Imperfect choices in a Philippine leader

Rene Pastor

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

Imperfect choices in a Philippine leader
Can the country survive May 9? Of course it will or at the very least muddle through.

Mar, Grace, Duterte, Jojo and Miriam.

Filipinos will be choosing their next leader from this quintet. None are exciting. All of them are flawed. (READ: The Imagined President)

You would think out of 100 million Filipinos, there would be one, maybe two, who would come out of the pack, grab the flag and inspire tens of millions from Appari to Jolo.

The plain, honest truth is that none of the above is worth dying for.

Mar, for all his earnest touting of his competence, is about as thrilling as wood. 

Grace does not inspire confidence in her judgment given her choice of vice president. Miriam doubled down on such a horrid choice for veep by picking Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Jojo? If you do not like corruption and consider it the bane of existence in the country, scratch him off the list.

And Duterte? Let’s see. Hidden wealth? Check. Human rights violations? Check. And that is when he is only mayor.

Stupid, off-the-cuff remarks on rape? Got that in spades. Cussing at the Pope? That too.

A guy who is the son of a governor and a lawyer is not poor or masa. He only seems that way. Look at his bank account. 

Those who love Mar claim he is the cleanest, most experienced of the lot. 

That is what happens when you set the bar two inches off the floor. He should be able to hurdle it without even looking.

The argument for voting Mar is a negative. All of the others in the lineup are just unacceptable.

Grace Poe? I just do not think that ‘I will continue what my father did’ is an argument to become President.

If that is the logic, then she should be in showbiz.

I listened to her program of government. Long on ideas like reviving agriculture, and awfully short on specifics.

At the least, she matches Mar in being earnest.  

Come to think of it, I have not seen anything from the Fab Five on what specifically they will do for the country.

Economy? Nada. 

Relations with China? Zilch.

Ties with the U.S.? Duh.

On the economy, no big changes are expected from the quintet of candidates, except maybe launch an infrastructure program to clear out bottlenecks in the economy.

That means spending billions of pesos and creating jobs. Always a good thing politically and an excellent way to spread patronage among your supporters.

Boycott not an option

ALL FLAWED? Candidates in their respective political ads.

Like most national elections in the country, it’s been mostly a circus with very little discussion on what direction the country should take in the future.

I know the argument. People do not want to talk about that. 

That sounds very much like “the voters don’t really think a lot” so we go down to their level of intelligence.

Boycott is not an option please. If you do that, then you do not have the right to bitch and moan for the next six years about how bad the government is.

A lot of people will have to hold their noses in this election and choose who they think is good for the country.

Sounds very much like the phrase “swallow the toad.”

Can the country survive May 9?

Of course it will or at the very least muddle through.

What gives me hope are a couple of things.

For the first time in years or even decades, there is an inflamed intolerance of corruption. That can only grow.

Filipinos are more conscious about corruption and no longer sweep it aside as part of the “business as usual” nature of politics in the country.

Next, women and a lot of men are up in arms at Duterte’s rape talk. That alone means he shouldn’t be voted as dogcatcher in the Spratlys.

More than anything else, that is why Duterte is bad for the country. Enough of this BS macho talk. We are better than that and should get away from it.

And then there is Leni Robredo. She gives the country hope. She knows she has nothing to offer but good intentions and sound policy.

She has not given up on the country. 

There is a striking sense of decency in her positions. Just look at her stand on being against burying dictator Ferdinand Marcos in Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Not like Jojo who wants him buried there or Miriam, who says there should be a referendum. Miriam’s decision blows because she is hiding behind a vote when deciding is fairly basic. Stop looking behind your shoulder at Bongbong Jr.

Robredo will be there and I hope she wins and does not change. She should be the next President in 2022. 

I hope more people like her come out and serve in public life without getting contaminated by the radioactive quagmire that is politics in the country.

More important are ordinary Pinoys. They persevere and they sacrifice inside and outside the country.

They kept the economy afloat when the country was near falling apart.

The Fab Five in the presidential derby is plain depressing. I wish the choices are better.  One day, they will be. –


Rene Pastor is a journalist in the New York metropolitan area who writes about agriculture, politics and regional security. He was, for many years, a senior commodities journalist for Reuters. He founded the Southeast Asia Commodity Digest, which is an affiliate of Informa Economics research and consulting. He is known for his extensive knowledge of the El Niño phenomenon and his views have been quoted in news reports. He is currently an Online Editor of the international edition of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong.

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI