#AnimatED: Spectacle of Aquino indecision
President Aquino’s agonizingly slow public courtship of Senator Grace Poe, so far the most popular candidate for president and vice president in next year’s elections, dramatizes 2 serious flaws in the country’s political culture: weak and fractious political parties that make succession planning futile, and the dominance of personalities rather than platforms.
In countries with mature democracies, where political parties are strong, potential presidents and prime ministers are known long before the elections. They slug it out in party politics, are chosen to be leaders and honed through years in public service.
In contrast, succession in the Philippines is determined by twists of fate. Corazon Aquino was propelled to Malacañang by the murder of her husband. Similarly, her death thrust her son, Noynoy, to the presidency. Movies led Joseph Estrada, a wildly popular actor, to Malacañang.
Now, we are at a similar juncture in our national lives.
The ruling Liberal Party has left it to Aquino to choose a successor: Mar Roxas or Grace Poe. Roxas is a longtime LP member and part of the Aquino Cabinet but his numbers at the polls are uninspiring. Poe, for her part, is a new face, with 3 years in the Senate, but with a rising popularity linked to her famous movie-actor father.
And what do we see? Four open-ended meetings between Aquino and Poe, sparse public statements that need decoding, whispers from unnamed sources on both sides (Poe and Roxas) that find space online and in print, open lobbying for Poe from the likes of Liberal Party (LP) member and House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte, and calls for an LP national convention to better choose its presidential candidate. (READ: The Scrum: The weight of a presidential endorsement)
The LP is being pulled into 2 directions while the opposition candidate, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, is gleefully busy in the hustings. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte hovers, attracting adherents despite his tentative bid. Poe and her ally, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, are sending signals of running together as independents or “guest candidates” of unidentified political parties.
All this to-and-fro, like a verbal hall of mirrors, in the midst of high stakes. This can no longer go on.
Our economy has hurtled past Asean neighbors. The fight against corruption and poverty has resulted in some successes.
About 4.4 million poor families are now covered by the conditional cash transfer program, improving access to education, health care and jobs. Leakages have been at a minimum.
We need to remind ourselves that 3 senators have been charged with plunder, a first in contemporary history. They have been in jail for a year. A chief justice was impeached for lying in his assets statement. And a sitting vice president is facing a plunder case, backed by stunning data from the Anti-Money Laundering Council.
International perception of the Philippines has improved. We have climbed up notches in various global rankings.
The National Competitiveness Council points out that, from 2011 to 2014, the Philippines has been the most improved country in four important rankings : “up 53 spots in the Ease of Doing Business Report; up 49 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index; up 39 in the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index; and up 33 in the WEF Global Competitiveness Index.”
These have happened in a rambunctious democracy, under the glare of the noisy media. Nearby, Thailand has slid back with generals ruling the country. Malaysia is rocked by a huge corruption scandal. Myanmar and Cambodia are on a slow march to democracy.
Many of these gains are at risk as we trek towards next year’s polls. President Aquino cannot continue to waver: he has to end this spectacle of indecision. – Rappler.com
In these changing times, courage and clarity become even more important.
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