POSTSCRIPT / November 15, 2009 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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It’s time we shook off our showbiz mentality

GAME NA: Is this all — a Gibo-Edu tandem — that the administration can offer to a nation searching desperately for a political Moses to lead them out of the desert of corruption and inept governance?

By this time, we should have learned that managing a nation of some 88 million, almost half of whom are wallowing in want, is not the same as hosting a TV game show or projecting a caring image in a telenovela.

And the Kampi-Lakas-CMD coalition offers us Edu Manzano as its vice presidential candidate — potentially the president of the Republic in case he wins with Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro as president and the latter dies or is removed from office.

Imagine having an Edu Manzano as president.

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POPULARITY: Sorry if I sound like this, but for so long now this nation has been treated to a parade of showbiz personalities in key government posts whose main qualification is their sheer popularity.

We keep saying again and again — and we will keep saying it — that elections are not popularity contests.

The political parties are insulting us by foisting on the public second-rate but popular public figures and what we sometimes refer to as the lesser of two evils.

It has been said also that we get the leaders we deserve. Often times, however, the people have no choice based on the candidates offered them by the parties.

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GORDON OPTION: Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate Blue Ribbon committee, was earlier tapped by Macananang as running mate of Teodoro, but he turned it down.

Like his committee recommendation to file charges against all those whose sticky fingers touched the $329-million broadband network contract with China’s ZTE Corp., Gordon’s turning down the offer to run under Teodoro is right.

“I told them I’m not available. I don’t agree with the candidate. Why should I be the vice president?” he said, adding that he was more experienced than Malacanang’s presidential bet.

That is true. Gordon has a better track record — in actual performance in office and in the field — than Teodoro. So why should he play second fiddle to the defense secretary whose only selling point is his academic record?

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INDEPENDENCE: To those surprised with his issuing a committee report that President Arroyo better explain her role in the NBN-ZTE deal and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo be charged, Gordon said he has never been pro-administration.

“I’m an independent senator, not their ally,” he said. “I can be a friend of everybody. I’ve locked up people who are close to me, and I do it consistently.”

For instance, he had cited for contempt his friend Camilo Sabio, chair of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, for his “contemptuous” response to committee issuances. He had locked up other uncooperative witnesses.

“How many senators have done that?” Gordon asked. “We have to go beyond friendships, or alliances or relationships, or pedigree or money. I’ve been known to follow my own mind, my principles. I’ve always taken the hard way, which is always the best way.”

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SCARCITY: Choosing Manzano, a former vice mayor and head of an agency raiding shops selling pirated compact discs, indicates that Malacanang is already scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Party insiders confess that the administration coalition, despite its having the biggest collection of politicians in the country, may not even be able to complete a powerhouse 12-member Senate ticket.

Despite President Gloria Arroyo’s attempts to distance herself from Teodoro so as not to jeopardize his candidacy, it appears that his identification as her Anointed One has been pulling him down.

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VILLAR’S VEEP: Manzano’s selection leaves Sen. Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party as the only presidential aspirant of a major party still without a vice presidential partner.

The other vice presidential bets are Sen. Mar Roxas (partner of Sen. Noynoy Aquino) of the Liberal Party and Makati Mayor Jojo Binay (of former President Erap Estrada) of the Partido ng Masang Pilipino.

The dropping out of Sen. Chiz Escudero as presidential nominee of the Nationalist People’s Coalition has left Sen. Loren Legarda, who is suddenly not interested in the presidency, as the logical NPC vice presidential candidate.

But Legarda may just end up in the arms of another party. She is being mentioned, with several others, as a likely vice presidential partner of Villar.

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SHORT LIST: Pressed for a clue on his running mate, a smiling Villar asked that we wait na lang for the big announcement next week. (I suspect — after the excitement of the Manny Pacquiao fight and of the other parties’ announcements has died down.)

On Villar’s list of possible running mate are Sen. Pia Cayetano, Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos and even Chiz Escudero, if he is able to pedal back from his earlier attack position against Villar.

Binay, who can also claim to have risen from modest beginnings like Villar, may move to the NP — if Estrada decides to set free his teammates in anticipation of some legal and other problems arising from his running for the presidency.

Villar has at least eight names for his senatorial ticket, with a few slots kept open for last-minute accommodation that may arise with the shuffling of other parties’ tickets.

On his list are senators Miriam Santiago and Pia Cayetano, Reps. Satur Ocampo, Liza Hontiveros and Bongbong Marcos, NP spokesmen Adel Tamano and Gilbert Remulla, former NEDA director-general Ralph Recto (if his wife Vilma will not run for vice president) and Marine Col Ariel Querubin.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 15, 2009)

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