June 11 2010
Mar is not our Vice-President. This breaks my heart not for anything but because he is a friend of the Filipino and the Filipino did not know it.
The nation did not see the humility, honor and character when Mar stepped aside in favor of Noynoy, giving up years of preparation and a legacy laid 50 years ago by his family.
The majority of Filipinos did not recognize that Mar is honest and truly caring for this nation, the best qualified and intentioned, a good man.
They did not appreciate that by denying Mar the Vice-Presidency they denied Noy, a President they so dearly want to succeed, of a key ally for reform.
I am saddened because it confirms my worst fears that the Filipino time and again is his own worst enemy in choosing (or in this case not choosing) his leaders.
Mar is not our Vice-President. The debate will go into the night for the reasons therefore. Much will be said about the strategy, the presumption of victory, the failure to connect, the funding gap, the cleverness of his opponent, the color of his shirt, the cheating and nullification of votes; but in the end none of this matters. We are where we are and we move on. All things must pass.
So, Mar, where to now?
By law, there is the compulsory one year sabbatical from public office. So an extended holiday, golf, the start of a family are possibly in the works.
After that Mar has reportedly expressed an interest in the Interior portfolio, arguably the most powerful in the cabinet and a natural platform if he is interested in another run at high office. Interior allows one to dwell on the nitty-gritty and personalities of local government, the machinery so valuable in an electoral race.
Mar could take another crack at the Senate in 2013 where he would be a shoo-in. The question is whether that is enough to successfully run for President in 2016. Mar has been there, done it and the nation did not get it. Why would it be different the second time around?
In truth, the Senate is not a particularly good platform to bid for the presidency. Senators do not govern per se. They horse-trade and, if we are lucky, law-make, none of which connects a Senator on a daily basis with the common man. In this sense a big city mayor is better capable of showing results, proving good governance
For a Senator to show he is presidential material, he must be prepared to go out on a limb, challenge the old boy (and girl) Senate network, do the dirty work of politics. This is not Mar’s style. He has too much breeding for that and breeding in politics is not an asset.
There may be another venue for Mar to stay relevant to the people but one a road less travelled.
Al Gore went from losing a Presidency to winning the Nobel Peace Prize when, following his defeat, he decided to espouse a movement focusing on the environment. On the back of this many believe Gore could have run for President in 2008 and won.
In India the Gandhis reportedly have a youth movement with 23 million members, about 2 % of the population (This would be about 1.8 million members if translated to the Philippines). Politically these numbers get you noticed.
Mar, this is food for thought.
There is room in this country for someone of standing to lead an initiative, outside of but parallel to Government, focusing on value formation, education, environment, social justice and livelihood, with emphasis on the young. The endeavor would harness the energy left over from the elections by the NGOs and the reform minded, the constituencies that carried Noy to victory. If this energy could be institutionalized and coalesced with other sectors- business, media- it could be a powerful platform to compete with family dynasties and “pop” politicians for the minds and votes of the electorate in 2013/16.
If Mar has thoughts of future high office he should stay connected to the people, certainly to the 14 million that voted for him (This, one forgets, is more than the number that voted for Erap and Gibo combined). Leading such a grass roots movement would be a way to do that. It is hard and unglamorous work but it is work that is real, work that matters.
It would show that Mar is not shrinking from defeat, that he is continuing in public service, this time in a purer and more unselfish form, without the trappings of officialdom.
Without rancor it would show Filipinos they were wrong in May 2010, that as Mar is deserving to have co-led this nation now, so is he deserving to do so in 2016, at the highest level.