POSTSCRIPT / January 16, 2022 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Disqualification is part of poll process

Vice President Leni Robredo said Thursday that she preferred to beat ex-senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the May 9 presidential elections than see him eliminated from the race via disqualification by the Commission on Elections.

“If you were to ask me, I would rather beat him (Marcos Jr.) in the elections to finally put an end to all this,” Robredo said in Filipino over CNN Philippines’ TV show “News Night”.

But is not the Comelec’s weeding out of candidates who are not qualified part of the election process? If an aspirant is eliminated by due process before the ballots are cast, he has lost in his election bid.

Her “put an end to all this” may refer to the unsubstantiated claim that Robredo cheated Marcos Jr. in the 2016 vice presidential race. (What! Robredo cheating a Marcos?) After his nearly five years of fruitless fishing, the Supreme Court threw out his protest on Feb. 16, 2021.

Or perhaps insider information has been telegraphed to Robredo that the poll body, six of whose seven commissioners happen to be Duterte appointees, was not inclined to disqualify the client of legendary solicitor general Estelito Mendoza of the elder Marcos.

The son and namesake of the deposed dictator still faces four disqualification petitions, three of which argue that he is barred for life from holding public office by his 1995 conviction of tax evasion.

A lawyer for Marcos Jr. informed the Comelec in a preliminary meeting on the disqualification cases that he had settled his taxes and fines with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (but not with the court). Will paying the taxes erase his conviction and disqualification?

There was another funny petition for the Comelec to declare Marcos Jr. a nuisance candidate. The complaint was junked before anybody dies laughing. It now even looks like it would be the disqualification petitions that would be deemed a nuisance (to him)!

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, who incidentally is retiring next month, said that a decision on the disqualification cases filed by Martial Law victims and the Akbayan Party might be handed down tomorrow. Either way they go, an appeal to the Supreme Court is expected.

If Marcos Jr. escapes disqualification – which is the fearful forecast of most people grown cynical of the system – Robredo could say that all along she had wanted the question settled in a showdown before the electorate, not at the Comelec.

 Top FVR execs back Robredo

More than 20 Cabinet secretaries and senior officials under then President Ramos, meanwhile, signed a statement Wednesday supporting Robredo and expressing concern over the “proliferation of misinformation, dubious promises and outright falsehoods”.

The former Ramos officials said Robredo is the aspirant who “can credibly lead us closer” to the “unified, humane, just, progressive, economically vibrant, sustainable and equitable society that is the dream of every Filipino.”

They chorused: “The country sorely needs a leader who will inspire unity, solidarity and teamwork in government and among all Filipinos; empower our people, especially the disadvantaged and marginalized; and bring out the best in government officials and public servants by being the foremost example of integrity, dedication, professionalism, level-headedness, statesmanship, pursuit of excellence, hard work, and true caring and sharing for our fellow Filipinos.”

Robredo said she was “humbled” by their support, adding: “I look up to the leadership that FVR espoused, which I believe was affirmed by the brilliant people who served alongside him—matitino at mahuhusay!”

One signatory, former National Economic Development Administration chief Cielito Habito, said they had a “pleasant” Zoom meeting with Robredo on Monday. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, who was justice secretary under Ramos, also signed the statement, as well as former Presidential Assistant Benjamin de Leon.

Other former cabinet secretaries who signed: Angel Alcala and Victor Ramos (environment and natural resources), Jaime Galvez Tan and Carmencita Reodica (health), Nieves Confesor and Jose Brillantes (labor), Narzalina Lim and Vicente Carlos (tourism), Roberto Romulo (foreign affairs), Ramon del Rosario Jr. (finance), Ernesto Garilao (agrarian reform), Lina Laigo (social welfare); Delfin Lazaro (energy), and Edmundo Mir (public works and highways).

Robredo also gained the support of former chairpersons Ester Garcia (Commission on Higher Education) and Patricia Licuanan (then National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women, now Philippine Commission on Women), former deputy director-general Dante Canlas (NEDA), former administrator Tomas Africa (then National Statistic Office, now the Philippine Statistics Authority, former undersecretaries Ben Malayang III (DENR) and Milwida Guevara (finance).

 Christian execs stress honesty

A group of Catholic businessmen and professionals pitched yesterday in a virtual media conference for honesty and encouraged everyone to make honesty an integral part of one’s value system and way of life.

The “Tapatan ng Tapat” campaign of the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals advances the group’s “Be Honest” advocacy, especially for the May 9 national elections.

“The challenge is really to place the virtue of honesty at the forefront of a person’s moral compass, which becomes his or her basis for choices and actions,” said PV Beley, BCBP president.

Beley said they are strongly pushing the “Be Honest” advocacy via the “Tapatan ng Tapat” campaign to guide BCBP members numbering some 18,000  as well as the public on the moral basis for choosing the candidates to vote for, “but we are not endorsing anyone in particular.”

“It’s a personal decision for each of us and through this campaign we’re encouraging everyone to contemplate and listen to our inner voice so we’ll be able to choose and vote for candidates who reflect and practice Christian values this coming elections,” he said.

The BCBP has lined up initiatives supporting clean and honest elections, together with its partners in mission in Halalang Marangal 2022, a group of more than 20 faith-based organizations.

The BCBP is a Catholic charismatic community of more than 18,000 members that include leaders in the business, private and public sectors across the country and overseas, committed to live out their Christian values and be change agents in society.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of January 16, 2022)

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