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Concentrate on your vote

I am in deep concentration, deciding who to vote for president. This election is very important to me. I am in the sunset of my life (to be poetic about it), or in the predeparture area (to echo the callous young‘uns’ ribbing of us oldies). This could be the last presidential election I will be exercising my right to vote. And I don’t want my vote wasted on an unworthy candidate.

To be honest, choosing who among the presidentiables deserves not just my vote but everyone else’s is no easy business. Four are bunched together in the voters’ preference survey. This tells us two things: All of them, in the eyes of the public, have equal qualifications to become president, and none of them, again in the eyes of the public, has the superior physical, mental and moral makeup that astound, excite and fill the people with relief and joy that at long last we’ve got a truly remarkable future leader!

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I am having coffee with Prof. Emmanuel Rosas Rubio, a genius at multiplying his calling. He was a hotshot copywriter at the advertising agency I used to work in, where he styled himself as “Spunky” to denote his defiance of any attempt by any idiot (his word), whether account executive or client, to change a word of his copy.

Then he became a born-again freak, organized a regular bible study session among like-minded gals and guys in the office, and preferred to be called “Maestro.”  He has appended “Professor” to his name since a radio talk program host addressed him thus in seeking his analysis of current political affairs. So he now styles himself a political analyst.

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So. At a coffee shop with Professor Rubio, I decide: Why not pick his brain on who among the presidentiables is most deserving of my vote?

“Not Binay!” he declares. “The guy is not honest with us. He is accused of finagling millions while mayor of Makati through overpricing of building projects but would not make a credible effort to clear his name. All he would say when asked about shenanigans in Makati, on which the Senate spent 36 investigative hearings, is ‘Pulitika lang ’yan!’”

I remonstrate: “But Binay says he will prioritize the welfare of the poor when he becomes president because his heart is for the poor as he himself came from the poor.”

“Before Binay talks about having come from the poor, he should first clarify he is poor no more, and explain how he got his wealth estimated at around P2 billion, which was subsequently corrected by his daughter Abigail in a TV interview. As far as she knows, she said, the family has only P600 million in the bank.”

“What about Duterte then?”

“I am not comfortable with Duterte, and not because of the unfortunate rape joke for which the mob of holier-than-thous are raking him over the coals repeatedly. No, my discomfort with Duterte arises from his core take on the presidency. Very disturbing. He says, in all seriousness, ha, ‘Anyone who is afraid to kill or be killed cannot be president. I don’t know about you, but I won’t help put the presidency in the hands of a loony with that kind of mindset.”

“Ikaw naman,” I say, adding that the candidate was probably merely being flowery in his language. “Baka bulaklak lang ng dila niya ’yun.”

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“Terminating with extreme prejudice another’s existence or one’s own as a matter of course is a basic trait that anyone aspiring to become president must have? C’mon!” the professor bellows, nearly toppling his coffee mug.

“OK, I get the picture,” I say soothingly. “Let’s move on to Poe. How do you size her up?”

“You know, Grace is a nice girl, simple, quite intelligent, but she’s so green! Kulang na kulang sa experience.  I have my doubts she’ll be able to handle the load of issues that are dumped on the presidential table 24/7. Just to illustrate, she was asked by Duterte in one presidential debate: What’s the first thing you’d do if you were roused from sleep and informed that one of our Coast Guard boats was sunk by the Chinese Navy? Grace, obviously flabbergasted, replied: The first I’d do? Why of course I’d first get up from bed. No, no, Poe will not do as president—yet. Perhaps in 2022, after she has gained enough political savvy and sophistication about state affairs.”

“Yeah, I agree. Now Roxas—what can you say about Korina’s husband? May karapatan bang magpresidente?”

“I feel sorry for Roxas,” says the prof. “He is an extremely capable man. Honest, not a taint of corruption attached to his name, educated, hard-working, can cite achievements that benefit the country.  But why is he pictured as low in estimation by the public, lower than Binay, whose reputation is tattered, I would imagine beyond repair? Roxas’ problem—why his rating in survey after survey does not rise—can be attributed to the mediocre efforts of his image handlers. They are simply confused, at a loss on how to package their product.”

“Are you saying Roxas is dejado in this presidential race because—” I start to say before I get cut off.

“Because he should have kicked ass in his communication group but didn’t,” the prof asserts.

“Well, that’s that. And Miriam, is she even worth talking about?” I uncharitably blurt.

“Well, I admire Miriam’s courage. She’s a cancer warrior like you are, but she jumps into the race anyway, thinking, I suppose, that none of the others in it is worthy of the presidency. I’ll vote for her—not expecting her to go anywhere but home, to register my communion with her estimation: that this year’s bunch of presidentiables is sufficiently ignoble to be ignored.”

That’s the professor, fighter, maestro, who will back a sure loser than a triumphing ignoble. Me? Still undecided.

Mart del Rosario ([email protected]) is a retired advertising-PR consultant.

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