Feb. 12 marked the start of the 2013 and 2016 campaign seasons. It was also the day Noy and Jojo stopped holding hands.
It is time. This “dance macabre” between the President and the Vice-President was weirding out their supporters. The union was never one of soulmates, it was a shotgun marriage (not consummated, I gather) imposed by the Filipino people. As the wards of this unlikely couple, we must now decide who should have custody of our future. May 2013 presents the first such occasion.
The Senate election is said to be a referendum on the President. A vote for Team Pnoy is a vote for Daan Matuwid… but is it really?
Team PNoy is not an ideology, it is a color. It is yellow or, as suggested elsewhere, yellower since UNA is affirming itself to be of the same palette, albeit of a lighter (or should it be a darker?) shade.
Team PNoy walks and talks like a duck but is not a duck. It is a political dromedary, a camel created by committee. It is a gathering of strange bedfellows: three candidates who are shared with the opposition, the head of the Senate minority, the wife of a departing Senator who ran against P-Noy in 2010, a refugee from UNA, a maverick who led two coups, a wealthy aristocrat with time on her hands, the scion of a political family whose true north is unknown, a relative, a lady crusader and an honest political ally.
The purists have bewailed the selling out of Team PNoy to the politics of the street, the dilution of the President’s ideological DNA. They believe most of the ticket will abscond once elected and cannot be counted to either fully support his reforms or, for that matter, his nominee in 2016 (One has already proven that). They would have preferred if the President had assembled a team of truer disciples even if this was the riskier option.
Team PNoy tells us that, for better or for worse, governance is a continuing calibration of principle and compromise. The President must believe the nation is not mature enough to elect a Senatorial ticket of neophytes garbed with nothing but a halo. Rather than relinquish the Senate to the Opposition, he chose to field a slate that while hardly pure, would be open if not always behind his initiatives. As Machiavelli said, good outcomes sometimes require questionable deeds.
The Administration also needed the money to finance its campaign and that required a ticket that was winnable. In politics, money follows the polls. The group had therefore to include candidates who had name recall (Legarda, Escudero, Cayetano, Trillanes); who had geographical pull in key battlegrounds (Pimentel in Mindanao); who had the cash to pay their own and some of the poorer relatives’ way (Madrigal, Villar); and who had political lineage (Angara). To this unlikely crew was added a sprinkling of believers (Bam, Risa and Jun M) to preserve what was left of the bloodline.
That, from among 95 million Filipinos, the President cannot find 12 winnable persons of competence and integrity speaks of our body politic as it does of our national leadership. The Filipino is indeed perhaps not ready to choose wisely. Risa Hontiveros is a case in point: In 2010 Risa came out 13th in the Senate race; today, after almost 3 years of what should have been a learning curve for voters, she ranks 18th.
But the fault also lies in the failure of the Administration in general and the Liberal Party in particular, to nurture promising candidates who could challenge the old guard. It also did not develop the brand to attract the best and the brightest.
The excuse was the LP leaders were too busy running the country. They forget an essential obligation in building a great enterprise –be it Steve Jobs and Tim Cook in Apple or Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore- is siring a worthy line of succession. In leaving the country’s future leadership to the whims of history the LP is arguably failing the nation.
Team PNoy is an assembly of convenience that will decompose into its natural elements as soon as its members are proclaimed. But not to worry, we are assured, there are still 3 years to go, that just as PNoy emerged in 2010, so too will a person of promise rise from the throng. So if you are a supporter of the President, vote the ticket if only, like a Papal doctrine, as an act of obedience, an act of faith, or an act of desperation.
Just do not be disappointed if, again like a Papal doctrine, the product when delivered does not perform as advertised.