced by eye contact with the public or groups whose political sentiments or leaning we are trying to pin down or plumb. Exactly what I have been doing the last few weeks to try to get the people’s thoughts on 2016 politics which is starting to boil.

My reading of the political environment, as matters now stand? The people-most of them anyway-are in a quandary, confused about who to support for president in 2016 from among those planning to run, those sending out strong signals they might run, and those already running. What basically causes their dilemma?

Jojo Binay. The man, admirers proclaim, was a crackerjack mayor who all but transformed the once sleepy town of Makati into a pocket Singapore. Now a city, Makati has grown so rich during Jojo’s watch it has money spewing out of its sewers. It is the only local government unit that can boast of womb-to-tomb social services and benefits for its citizens, from the toddlers to the elderly. Jojo was elected vice president in 2010, streaking from the bottom of the heap to the top, leaving rival veep wannabes awestruck, uncomprehending what windstorm had hit them. For five years thereafter, Jojo kept the top spot in popularity ratings, his number consistently in the high 70s. And up to a year ago, friends and foes alike have all but conceded the presidency to the Makati political kingpin, Jejomar Binay.

Then disaster struck. A Senate investigation uncovered funny happenings in Makati during the decades-long Binay family rule of the city-happenings which brought, according to allegations, the Binays unbelievable wealth. All these allegations, of course, are just that: allegations yet to be proven in court.

Grace Poe. The junior senator is a shooting star, a political phenomenon everybody-well, almost everybody-is excited about at this, to use the favorite clichE of politicians, point in time. Grace has paper-thin credentials to justify her meteoric rise in the political firmament. But there she is, outshining old political war horses in popularity, propelled to the loftiest position in voters’ preference by startlingly capturing the No. 1 position in the 2013 senatorial elections and by reason of her being a child of cinema’s authentic and revered idol Fernando Poe Jr.

Grace is not without endearing qualities.

Articulate, bright and with steel-like personality, she radiates strong conviction and will. She displayed these qualities as chair of the Senate committee that conducted the investigation and hearings on the Mamasapano tragedy, where she boldly asserted that P-Noy shared accountability for the incident which she unhesitatingly called a massacre.

Granted Grace’s sterling qualities, among these a fresh face on the national stage, untainted by the sludge, smudge, slime and scum of politics, still it cannot be denied that it is too soon to shoehorn her into the presidency. She only has a nodding acquaintance with economics, foreign affairs, military matters and such spheres, if at all, that a president cavorts in.

Mar Roxas. Here’s a man only a few, if any, can be more honest and decent and trustworthy as a public official. He is every inch a gentleman, a public servant unblemished by a scintilla of corruption, sprung from buena familia with a history of selflessness in public service, bright, hardworking and well-educated. Is there anyone more supremely qualified for the presidency than him?

Roxas has one character flaw, he is too timid to make quick, bold decisions. He temporizes, he studies and restudies, examines and reexamines endlessly obviously doable and logical solutions to problems, such that by the time he acts, the problems have tripled in gravity if they are still salvageable at all.

There you are, three presidentiables who, though deserving of their aspirations, have imperfections that leave people wondering if it’s wise to support any one of them.

But what about Digoy Duterte? Yes, he is talked about by ordinary folks as one who could enforce discipline in our society. He could fix the chaotic Manila traffic, put the heebie-jeebies on criminal elements in streets and in Customs, etc. The dilemma bothering voters about Digoy is he openly admits he has two wives and several girlfriends on the side. Will this mean there’ll be two first ladies and a bevy of mistresses at the Palace if and when he becomes president?

Now Bongbong Marcos. He’s getting attractive day by day as a presidential prospect. The transformation of Bongbong from a carefree youth with no serious inclination into an articulate political thinker who can examine knowledgeably all angles of national issues has been phenomenal. Eloquent and articulate, the lad has got talent. Isn’t he being a Marcos drawback? Nope. Surprisingly, the name has reacquired its old magic among rural voters.

So, is Bongbong the dark horse in 2016? Abangan.