POSTSCRIPT / August 6, 2015 / Thursday


Opinion Columnist

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LP need not import VP partner for Mar

IT SEEMS that Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares has made up her mind about running for president. She may just be playing games with President Noynoy Aquino, with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in tow, till they run out of time courting her.

The only way Poe would run under the Liberal Party is for her to be its presidential candidate, dislodging Roxas who would have to slide, again, to being No. 2. However, that is not about to happen, not after the President’s having publicly anointed Roxas.

That formula may not even be acceptable to Poe herself since there is Sen. Chiz Escudero who, per his compact with the senadora, must be her vice president no matter what.

And to bodily import the Poe-Escudero tandem is unthinkable for the mighty LP ruling party. But then, Aquino & Co. may just be playing games, presumably looking for more cracks in Poe’s self-confident exterior.

One such crack has been found in her claim that she is a natural-born Filipino and that she would have lawfully resided in the Philippines as a Filipino for at least 10 years before the presidential elections on May 9, 2016, as required under the Constitution.

Since both citizenship and residence requirements under the Constitution apply to presidential and vice presidential candidates, it appears that Poe’s eligibility to run for vice president in 2016 may have been similarly put in serious question.

LP can tap own party stalwarts for VP

THE LIBERAL Party actually does not need to look far to get a worthy running mate for Roxas or to go through the embarrassing courtship of a reluctant outsider already committed to her own ambitions and VP partner.

The party loses face when it announces its intention to tap somebody – e.g., Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo – and ends up empty-handed. Both ladies have turned out to be unavailable.

Looking at the LP’s first line, there is for instance Senate President Franklin Drilon, who may just be playing coy but may have a secret desire to become Philippine president. Ask him quietly.

There is also Speaker Sonny Belmonte who, among all those being mentioned for the No. 2 post, has the most impressive record – even compared, with due respect, to Poe — when it comes to executive experience.

The party should not commit the same mistake of pushing a candidate on the mere basis of popularity or banking on an on-the-job-training phase. The presidency and the vice presidency should be held by those already with tested executive and managerial competence.

If a Roxas-Belmonte tandem wins in 2016, the vice president can be more than a spare tire. Roxas can tap Belmonte’s record as a consensus builder.

The 117 Liberal congressmen in the House do not enjoy a majority in the chamber of 280 members, but the Speaker has worked out a rainbow coalition that assures convivial inter-party cooperation leading to trouble-free legislation.

As a former journalist used to challenging all angles of a story, Belmonte can play a kind of devil’s advocate in a Roxas Cabinet – an internal balancing voice sadly lacking in Malacañang today.

As Quezon City mayor, Belmonte wiped out the over P2-billion debts and overdue loans of City Hall in less than two years after he took office in 2001. He made QC the richest local government in two years — richer than Makati then under Mayor Jojo Binay. In his second term, QC enjoyed a budget surplus.

He installed efficiency systems and computerized the sensitive offices such as those having to do with public funds. The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry adjudged QC under Belmonte the most business-friendly city three years in a row. On the civic side, he also served as president of Jaycee International and the Philippine Jaycees.

Under President Cory Aquino, the then government-controlled Philippine Airlines and the Manila Hotel, both managed by Belmonte as president, recorded unprecedented profits. The Government Service Insurance System where he was general manager also excelled in service and efficiency during his stewardship.

Employees of PAL remember Belmonte as the one who turned around the airline and successfully privatized it — and rewarded them with three bonuses in a year, a record until this time.

IBON: Wealth of nation’s richest has tripled

THE FEW rich Filipinos became richer while wages and incomes remained low for millions of workers in the last five years of the Aquino administration, according to the research group IBON.

In the middle of Aquino’s term, the combined net worth of the 25 richest Filipinos was equivalent to the combined income of more than 70 million poorest Filipinos.

In a report, IBON said: “What government claims to have been inclusive growth benefited only a few families and corporations. The wealth of the 10 richest Filipinos has more than tripled at 250 percent from P650 billion in 2010 to P2.2 trillion in 2015.

“Twelve Filipino billionaires have joined the world’s billionaires listed in Forbes magazine, among them Henry Sy who rose from 97th a year ago to 73rd wealthiest in the world in 2015.

“The net income of some 260 firms listed in the Philippine Stock Exchange rose 33 percent from P438 billion in 2010 to P583 billion in 2014.

“But the wages and incomes of millions of workers nationwide have remained low. The real value of the average daily basic wage increased by less than P9 between 2010 and 2014. In nominal terms, the average daily basic pay is only P367.35 for all industries.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 6, 2015)

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