Tell me who your candidate’s friends are | Inquirer Opinion

Tell me who your candidate’s friends are

/ 04:08 AM January 17, 2022

There’s a simple way to judge a person’s character that we’ve known since high school. We’ve used it as a means to choose our friends. We pick our friends by looking at the kind of friends they hang out with. It’s a cliché, but one that overflows with wisdom: Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.

The method of judging a person by the kind of friends that he/she keeps, comes in handy when it relates to the question of who deserves our vote among the presidential candidates. This is true especially when it comes to the top two candidates—Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Leni Robredo—because their friends and supporters are starkly opposite in the attributes that matter.


On the side of Marcos Jr., big political names have declared support for him: former president Joseph Estrada, former senator Jinggoy Estrada, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, former senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Sen. Bong Revilla, and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. Controversial lawyer Larry Gadon is rabidly pro-Marcos. China flaunts its support for Marcos Jr. by inviting the latter to an embassy ribbon-cutting ceremony even if Marcos Jr. is not an incumbent government official and shortly after he filed his certificate of candidacy.

Let’s look at the consequential attributes of these Marcos Jr. supporters. Joseph Estrada was convicted by the Sandiganbayan in 2007 for plundering P400 million. Jinggoy Estrada is facing trial for plundering P183 million. Arroyo was charged for plundering P366 million, but was acquitted in a controversial Supreme Court decision. She was audio-taped talking to an election commissioner (“Hello Garci” scandal) uttering words interpreted as soliciting the election to be rigged in her favor and against the late Fernando Poe Jr.


Enrile has a pending plunder case involving P172 million in kickbacks. Revilla was charged with plundering P224 million, but was acquitted in a controversial Sandiganbayan decision. Tellingly, however, Revilla was ordered to return to the government P124.5 million as civil liability. Sara Duterte has no known criminal case, but she benefits from and will be saddled with the responsibility of burying the sins of her father, just like Marcos Jr.

Larry Gadon has been suspended by the Supreme Court and he faces a disbarment trial because of his “atrocious (and) beastly behavior” which he showed as he filmed himself hurling the most foul language one has ever heard against a female journalist.

China has claimed 500,000 square kilometers of our country’s exclusive economic zone, an area bigger than our country’s total land area. It has bullied our fishermen from fishing and our military from patrolling in our maritime waters.

What will these supporters gain if Marcos Jr. wins? What motivates China in showing support for Marcos Jr.?

Who are the supporters of Robredo, in contrast? There are some politicians with checkered pasts who side with Robredo, but their numbers are overshadowed by a different variety of supporters. For instance, many consequential Catholic and Protestant cardinals, bishops, priests, and nuns have exhibited support for Robredo. The big schools have come out for Robredo, including Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, University of Santo Tomas, Adamson University, and even San Beda University, President Duterte’s own alma mater.

Many celebrities in the entertainment industry have openly expressed support for Robredo. Numerous civil society organizations are openly campaigning for Robredo. Recently, 23 former Cabinet and high-ranking members of former president Fidel Ramos’ administration have expressed support for Robredo.

What motivates these supporters in backing Robredo? What will they gain if Robredo wins? What’s in it for them?

For voters who are confused or misled by the vitriol, fake news, and conflicting information on the top two presidential candidates, look at their friends and supporters instead. The friends they keep, and the kind of supporters they attract, may yet provide the answers that voters are looking for.

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