10 reasons why Grace Poe is my president
I write this with 10 days to go before Election Day. These are the 10 reasons why Grace Poe is my president and why you should choose her too.
1. Grace Poe has a clear vision and solid platform of government that builds and improves on “Daang Matuwid (Straight Path)."
Senator Poe has a vision for the country: one where no one is left behind. To achieve that, government must be compassionate. “Sa gobyernong may puso, walang maiiwan (No one will be left behind under a compassionate government)” captures the two pillars of the senator’s vision. A Poe presidency will focus on poverty alleviation coupled with inclusive, sustainable, and resilient growth. The objective is to attain global competitiveness driven by a culture of excellence achieved through open, accountable, and competent governance, free of corruption, which operates under the rule of law and upholds human rights.
On her first day, she has promised to promulgate an executive order institutionalizing freedom of information in the executive branch, among others. She will also order the preparation of a comprehensive feeding program for public schools as one of her first acts. Agriculture, public health and easing the transportation crisis will be priorities in the first 6 months.
A Poe government will build on the good governance gains of President Aquino’s Daang Matuwid administration but it will depart radically from the latter in being solutions-oriented, inclusive, and compassionate. A Poe administration will also be different from the Aquino government in its emphasis on human rights and social justice. She will be more committed to labor rights and not just ending contractual labor. Her support for OFWs is also stronger. We will see a lot more empathy in a Poe administration, especially for children and families.
Personally, I am attracted most to the environmental, climate change, energy and transportation programs of Senator Poe. She has the most progressive positions on issues like the implementation of the Paris Agreement, capping coal power, promoting renewable energy, judicious management of the country’s minerals, agriculture, and fisheries, and marine and aquatic resources. She understands that traffic is not about cars but about mobility and is willing to implement and scale up innovative programs for pedestrians, cyclists, and commuters.
I am also sure that a President Poe will appoint the most qualified justices to the Supreme Court. Because of her direct experience of the legal system, Poe knows the importance of competent, independent and ethical justices and judges. I am so excited about her plans to completely support the Chief Justice’s judicial reform programs.
It’s not a perfect platform. It has some gaps, for sure. But it is the best that is being offered.
2. Grace Poe is organized disciplined, diligent, and hard working.
In the few months I have worked with and advised her on a range of issues, I have personally seen Grace Poe’s work ethic. The Senator is tireless. She is always prepared for our meetings. She takes time to read voluminous briefing papers prepared for her. She reaches out to experts whenever necessary.
Poe’s personal discipline is exemplary. She usually comes to meetings on time and when she is delayed, she respects us enough to let us know. The discipline extends to her staff. She manages them strictly while always treating them respectfully. Clearly, Senator Poe is a performance and outcomes oriented leader.
As President, she will set time-bound strategic goals and will hold herself and her team accountable to achieving them. Being a good manager and an excellent organization person, she will not tolerate division in her team and will make sure everyone act as one. There will be no factionalism in a Poe administration because she will not allow it.
3. Grace Poe is a woman, mother, wife, and daughter.
It is clear that many in our society continue to look down on women as the weaker sex, to be joked about, and to be ignored. Double standards that marginalize women and favor men prevail in all areas of our society – in politics, in economics, in our culture. It would be so good to have a woman lead the effort to change that.
In a Poe presidency, many women will be appointed to the cabinet and to all government positions and the judiciary. My hope is that more than half of the cabinet will be women and that by the time her term is over, more than half of the Supreme Court will be women. That would be so great.
That Grace Poe is a wife, mother and a daughter is one of the things that attracts me very much. She is fully engaged with her family, attending recollections and graduations even at the height of the campaign. In fact, regardless of where she is in a given day, Poe almost always flies home to be with her children and husband. She looks up to her husband and honors her mother. A Poe presidency will be good for families because she understands what we are all about.
4. Grace Poe is a foundling and will always prioritize children and the human rights of all.
Her life story is one of the most compelling reasons why people are drawn to her. My friend, children’s rights advocate Eric Mallonga describes why her presidency would be so good for children:
This is a selfless, generous, kind, caring woman, who equally cares about children other than her own. Having a president who would introduce free lunches, even other meals, at schools and day care centers for children is the best thing that could happen to this society. Parents would be able to work and not worry about bringing home enough money for the food of their children because those children would not be hungry. The Grace Poe administration would have already guaranteed their daily nourishment. Filipino children would be well nourished and thus, properly educated because they would not be starving as they learn their daily lessons.
Having a president, who would prioritize that every child would have a suitable family environment, whether their own biological family or an alternative foster, guardian or adoptive family to properly nurture their children, will be one excellent president for this nation. Having a president who would care for the children and provide proper schools for them, regardless of whether they live in the hinterlands or metropolis, whether they are Muslims, Igorots, Lumads, or Christians, regardless of their ethnicity or religion, is one president who can unify our people because of the commonality of causes in raising their families and seeking the best for their children.
Having a president who aspires to build not just schools but proper habitats and shelters for every family so that they could properly attend to their children’s needs is the best thing in bridging the great continental divide between the oppressive wealthy and the disenfranchised people and finally resolving the polarization that continues to threaten the stability of our nation.
I look forward to a president whose number one priority is children because she herself experienced very directly the precariousness of being alone as a child. Because she has a direct experience also of the importance of human rights, a President Poe will be a strong advocate of the human rights of all, including the mothers of disappeared political activists or OFWs who are imprisoned or sentenced to death in foreign lands.
5. Grace Poe ran an ethical and effective campaign; she will also be an effective and ethical president.
When the campaign started, I wrote an article for the Ateneo de Manila alumni magazine Fabilioh and proposed that in addition to the candidates’ record of service, it is important to look at how they are handling themselves in the campaign. I observed: “Presidential campaigns are grueling and challenging, beset by crisis. The behavior of the candidates – their fortitude, determination, discipline, ability to communicate, etc – is a good way of assessing their effectiveness as leaders.”
I would add that presidential campaigns also reveal the moral fiber of the candidates. On this, I am sure, Grace Poe has run an ethical campaign. She has refused to do personal attacks and go dirty. There have been moments, of course, when she has flared up and lost her temper, when the attacks against her and her family become abusive, but these have been far and few in between. Most of the time, she has been calm and serene and has had the same effect on those who work with her.
I have never seen Senator Poe panic even in the face of crises and what seem to be overwhelming challenges. I saw only a grounded and recollected Poe when it seemed she would lose her disqualification cases. That’s what I see in her now, a time when she is trying to catch up in the polls.
6. Grace Poe will be a listening president. She brings a fresh perspective and new ideas to the presidency.
In all my dealings with Senator Poe, I have seen how she is a good listener. She has internalized core values of good governance – personal integrity, inclusiveness in designing policies and programs, transparency and public participation in decision-making, the need for social accountability, and a preference for the poor and marginalized. But outside these values, Poe is open to new ideas and inclusive social innovation. A big pleasure in helping draft her platform and preparing her for debates is that nothing is off the table. Every idea can be considered and weighed. I like that in a president.
I am definitely not worried that Grace Poe has the least number of years in government experience among the candidates. Because she knows how to listen and because she is an adherent to complete staff work and the highest standards of excellence, the decisions she will make will be well considered.
Poe will be a listening President, not only on policy and governance matters, but also on an interpersonal basis. She has what we call in Jesuit parlance cura personalis. The country saw this in action in the last presidential debate when she was the only one who addressed and later approached the child Jhesa and her mother, telling them she understood her situation being a mother herself.
Grace Poe will be a president who will be equally comfortable listening to a business magnate, policy expert, farmer, worker, and a young child and her mother.
7. Grace Poe is capable of making tough decisions.
I understand that there are concerns that a President Poe would be unduly influenced by her funders. I am aware that could happen, and I respect those who have privately and publicly warned me about this, but I do not believe that will be the case.
Personally, I have seen how she deals with conflicting opinions and advice, that she weighs everything, asks the right questions, and proceeds to make a decision based on her core values. She also values complete staff work and reaching out to a range of views before making decisions. Moreover, all major decisions will be characterized by transparency and inclusiveness. Given that, I am confident that there are enough safeguards to ensure that governance decisions will be made on the merits and not because of access.
Her stint in the Senate shows this tenacity and firmness. Her friendships with the Estradas and Binays did not stop her from supporting the PDAF investigations. Her handling of the Mamasapano probe was masterful, balancing different interests, making the President accountable but doing it with respect for the office. She was able to get all senators to sign the committee report. She was able to steer the Senate to approve the FOI Act speedily and without dissent.
8. Grace Poe will be a servant leader president who will inspire all of us to serve our county.
Watching her speeches in her campaign sorties is always a joy. One, of course, must have an open mind and generous heart to appreciate that and not rely on biases and prejudgments. Her rhetoric is good, soaring even, and she means it. She really believes that we are a good people, that there is hope for this country, and the future belongs to us. Government is only there to help us be a happy country.
There are many of us who are helping in the Poe campaign. Some are very prominent and senior in business, governance, and politics. But a big majority are young people, fresh out of college or still in school. She has inspired all of us to be with her in this campaign. If she wins, Poe will bring all of us and more into the government. I am confident that she will have the best cabinet ever, retaining the best in the Aquino government but tapping also new talents.
Personally, I prefer to retire from active work in governance and politics to just focus on teaching and writing. But without doubt, if Senator Poe asks me to join a Poe administration, I will say yes.
9. Grace Poe will be a unifying president.
Senator Poe has been attacked from all fronts. Her very identity as a Filipino, as a child, as a daughter, wife, and mother, has been attacked. Her family has not been spared; her husband and children has been viciously made a butt of jokes and mean, unfounded charges. But that has not destroyed her and her family. And not only that, she has not taken them personally. Instead, she has been extra generous to her critics, dismissing their attacks as essentially political. I have never heard her say disparaging things about them.
A Poe administration will not be vindictive. It will uphold the rule of law in all cases but in a compassionate manner. Whether it is the release of GMA, the PDAF cases that involves political allies, or the Marcos burial, hard and tough decisions will be made. They will be the right decisions, legally and ethically, but they will be done with generosity and charity.
I want that in a president – someone who can unify us, not make us a cacophony of dissonant voices, always fighting for both petty and serious reasons. I would like a president that inspires us to be better than we are now, to rise above our quarrels and share a common vision of a prosperous, peaceful and just Philippines.
10. With Grace Poe as our president, we will have a better, kinder, united, and happier Philippines.
We can choose the country we want on May 9, 2016.
I choose a country that is better – less poverty, reduced crime, more social justice, where human rights are fully respected. I choose a country that is kinder – to children and women especially, to people with disabilities, to the less unfortunate. I choose a country where we are united and where no one feels inferior and disadvantaged. I choose a country that is happier – not afraid – and full of hope.
A better, kinder, united, and happier Philippines. Grace Poe can bring us there. – Rappler.com
Dean Antonio G.M. La Viña is former dean of the Ateneo School of Government. He is an adviser to presidential candidate Grace Poe.