Is the country ready for Grace?

PerryScope
By Perry Diaz

President Aquino swears in Senator Grace Poe upon her election to the Senate.

President Aquino swears in Senator Grace Poe upon her election to the Senate.

Some people call someone who is in the right place at the right time, lucky. Some say it’s destiny. Grace Poe, who was elected to the Senate in 2013 with the most votes in a crowded pack, must either be lucky or destined to be a senator.

A survey taken by Social Weather Stations (SWS) last March showed Sen. Poe in a statistical tie with Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay in popularity. For the first time, Binay’s popularity rating went down by 1% to 36% while Grace’s popularity rating shot up from 21% to 31%! But with the bombshell that the Court of Appeals (CA) dropped on Binay last May 11 freezing 242 bank accounts and insurance policies belonging to him, his family, and alleged “dummies,” Binay would have difficulty convincing his supporters to stay with him.

Speculation is rife that Binay would eventually drop out of the race. With two plunder complaints filed against him and his son Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. before the Office of the Ombudsman, it’s just a matter of time – as early as June? – before the plunder charges are filed with the graft court Sandiganbayan. And at that time, the Sandiganbayan would issue arrest warrants against them. The plunder cases are in connection with the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall parking building and the Makati Science High School building amounting to P1.2 billion and P1.33 billion, respectively. And because plunder is a non-bailable offense, they’d be put in detention.

Crowded field

Presidentiables in 2016.

Presidentiables in 2016.

Although Binay could still run for office while his plunder cases are pending, he would not be allowed to leave detention to campaign. But whether he will run or not, Grace would have a good chance of winning the presidential race. However, if Binay dropped out, the number of presidential wannabes would dramatically increase, which would be numerically advantageous to Grace. In a crowded field of seven or more candidates, all Grace needs to win is 25% of the vote, with the other 75% spread among the other candidates.

With only one election to her credit — a senatorial run in 2013 — Grace would need an organization to make sure that she’d retain the support of those who voted for her in 2013. She may also be the benefactor of the “command vote” of her father, the late Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ), who ran for president in 2004 against then incumbent president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo but lost the election due to massive electoral fraud. With the support of the loyal admirers of FPJ, it would provide Grace with the boost she needs to carry her over the top.

Maturity

Grace Poe (right) with, left to right, Ballsy Aquino Cruz, Cory Aquino, and Susan Roces.

Grace Poe (right) with, left to right, Ballsy Aquino Cruz, Cory Aquino, and Susan Roces.

But what seems to be the difference in next year’s presidential derby is that for the second time since the country’s independence, there is a female candidate who doesn’t fit the mold of the “trapo” — traditional politician – that plays realpolitik at the expense of the public good.

In the two years that Grace has been a senator, she has shown the maturity of a responsible public servant. Her singular effort to press for the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, which President Aquino refused to include in his legislative agenda and certify as “urgent,” speaks highly of her dedication to the mandate entrusted to her by the electorate.

It’s interesting to note that with her personal advocacy for the FOI bill, it easily passed the Senate. However, it’s not moving in the House of Representatives because the President’s allies wouldn’t pass it without the President’s endorsement.

Cheap shots

Happier days: Grace gives Binay a beso-beso.

Happier days: Grace gives Binay a beso-beso.

Grace’s critics – including Binay — were saying that she is not ready for the presidency. The other day, Binay took a cheap shot at Poe, saying: “It is dangerous to pass the leadership of the country to leaders who lack experience and competence as it would aggravate the problems currently being experienced by the country.” But Mr. Vice President isn’t it true that the biggest problem in the country today is corruption?

In response to Binay’s attack, Poe said, “More than experience and competence, what the country needs is an honest leader.” And this hit a sore spot in Binay because he and his family members are currently being investigated by the Ombudsman for allegations of corruption. Grace urged Binay to face the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee and answer these allegations. And when she was asked if she thinks Binay did not possess the quality of an “honest leader,” she said that Binay has yet to explain the corruption allegations.

Grace Poe and mother Susan Roces show picture and posthumous National Artist Award to FPJ.

Grace Poe and mother Susan Roces show picture and posthumous National Artist Award to FPJ.

But for a San Francisco-based Filipino-American group, Grace’s qualifications for the presidency are questionable. The group even questioned her qualification as chairman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to which President Aquino appointed her. Heck, Grace’s parents – FPJ and Susan Roces – were rock stars in movieland! Isn’t that good enough?

Dual citizenship

Photocopies of Grace's US and Philippine passports.

Photocopies of Grace’s US and Philippine passports.

The group even claimed that Grace is a U.S. citizen. True. But what they forgot – or choose to forget – is that Grace is a dual citizen just like most of them. And since these were the same people who advocated – and worked — for the passage of Republic Act 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Reacquisition Act, they know that a “dual citizen” could run for office in the Philippines. Yes, a dual citizen is as “first-class citizen” as Jojo Binay.

But the difference between Grace and Jojo is that Grace is not tainted with allegations of corruption while Jojo refuses to disclose how he accumulated his “unexplained wealth,” which by Philippine law makes him guilty of corruption.

Indeed, it comes down to honesty vs. greed. And which one would you like to lead the 100 million Filipinos: an honest and unseasoned person or a greedy and skilled person? Here’s a hint: an inexperienced person can learn to become competent while a greedy and corrupt person will never be honest and an honest person will never be corrupt.

Grace-Poe.7With all the brouhaha about Grace’s qualifications for president, Grace has yet to declare whether to run or not. However, there are subtle signs that she is going to run. The fact that she made it known that she’s not interested in the vice presidency narrows down her plans for 2016. It’s either she is going to run for president or finish her term in the Senate through 2019. And what’s in store for her in 2019? Run for reelection or retire. But that would be a waste of her talents. Like they say, strike while the iron is hot. Yes, it’s now or never, and Grace is aware of that.

At the end of the day, Grace knows she’s ready to lead her country. But the question is: Is the country ready for Grace?

(PerryDiaz@gmail.com)


23 Responses. Have your say.

  1. tagaiyam says:

    BTW…… what does the Philippine Constitution say about one who is not born in the Philippines could run for President of the country? And is she not the daughter of Marcos?

    • perry says:

      Hi Grace Poe was born in the Philippines. She grew up without knowing her real dad. She was raised by FPJ as his own daughter.

      Perry

    • philip says:

      Even when she was not yet in the limelight, persistent rumors were that Grace was born in the US of Filipino parents and was conceived in the Palace gun room courtesy of Ernie, the procurer. The story of her being abandoned at an Iloilo church door seems like a teleserye script and why would a prominent couple like FPJ and Susan adopt a child of unknown background when they can choose one from thousands in the MM area?

      Also, half of her adult life was spent as a Llmanzares working mostly as a clerk in some US federal offices and was never even been a supervisor or executive. Isn’t the Presidency of a country too huge a jump?

      Her main claim to fame was that she unexpectedly topped the 2013 senatorial elections as a result of her styling herself a Poe again (poor Neil), the adopted daughter of the popular FPJ who was cheated in the 2004 elections. In short, she won only because of reflected glory and sympathy.

      Our latest example of reflected glory and sympathy not working well is PeNoy himself. Poe may not fare any better as President because of her inexperience.

      By the way, to settle her birth issue once and for all and inasmuch as Bongbong already calls her “sis” and she calls him “brod” (on a TV interview, Imee rightfull called her “stepsister”), why don’t they submit to a DNA test? This will clarify for all eternity Grace questionable bloodline.

  2. Jaime says:

    True, Grace is not corrupt. Pinoy is not corrupt either. Both Pinoy had no executive experience when he became President. Grace will be the same if she ran and won. Pinoy has had his incompetent friends which he appointed to critical positions and have done badly. What does Grace have? Will she get advisors who are proven to be effective and honest? Will she place in her cabinet these kind of people? When she declares that she is running, the press should start asking these kinds of questions. If she has no answers or evasive answers, that is a warning that she could become a bad President because she does not know what preparations are required to be a good Executive.

  3. Susan Dilkes says:

    I met Senator Poe last year, 2014. I can tell you that she can lead the Republic of the Philippines if she is elected for President now. She is strong, very focus and ready to listen to everyone.
    The Philippines has full of honest, talented and visionary people who can assist the Senator in any issues that will impact the quality of life of the Filipinos.-

  4. Fernando Habito says:

    As adopted daughter of movie icons…by. the late FPJ and Susan Roces..Grace Poe enjoy the lucks of being the persona who inherit the charisma of her adoptive parents .Although she herself admitted that she is not yet ready or preferred to become the No.1 leader of the nation her popularity surge because majority of the Filipino voters/electorates are shallow and short sighted about the true qualifications and experience of a good president. Her experience as Chairwoman of the PHL Movie Screening Board is too short and limited in understanding the real agenda and issues with regards to the economic,social,legislative and political cultural practices that counts strongly in the national developments of the country..Perhaps as Vice President or remain as Senator will give her more time to learn knowledge and experience depending on her the consistency of her performance by her own self not from the glories she inherited from her iconic adoptive parents….Give Grace Poe sufficient time to be herself.

  5. albert abellanosa says:

    Yes, huwag na Poe tayong paluko sa mga kawawang mukha ni Nog2. Tandaan po natin marami ng pera ang natapon at nasayang sa mga corrupt na politicians na kung umasta ay parang panalo na at sabi nga ni Mareng Wennie, VP Binay is ARROGANT. So, sa 2016 tandaan poe natin na ibuto lang poe ang tapat, malinis at walang bahid sa corruption na kandidato sa 2016. Huwag na huwag poe tayong paluko kay Vice pres Binay. and yes, Grace is ready & i believe we Pinoys are ready for another woman president. Maraming salamat poe sa inyong lahat. thank Perry for this excellent article as always. God bless everyone & God bless the Philippines.

  6. zeny says:

    Corruption is the main problem in the Philippines, not the lack of experience of the Chief Executive. If a person is truly honest, she or he can find ways to select only honest people to be part of the cabinet. But if a person is already known to be corrupt, this person will only be more corrupt once in the top post such as the Presidency. Grace Poe seems to be the only one that deserves a chance to prove that honesty should be the only policy.

  7. Monin says:

    Maybe we’re better off with an inexperienced president. Look what happened with our experienced ones.

  8. Bobby Bagos says:

    Cory was pretty much in the same boat when she took the presidency from Marcos, her intentions for the country and its people was truly an honorable one sadly though, she picked some of the worst individual to help her accomplish the difficult task of getting our our country back on track after two decades of tyranny from an evil dictator. Grace without a doubt could do more for the country, she seems pretty level headed and has not yet been tarnished by corruptions, at least not yet. Binay on the other hand is doing his best to make it to Malacanang, he is hoping that winning the presidency could save his crooked ass from going to Muntinglupa instead. The future of country again lies in the hands of our kababayans, let’s hope that they make the right choice or it will be hell again for six more years.

    l headed and have more integrity than crooked vice president and she has not yet been tarnished by corruptions. Binay on the other hand is doing his best to get to Malacanang, the presidency is the only thing that could save his ass

    • philip says:

      Lest we forget, Cory was the godmother of the biggest crook ever because ahe didn’t know what she was doing!

  9. Bitoy says:

    Perry, can you enlighten me on this? I am also a dual citizen.

    But when I took my oath when I reacquire my Filipino citizenship. This is what Consul Castaneda told me at the Philippine Embassy of New York. “You have reacquired all the rights and privileges of a Filipino citizen, except to run for public office.” Please enlighten me as I am confused.

    If I renounce my US citizenship, can I still run for public office, more particularly as President, which requires natural born citizens, but my Filipino citizenship was reacquired through naturalizaton. Assuming Consul Castaneda is correct, do you think I did not violate any law of the Philippines if I ran for public office more so if it is for President?

    Please, enlighten. Thanks.

    • perry says:

      Hi Bitoy,

      If you’re a dual citizen and decides to run for office in the Philippines, you’re supposed to renounce your US citizenship. This is also true if you’re going to run for office in the US. Basically, you can’t serve two masters.

      Perry

  10. Mac Flores, Jr. says:

    One of the major weaknesses in Cory Constitution is the Presidential system.

    It limits the people’s choice of desirable leader to govern the country every national election. Secondly, it allows undesirable voters to vote directly undesirable Presidential candidate to win the election.

    A dedicated voter has no option but to vote a “lesser evil” candidate. A ‘dilemma choice”, isn’t it? Yet, PHL politicians are not so concerned about this issue.

    When you combine the role of Head of State and Head of Government into one person who is elected as a ‘lesser evil’ choice, the result is disastrous.

    Under Parliamentary system, the people will not elect a president to head the government. It is high time to educate the people on the difference between a Parliamentary system and Presidential system.

    One should not be surprised that after so many years, the PHL is lagging behind compared to its neighbors. I can understand concerned parents that, with deep regret, they encourage their children to seek their future in foreign lands.

    If I were to vote, I will not vote for a “lesser evil” candidate. This is the reason why I opted for NO ELECTION, so that the present administration can focus on Constitutional amendments instead.

    Tsk, tsk, tsk, sayang ang panahon at pagkakaton ng bansa sa pag-unlad.

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      The integrity of our justice system really need to be cleaned and sanitized first before we can cure the number one disease that is truly hurting our country… corruption. Goodness gracious, how long does it take for our justice system to try and convict some of these low life’s? The Maguindanao massacre trial is nearing its fourth year and still no conviction, Ate Glow and her plunder case, nothing and it’s probably going to be the same with those crooked senators. Somehow if you’re involve in politics and got caught with hands in the cookie jar, our justice system takes its time putting a noose around your neck but if you’re either a lowly civilian or a rich civilian your fate is pretty much sealed. Napoles had been sentenced to life for illegal detention yet those nasty Ampatuans who murdered more than 50 people are still just waiting around to be pardoned, maybe. Most of us are probably not going to be able to witness the rebirth of our country, Poe or no Poe. I’m beginning to wonder, out of 100 million Filipinos, how many of them still have common sense in their DNA?

  11. perry says:

    Perry,

    The question is whether or not Grace is ready to tackle the enormous, numerous and immediate needs of the Philippines. She may have no record of dishonesty, but is that enough? Her popularity as the daughter of a famous actor and actress couple is good, but beside the point when it comes to leadership. Her advocacy for the Freedom of Information move is great, but what else? We ought to hear her stand in other more urgent and controversial problems, too many to enumerate here. It is too early to ask if the country is ready for Grace.

    Lourdes Ceballos
    (Sent by email)

  12. perry says:

    Hi Lourdes,

    The question should really be: Who is the lesser evil? Given all the criteria you’ve mentioned, who is the most corrupt and who is the least corrupt? On a scale of 1-10, I believe Binay is 9 while Grace is 0. I’d rather throw my support behind an honest and incorruptible novice rather than someone who is experienced and competent but corrupt to the bones.

    Thanks,
    Perry

  13. jose balmadrid says:

    If Grace under her Presidency can pass approval of the FOI,., that is big enough accomplishment for a President, none of the past Presidents have ever accomplished. If she could implement/execute the Anti Political Dynasty law, that should better our country and people a lot more than at any time.

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