2022 Philippine Elections

[OPINION] Measuring campaign promises

Edilberto De Jesus
[OPINION] Measuring campaign promises
'Beware of candidates who campaign on promised, prospective plans. Promises are cheap, especially during the electoral season.'

Any candidate can invest in producing plans for great projects to implement – when they get elected.  Mayor Duterte campaigned on a Legacy Agenda of 15 goals, with Ending Corruption, Criminality, and the Drug Trade at the top of the list.  He admitted failure on these priority promises.  His 9th goal, Ending Insurgency, was as legitimate and lofty as the others.  Anchored on the Anti-Terror Law and on NTF-ELCAC,  this goal, like the others, was equally flawed in its strategy and execution; its pursuit is sharpening social divisions and causing more violence.  Even when objectives are sound, their achievement will depend on the leader’s competence, commitment, and integrity.  

Marcos Jr. supporters proclaim that he is “the best” presidential candidate available.  But they do not bother explaining why they consider him “the best.”  His wife, Liza Araneta, says he deserves to be president because he is “mabait, matalino, pogi (kind, intelligent, handsome), sexy.” While these traits should not disadvantage a future president, their relevance to the president’s job, compared to other possible traits, needs explanation.  Evidence, in particular, must be provided to show how kindness and intelligence have been manifested.

Political allies say they like his plans, though they seldom bother to explain them.  Any candidate can invest in the recruitment of academic experts and technical consultants to draw up plausible programs of government.  But beware of candidates who campaign on promised, prospective plans.  Promises are cheap, especially during the electoral season. Base your judgment, not on promised future plans, but on the record of past performance.  

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Make your evaluation not on the basis of the campaign propaganda and the testimony of the followers and their hired experts.  Review, instead, what the public record says about the candidate’s abilities and competence, as proven by results.  The evidence, for Marcos Jr., is slim.  He does not have much of a track record in the private sector.  Has he ever held a job where he earned a pay-check on the basis of what he can do on his own, without dependence on family resources and connections? Taxpayers have basically supported him with public funds throughout his working career.  What can he present as his accomplishment through the years he served as a public official, as vice-governor and governor of the province of Ilocos Norte and as a senator of the Republic?

He was largely an absentee provincial official; during his term as vice-governor, he was enrolled at Oxford, where he showed little evidence of academic competence. By the university’s official records, he did not complete the academic requirements necessary to entitle him to receive the Oxford degree, which he persists in claiming he had been granted, despite the university’s rejection of this claim.  Nor did he earn any comparable degree in the other prestigious institutions abroad where he paid tuition.  Possession of an Oxford BA or any other international academic credential is not required to run for the Philippine presidency.  But for a public persona to lie brazenly to claim an achievement he has not earned exposes a major crack in his credibility and raises grave doubts about integrity.  Can the people trust Marcos Jr.?

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Even President Duterte has been unable to embrace the candidacy of Marcos Jr., on whose ticket his daughter, Sara, is running as vice-president.  Although Duterte had expressed the wish that Marcos Jr., instead of Alan Cayetano, had been his running mate, he has criticized him for his work style and habits and has hinted at his cocaine problems.  Yet, he may still end up endorsing Marcos Jr. to promote Sara’s election and keep the Duterte’s family’s grip on political power. 

There are more serious integrity issues.  Marcos, Jr. has been charged and convicted for failing to pay his taxes.  In his published memoir, former National Security Adviser Jose Almonte, one of the key men behind the Reform the Armed Forces Movement that sought to overthrow Ferdinand Marcos Sr., identified Marcos, Jr. as the steward of the estimated $10-billion wealth the family had plundered from the Philippines.  He is party to an estate tax charge assessed by the BIR at P23 billion in July 1991, which became final and unappealable in August 1991. 

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The tax liability of Marcos Jr. and the family has ballooned to over P200 billion, money the government badly needs to help the people impoverished by the pandemic.  Sen. Imee Marcos complains that the tax charges have surfaced only because her brother is running for the presidency and is the leading candidate. But the Supreme Court had issued the judgment sustaining the  BIR ruling action in June 1997, a SC decision that became final and executory in March 1999.  Not unusual for those with financial resources and political influence to delay the execution of court orders.  The Marcoses have managed to resist payment of tax liabilities outstanding for over 20 years.  What are the chances, as Justice Antonio Carpio has asked, that the Marcos Family will ever pay if Marcos Jr. becomes president? 

The elections in May will determine how the country will fare in the future.  It took 30 years for the country to recover from the oppressive legacy of the government of Marcos Sr. Are we prepared to impose a similar burden on future generations of Filipinos?   To decide which candidate we can trust with our future, we must look at their record of performance in the past. Can you trust Marcos Jr.? – Rappler.com

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