There’s the Rub

Good news, bad news

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There’s good news and bad news in the last Pulse Asia survey.

The good news is that Migz Zubiri is no longer in the “Magic 12.” Looks like Koko Pimentel’s dogged refusal to make the world forget that the fellow stole four years of his life, or office, is paying off. Pimentel’s ploy of singing a variation of John Lennon’s “Imagine” in sorties, to wit, “Imagine there’s no cheating….” is particularly inspired.

Zubiri, of course, has twitted Pimentel back, asking why he’s so obsessed with him, could it be because Koko has nothing to show for his two years whereas he has accomplishments to spare to show for his four? Alas, he misses the point, which, even more alas for him, the electorate seems to have finally gotten. Even assuming his claim is true, which is debatable, to say the least, the question remains: What right did he have to do anything of what he claims he did? It’s the same with his favorite non-president, Gloria: You grant she did all that she says she did, the question remains: What in God, or Garci’s name, was she doing there?

Some things are worth being obsessed about. Some things people have a duty to be obsessed about. Reminding the electorate cheating is wrong is one of them. Reminding the voters a candidate has enjoyed four years of stolen office is one of them. I had been wondering for some time what had happened to the Filipino’s sense of right and wrong that Zubiri should be in the Magic 12. I had been wondering for some time what had happened to the Filipino’s sense of decency and fairness that he should be high up among them.

As Pulse Asia shows now, it was merely temporarily lost.

The good news is that Jackie Enrile is now barely clinging to the lower rungs of the ladder. Give it a bit more time, and he’ll slip away completely. He already has in SWS. I can’t think of anyone more undeserving of public office, he surpasses even Zubiri in that respect. It’s not just that he supplies the perfect definition of dynasty politics, someone whose claim to office has nothing to do with himself, it has to do only with the presumed virtue—in this case, a totally manufactured, reinvented, freshly painted virtue—of his father. It’s also that my generation at least knows full well the kinds of agony and torment he put people through, which were comparable to what his father did.

The good news is that Bam Aquino and Grace Poe-Llamanzares have continued to pole-vault through the ranks. They, on the other hand, are the perfect definition of what dynasty politics is not. They are their own people, notwithstanding that they come from well-known families or clans. I know both of them and know them to be very intelligent and strongly principled. Bam did an outstanding job in the youth commission and Grace in the MTRCB. From the start, I told both of them there was little doubt in my mind they were going to win, and win big.

In fact, the only thing that kept them from barging to the top from the very start was that they came in late. Bam quite literally: He decided to join the fray at the 11th hour, firming up his decision to run only late last year, after consulting with friends and relations. He lost no time doing double time after that, with these results, a not surprising one where I stand. I suspect he will go still higher up. The charge of dynastic politics hasn’t hurt him, it has carried no traction. On the contrary, his family name, associated as it is with a good name, has done wonders for him.

Grace came in late only psychologically. Until late last year or early this year, many Filipinos did not even know she was running. All it really needed in her—and Bam’s—case was for the people to know she was. It can’t hurt that though she is officially no longer with UNA, Erap in particular will continue to campaign for her. It can’t hurt as well that she’ll probably get a sympathy vote because of her father: Most Filipinos now think FPJ and not Gloria won in 2004. I suspect the only reason she is not already in the top five is that she is using “Grace Poe-Llamanzares” instead of simply “Grace Poe.” The second establishes the link—specifically that she is FPJ’s daughter—more clearly and forcefully.

The bad news is that some of the usual suspects are still there. The worse news is that Risa Hontiveros and Jun Magsaysay are not.

Risa is bright, personable, and possessed of tremendous conviction. She has been a leading light of women’s causes and was one of those who greatly helped to push the RH bill, which has earned her a spot in the Bacolod diocese’s roster of dishonor, which is really quite an honor. She is one of those P-Noy ardently campaigns for, which makes it a wonder why she hasn’t clambered on to 11th or 12th. Is it because, as some reporters tell me, she doesn’t come across as very warm? Well, I’d rather go for aloof and distant, which Risa is not, she’s perfectly passionate about her cause, than someone who too warmly embraces one cause and another, or one party and another, as mood, or convenience, suits her.

Jun is one truly nice guy, apart from one truly decent guy. He is also, however, one truly laidback guy, preferring to let his deeds rather than his words speak for him. Which can be unfortunate in elections, particularly in a country that isn’t always able to distinguish glitter from gold. Jun Magsaysay has been at the forefront of fighting corruption, a thing he is eminently qualified for, having had no taint of it attach to him in his long years of service. Lest we forget, he was the one who hounded Joc-Joc Bolante for carrying out the fertilizer scam at the bidding of his master. He continues to this day to work for their conviction.

Well, they’ve still got a month and more to turn the tide. I earnestly hope they do.

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