POSTSCRIPT / May 1, 2016 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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It all boils down to one’s character

I STILL do not have a choice for president, so one week before Election Day this voter can be counted with the NOTA (none of the above) crowd.

Come May 9, my choice will be based on the candidates’ Platform and Person.

But since the platforms of the candidates are mere collection of motherhood statements put together based on what they think people want to hear, I am putting more weight on the candidates’ Person — mainly his character and competence.

A hint of the candidate’s competence is his/her track record. Even for Sen. Grace Poe, whose executive experience is scanty, the candidates have creditable track record. In my opinion.

The candidates’ statements, TV blurbs and stand on issues often change with the shifting tide of the campaign. They are wont to say mostly what clicks at the moment with the particular audience.

If the promises of all the presidential candidates could be distilled into one covenant and delivered as pledged, Filipinos would have a near-paradise on earth in the next six years — ample food on the family table; subsidized hospitalization and medicine, free education, jobs galore, freedom from crime and corruption, livable dwellings for the poor, efficient mass transport, higher wages, lower taxes, et cetera.

To me, character is the differentiating element among the candidates. It is said that character is “the stable and distinctive qualities built into an individual’s life that determine his or her response regardless of circumstances.”

Jojo Binay is 73 years old; Rody Duterte, 71; Grace Poe, 47; Mar Roxas, 59; and Miriam Santiago, 70. With the candidates’ personality having been more or less molded and ingrained with time, “what you see is what you get.”

Character is who we are even when no one is watching. It even spills out of one’s mouth in unguarded moments. Chronic cursing and one’s talking lightly of serious and sensitive situations, as in the case of Duterte, give an insight into the moral core of the person.

All other qualities presumed to be the same, character will determine my choice of who should stand before the world to represent us, and among his people as our President for the next six years and cast his shadow on the decade beyond.

As a voter, it is important to me – and, I think, to the nation — if a candidate offering himself to be our President is not magnanakaw, kurakot, sinungaling, bastos, o mamamatay tao.

Such problems that could arise from the antics of a president elected to office by mistake can be traced to a flaw in the candidate’s character.

Trillanes-Duterte showdown tomorrow

IF THE POLITICAL shadow boxing becomes real as threatened, we might see tomorrow what kind of person Duterte — who has captured the imagination of the nation’s generally discontented majority — is.

The Davao mayor has been accused by Sen. Antonio Trillanes of having hidden from his 2014 Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth a P211-million account with the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

Such non-disclosure, if proved, is a violation of law that could mean dismissal from the government and disqualification from ever holding public office. It would also explode the myth of Duterte’s being a reformer.

It is interesting that Duterte first denied having such a BPI account, then when cornered admitted having one but that it was only in the thousands.

Duterte kept changing his story to sidestep the senator’s jabs. His accuser then piled up information that the supposed crimebuster from Mindanao has accounts in three banks with accumulated transactions amounting to P2.4 billion.

Trillanes later added in a TV interview that aside from bank accounts and transactions involving up to P2.4 billion, Duterte allegedly has 41 real property in his name. It could not be immediately ascertained if the title-owner is just his namesake.

A similar confusion happened during the impeachment trial of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona who was confronted with a list of property that turned out not to be his. The smear added to his torment as President Noynoy Aquino marshalled his allies in the Congress to oust Corona in disgrace.

It is anybody’s guess if Trillanes’ allegations against Duterte would erode his wide following.

Looking for a President, not vigilante boss

THIS VOTER goes back his line that character is central to the qualifications of any Filipino aspiring to be president.

We cannot overemphasize the fact that we are looking for a president, not an ordinary functionary, or a vigilante boss. We are looking for somebody who will represent us, one whose good character qualifies him as a model Filipino.

A great number of citizens are not happy with the state of affairs brought about by decades of maladministration and a failure to properly educate the Filipino. Now comes Duterte who shows that he has the b*lls to change the status quo.

He comes at the right time with the right pipe dream. Like the Pied Piper, he is leading hordes of his countrymen – to where we still do not know.

We do not know, because Duterte has not detailed a blueprint action plan. For instance, he promised to end the drugs problem, criminality and corruption in six months – a plan that raises question over due process as guaranteed by the Constitution.

A cleanup is desirable, especially to us who have suffered enough, but we should be at least told how Duterte intends to do it. There are hints that he would junk the Constitution if it gets in the way. Will he?

Then Duterte jumped into the maelstrom of the maritime dispute with China with several other nations possibly being drawn into the crisis that could become a flashpoint for a larger armed conflict.

This and his braggadocio of jet skiing to a contested isle to plant the Philippine flag with a dare to China to try and stop him is dramatic, but is this sane? Is this a foreboding of Duterte’s approach to international conflicts?

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 1, 2016)

A good article, especially with regard to President elect Duterte. I have great doubt the he is only a pied piper, pledging to do a lot of difficult things at A very limited time frame. Where is the due process and where is the constitution, and the breaks and balance. No President of a Democratic country can take the laws into his hands because we do have the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the free media too. As an attorney and former procutioner Mr Duterte should know that The President does not have unlimited powers, unless when he declared Marshal Law as Ferdinand Marcos did with another EDSA or yellow revolution to end his regime and even his life. Duterte is too thick- skinned.

Willie Lee

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