POSTSCRIPT / January 26, 2010 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Out of the darkness comes Flash Gordon

BROWNOUT: At 6:15 p.m. yesterday, a brownout hit the neighborhood, wiping out the column I was writing on my desktop computer. Problem was that I had not been saving my text as I normally did. And even if power returned in 30 minutes that would be too late.

Ironically, I was writing precisely of the scattered brownouts in the franchise area of the Manila Electric Co. resulting from a problem with the Sual power plant in Pangasinan sapping some 300 megawatts in the supply.

I had no more time to wait for the power and reconstruct my lost text. Using my laptop, I reprinted below part of the “Manileno” column of Butch Dalisay in the January issue of Filipinas magazine.

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INSIGHTS: Without permission, I am borrowing excerpts of Butch’s article titled “My Endorsement,” because I share many of his insights there:

“The official candidacies are in, so now we know that 99 Filipinos—at least nine of them serious contenders—are dreaming of becoming their country’s next president. The serious ones—in their intentions if not in their machinery—include Sen. Noynoy Aquino, former Defense chief Gibo Teodoro, Sen. Manny Villar, former President Erap Estrada, Sen. Dick Gordon, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, environmentalist Nicky Perlas, Bro. Eddie Villanueva and young reformer JC de los Reyes.

“I’ve never done this before, but I’m going out on a limb to make an endorsement. And I’m going to do that because the stakes are just too high, the situation too dire, for someone in my position—who might yet persuade the uninformed or the uncertain—to sit idly by as the most important presidential election of the post-Marcos era takes place.

“Having gone through martial law, two EDSAs, and the interminably long night of GMA’s hold on power (something she might yet extend with her run for Congress, and presumably the Speakership and Prime Ministership, if the chips fall her way again), I’m convinced that we Pinoys have punished ourselves enough with bad and corrupt leadership. If we elect another lemon to the Palace again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

“My vote will go to that person who I think has the experience, the integrity, the intelligence, the vision, the compassion and the discipline to best serve as our next president. After reviewing the options, I conclude that that person can only be Sen. Richard ‘Dick’ Gordon. He’s running along with former Marikina mayor and Metro Manila chief Bayani ‘BF’ Fernando — whose teaming up with Gordon was something of a masterstroke, focusing attention on the reputations of both men as proven, no-nonsense performers (or, the way Gordon puts it “transformers” — people who change society).

“First of all, full disclosure: I’ve just finished writing the biography of Senator Gordon, a commissioned project that took three years to finish. Within that time, I got to know the man and his story better than most people, beyond the official press releases and the front page stories. I’ve kept a formal distance — I still call him ‘Mr. Senator,’ never ‘Dick’ to his face — and I’m not a part of, nor have I been asked to join, his campaign organization.

“My heart tells me to vote for Noynoy and Mar, which will most strongly express my outrage over the way GMA has gutted our most cherished values and institutions. But my head tells me to vote for Dick and BF, who will need no on-the-job training in good governance, and whose track records as strong-willed, visionary executives are unmatched.

“I frankly don’t know Noynoy well enough — and neither, I suspect, do most Filipinos, beyond what they’ve seen of him on TV after President Aquino’s death. I have no reason to doubt that he’ll make an honest, upright President — maybe even a capable one. I’ve worked for Mar, and have nothing but appreciation for the seriousness and high purpose with which he takes his job as a senator. But much as I admire the late President Cory Aquino and the legacy she left behind — a legacy the Liberals will seek to sustain — I believe the Presidency can’t and shouldn’t be inherited, but earned.

“One just has to look at what Gordon has done in Subic and Olongapo, and what Fernando did to Marikina, to see how they have delivered on their word. Both places provide working demonstrations of what inspired leadership and political will can achieve.

“True, both men have big egos, and can come across to Filipinos accustomed to being wooed and massaged as being brusque or even abrasive when they need to get things done. But that’s nothing compared to the smiling impunity with which GMA and her crew weakened, rather than strengthened, our people’s faith in government.

“They’ve faced their share of lawsuits, but, to the best of my knowledge, no charge of corruption against either man has ever stuck or prospered. Gordon lives with his wife Kate in a comfortable condominium in Fort Bonifacio — in the same building where artists, expats, and successful professionals live — and stays in the same old, modest house in crowded downtown Olongapo when he’s there.

“In a country plagued by disasters of every kind, Dick’s 40 years of hands-on experience with the Red Cross should be invaluable. At a time when Philippine-American relations need to be managed with both firmness and finesse, Gordon trumps all his fellow aspirants in experience in dealing with the Americans, knowing when to stand up to them and when to seek their cooperation.

“xxx Can Dick Gordon win? The surveys don’t look too good at the moment, but it’s up to us to decide whether to let the surveys — or we ourselves — choose our best next President.”

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 26, 2010)

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