Who’s afraid of 2016?
I WOULD have wanted to start the new year on a bright note, or at least by being brave, but what I’ve seen so far makes me afraid instead. If Tito Sotto’s No. 1 rating in the senatorial election surveys is any indication, we are headed for another political fiasco in May. The political resurgence of the part-time comedian and lawmaker did not result from any notable accomplishments in the Senate, but was the effect of the explosive rise of “Aldub” to worldwide fame.
If you need further confirmation of the impending election disaster, candidate Francis Pangilinan, another politician more famous for his show biz connection than his accomplishments, is running second in the race. It looks like Manny Pacquiao is headed for the Senate, too, and Alma Moreno, despite that disastrous TV interview, is not totally out of the running. Pretty scary.
Still, the more frightening bogeyman scenario paints itself, with Jejomar Binay’s reclaiming the lead in the fight for all the marbles, which is the presidency. I tend to believe that there really isn’t much to expect other than the usual lesser evil among the presidential wannabes, given the very lean cast of characters from whom we have to choose.
To be fair, it’s premature to lay the verdict on the Vice President as being the worst of the lot; history will ultimately be the judge. Each of the other “presidentiables” has his or her unwanted baggage that each can only hope the people will ignore when they cast their votes in May. But there is no denying the facts. Rodrigo Duterte clearly has his human rights record to contend with, which, come to think of it, is really his own undoing for the braggart that he is. Grace Poe is facing disqualification and possibly an indictment for perjury from false declarations made in previous successful forays into public office. Mar Roxas’ political-identity crisis won’t go away for as long as he remains widely perceived as nothing more than President Aquino’s clone. Finally, Miriam Defensor Santiago, self-proclaimed cancer survivor, will always be confronted by questions about the state of her health in both body and mind.
Which brings us back to Binay. The fact that, with the hidden-wealth scandal and all, he managed to make it to the top in the recent presidential survey ratings should make the other “presidentiables” realize just how lowly the public thinks of them. The Dutertes, Poes, Roxases and Santiagos of this world have only themselves to blame if they all go down in history as losers to a candidate who should, by his mere failure to explain to us where his wealth came from, have no business winning the presidency.
The other reason we should be afraid of 2016 is the very real possibility that if political trends maintain their track, we might have a Marcos for vice president. Imagine what havoc a Binay-Marcos administration can wreak, not only on the economy but also in our sense of history as a people. If he stays true to his campaign promise, Binay is all set to make an advocacy out of letting political dynasties flourish, as well as to abolish term limits, which simply means that with his children still so young and yet so politically well-entrenched, this country will have to live with the Binay brand of politics over the next hundred years. Of course, there would be no stopping the dictator’s only son from eventually gunning for the presidency.
So who’s afraid of 2016? I am, and I do feel that many are afraid as well. But no one should be more afraid than the outgoing President himself, and I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes (not that I can choose to, anyway). We must remember that sometime during his term, Mr. Aquino said that if the railway transit system was not fixed during his watch, he would, along with Transport Secretary Jun Abaya, allow himself to be run over by the train. Every opportunity came their way and went, but never did the President fulfill his promise. Six years later and now that the end is near, Malacañang is reduced to doing some damage control by dismissing the statement as a mere figure of speech—in short, a joke. But the problem is that no one is laughing. Few are willing to forgive and forget.
On the other hand, many are actually clamoring for P-Noy and Abaya to lie down on the tracks and man up—to do as he said they would. While he is safe for now, wait until he steps down from office. Soon enough, the ghosts of the past, like the Mamasapano incident, the DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) fiasco, and all the enemies he made along the way, will haunt him till kingdom come. And it’s really pretty scary.
Adel Abillar is a private law practitioner with a small office in Quezon City where, he says, “I alternate between being boss and messenger.” He obtained his law and prelaw degrees from Manuel L. Quezon University and the University of Santo Tomas, respectively.
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