My post-debate analysis of the second presidential debate

2nd Presidential Debate

From left to right: Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe, and Mar Roxas (courtesy of Rappler)

I have mixed emotions on the entire process of the debate because of prolonged delay of the commencement of the actual debate as Jejomar Binay brought documents to supposedly present his rebuttal against corruption allegations and reportedly, Mar Roxas vehemently opposed it based on COMELEC debate rules where no presidential or vice presidential candidate should bring notes with him/her to use as references of his/her arguments against its opponents. There was really inconsistencies indeed, as TV5 had contradictory rules from COMELEC and created miscommunication between Binay’s camp and COMELEC and TV5.

Speaking of actual debating performances, I think Grace Poe outwitted everybody else because she remained herself cool despite personal tirades thrown at her by Jejomar Binay regarding her natural-born status.

Mar Roxas had an impressive performance but the problem as when Digong Duterte and Grace Poe both grilled him on his performance as DILG secretary in dealing illegal drugs problem and Mamasapano massacre respectively, he lost his cool and kept throwing tantrums to them to the extent that moderator Luchie Cruz Valdez warned him to rein himself as he ran out of time in answering Poe’s questions.

Digong Duterte had really difficulty articulating issues which didn’t have expertise in particular on climate change issues and he really sounded like a denier nut and really, missed a point on how to eradicate crime problems in our country within short span of time and Roxas actually swept him regarding the issue. Back of climate change issue, he had a point that developed and highly industrialized economies are hypocritical regarding the issue, but it doesn’t mean that our country should invest more on environmentally destructive coal power and instead, we should allow foreign investors to invest in much cheaper but cleaner natural gas or even nuclear fission energies.

Jejomar Binay really doesn’t deserve to attend the next presidential debate anymore because of his primary goal was to embarrass Roxas via slapping him with documents which it was an epic fail and aside to that, he sounded like a twat bigot who cannot accept the fact that Grace Poe is a Filipino citizen and has remained to be such for her entire life though she used to be an American citizen.

Supreme Court decision on Grace Poe’s candidacy is rational

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Grace Poe speaking as she announced her presidential candidacy. (courtesy of Philippine Star)

I have apologized everyone that this is my first blog post this month because for the past three weeks after the 30th anniversary of EDSA I Revolution, there were so much profund changes in our political landscape that would shape our country for next the years to come like the decision of the Supreme Court to affirm the presidential candidacy of Grace Poe, current senator and leading presidential candidate, despite oppositions from certain people ranging from different reasons like her naturalized American citizen or being a foundling.

I have decided to defer until at this point from making a blog post about the decision until I fully read the contents which I took for a week. Based on what I read on why the Supreme Court allowed her to continue her presidential candidacy were the following:

  1. Her natural-born status was presumed upon as our 1935 constitution – the constitution in force when she was born in 1968 – did not explicitly mention about foundlings although one of petitioners before the COMELEC First Division, Francisco Tatad argued that it meant to exclude foundlings like Poe using the rule of statutory constitution that what is not included is excluded. Our international laws, which we have been a signatory since the heydays of the enforcement of 1935 constitution, further treated foundlings like everybody else who have not been abandoned by their parents.
  2. Another fact from the residency issue was that it did not necessarily for her to be a Filipino citizen from the first day she reestablished her domicile in our country on May 24, 2005 and RA 9225 or law allowing dual citizenship for Filipino citizens permitted her to assume residency as a Filipino before she regained the citizenship on July 18, 2006 or more than a year later.
  3. Those who filed petitions to disqualify her forgot the fact that COMELEC did not have a jurisdiction in a petition for quo warranto against presidential and vice presidential candidates until they win in their respective positions. Thus, it committed a gross abuse of power in rendering decision which did not have a jurisdiction in the first place.

These three reasons aforementioned especially the last one are one of the obvious weaknesses to exclude Grace Poe from the presidential race via disqualification due to weaker understanding on the contexts of the framing of our 1935 constitution and subsequent statutes regarding natural-born requirement or residency of a Filipino citizen and being chained upon by the delusions of strict constitutionalism which deny the inevitable imperfections of a written constitution over time. In other words, they have forgotten that our constitution and statutes are living documents and interpretations vary depending on circumstances or situation changes.

Another fact that they have forgotten was the immediate and long-term repercussions of Grace Poe’s disqualification on the legitimacy of whosoever wins as president of our country. Since power emanates from the people, it would be impossible for someone’s authority to be respected by everyone if his/her opponent was robbed out of the presidency via disqualification or worse, electoral fraud; that was really happened under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency when her legitimacy issues never subsided despite of her election for her own presidential term in 2004 due to allegations of electoral fraud and months before the election, attempted disqualification of Grace Poe’s adoptive father based on similar citizenship issue she faced, 12 years later. The Supreme Court justices have been aware that implications and for me, it was a part of their discernment to allow Grace Poe to continue her presidential candidacy for the sake of future stability of our political system, regardless of whosoever wins the presidency. Although I used to be one of staunch opponents of Grace Poe’s candidacy based on residency issue alone, but I realized that I was wrong as I read the full decision and I think the Supreme Court made a rational decision on this landmark case and everyone of us should respect the decision, if you really care for the rule of law and the future stability of our country.

Remembering 30 years ago at EDSA

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Millions flocking at EDSA to call for Ferdinand Marcos’ ouster.

Today is exactly 30 years after Ferdinand Marcos was ousted from power, after more than 20 years as president and dictator, and ascension of Corazon Aquino as president after days of protests at the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or EDSA, as a result of highly polarized but fraudulent results of the snap presidential elections which was called upon by him to quell doubts of his capability to lead the country in midst of declining credibility brought by excesses of Martial Law, assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino in 1983, severe depression in 1984-85, and presidential succession feud between Imelda Marcos and Juan Ponce Enrile. These events I’ve mentioned, had created doubts whether Ferdinand Marcos could able to survive as president beyond 1990, given the fact that he was already suffering lupus and could not anymore govern the country by himself but his cohorts. The assassination of his archival, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., further tarnished his credibility to govern the nation, not only in the eyes of many who had resisted his regime but the international community led by the United States. The reason on why Ferdinand Marcos called a snap election before American media was to relieve pressures of his regime in the eyes of the American government as he had to rely from them for the survival not only as president but also his planned anointed successor, likely his wife, Imelda.

The presidential campaign for the snap elections was really intense because of mud-slinging from both Marcos and Aquino sides, in order to gain votes for them to assure continuity of the regime beyond 1990 for the Marcoses and reversing all kinds of achievements and excesses of the Marcoses for the Aquinos. On the election day, February 7, 1986, the voting was tense because of harassment done by Marcos supporters to prevent prospective Aquino voters from voting in their respective polling stations and during the counting of votes at the prescient level, there were reports of ballot snatching across the country, especially in areas where Cory Aquino was expected to win, to derail the possibility of Marcos’ defeat in the hands of a mere housewife. When the COMELEC already conducted its quick count for the presidential and vice presidential results, five computer programmers walked out from the Philippine International Convention Center or PICC, the venue of the quick count, claiming that the Marcos camp had already manipulated the results for them. Meanwhile at the Batasang Pambansa, Ferdinand Marcos and his running mate, Arturo Tolentino, were proclaimed by the assemblymen members, mostly came from KBL, after gathering highest number of votes for their respective positions. These post-election turmoils had resulted into protests which were called upon by Jaime Cardinal Sin on February 22, 1986, calling for the resignation of Ferdinand Marcos and eventually millions of disgruntled people went to EDSA to follow Sin’s call and gained further sympathies after Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Constabulary Chief Fidel Ramos defected from the Marcos camp and joined the protesters. On February 25, 1986, both Corazon Aquino and Ferdinand Marcos were inaugurated as presidents of the country where the former made it at the Club Filipino while the latter at the Malacañang, hours later after Cory’s one. At night on the same day, Ferdinand Marcos, together with his First Family and his closest allies fled Malacañang and sent them into exile to Hawaii where three years later, he passed away and after the end of Cory Aquino’s presidency, his body was returned to the country and displayed in his residence in Ilocos Norte, awaiting for a burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in the future.

30 years later, the Aquinos and the Marcoses are still active whether in local and national arenas and in fact, the only son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, Noynoy, is the current president and expected to end his term at the middle of the year while the only son of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, Bongbong Marcos, is the current senator and right now, running for vice president and if he wins the position, his presidency in 2022 would be seem to be inevitable. The eldest child of Ferdinand and Imelda, Imee, is the current governor of Ilocos Norte. Imelda herself today is the current representative of the first district of Ilocos Norte. All of the candidates of the current presidential and vice presidential elections are veterans themselves of the Marcos regime like Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Miriam Defensor Santiago and Gregorio Honasan or children of benefactors and opponents of the Marcos regime like Grace Poe, Francis Escudero, and Alan Peter Cayetano and Mar Roxas. Only Leni Robredo who have no family and political connections with the famous people during the Marcos regime. Most of all, one of the key actors of the EDSA I revolution, Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos, are still alive and politically active until this point and both of them, outlived Cory Aquino, who died in 2009 due to colon cancer and her death brought her only son to the presidency. Heck, Jovito Salonga, one of the fervent opponents of Ferdinand Marcos alongside Ninoy Aquino, is still alive at the age of 95, though no longer active with politics since his final senatorial term ended in 1992!

Indeed, many of the actors of the Marcos regime and the EDSA I revolution have survived after 30 years together with the most Filipino people like my parents, uncles, and aunts who had grown up during the Martial Law years and my grandparents, uncles, and aunts who had both supported or resisted the regime and this is the lesson for everyone especially those who were born after EDSA I revolution like me that we should cherish freedom and democracy bestowed upon us after years of struggle of our parents and grandparents under the midst of the excess of the Marcos regime which should not be repeated in foreseeable future. We should be thankful that we are enjoying the free flow of information via internet which we cannot enjoy if we remain under Martial Law.

My assessment on presidential debate (per candidates’ performances)

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Presidential candidates with their respective podiums before the start of the debate at Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro. (taken from COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez’s Twitter account)

Sorry if I’m already too late of posting on this assessment of mine about the performances of presidential candidates during the recently concluded first presidential debate sanctioned by COMELEC at Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro as the day after the debate, I had to roam about the city itself before I left for Cebu via Trans Asia 10 at around 8 AM and unfortunately, I could not accessed internet via LTE on board because my tab had low battery and I wasn’t able to bring the charger of it (went off when I was surfing Facebook while sailing around Southern Cebu before I arrived in Cebu City port) and thus, I have to post my assessment, more than 2 days after the debate. My assessment can be accessed also hrough my FB account as I posted it, morning after the debate and before I left Cagayan de Oro for Cebu.

Here are my assessments for each of the candidates’ performances:

1) Poe – she articulated a lot and answered all the questions thrown to her by the moderators well though some of her answers seemed to be a bit improbable like free lunch for pupils.

2) Santiago – well, her declining health had been obvious and stuttered a lot especially about the EDCA issue; nevertheless, her intellectual wit remained for somewhat and would have been a runaway winner of the debate if she was healthy.

3) Duterte – obviously, the rule of the debate didn’t resonate well with his temperament of being a feisty because he and the rest of the candidates in general, were time-limited in answering questions from the hosts and rebutting statements from their opponents and I think, if the debate format was similar to US presidential primary debate, he would have been a runaway winner; nevertheless, he really articulated for somewhat his federalism platform though about eradicating crimes, he was obviously under illusion that he could eradicate them within 6 months at most.

4) Binay – actually his debating performance was really all about defending his accomplishments as being a chief executive in Makati for years and dissing his bitter rival, Mar Roxas though he was able to articulate about his strengths on tackling poverty especially among farmers and actually, his plans are mostly realistic. The debate format prevented him to maximize his strength as a candidate and had the debate was similar to its US counterparts, he could have demolished Roxas or vice versa.

5) Roxas – he really articulated well about the accomplishments of the “Matuwid na Daan” mantra of the current administration but seemed to be focused himself on dissing Binay every time the hosts told him to rebut Binay’s statements. Therefore, he was all about stopping Binay and vice versa and think that there should be a special debate between them to show who’s really a better candidate.

Manny Pacquiao is wrong about same-sex marriage

Last night, after taking dinner and surf on the net via Facebook, my newsfeed pooped up with a video with Manny Pacquiao being interviewed by the TV5 and asked whether he is for same-sex marriage or not. He said that it is “common sense” that a male should have romantic or sexual relations with a female and vice versa for humans and then he elicited that same-sex relations for humans are worse than animals. Netizens are divided with the his sentiments based on comments posted under the comment section of the FB video using religious and scientific grounds.

Obviously, he doesn’t know the history that human homosexuality and same-sex marriage have had predated Christianity because of our human affection to attach with someone else regardless of his gender and if he and everyone carefully history, homosexuality and same-sex marriages had already been present in ancient civilizations in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, China, or even in Mesoamerica. In regard to same-sex marriage, it was already recorded in Ancient Egypt history that Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, two royal servants during the Fifth Dynasty of the pharaohs around 2400 BCE, became couples despite of having already families respectively and when both of them died, they were buried together and their tomb was discovered in 1964. The most famous same-sex marriage in the ancient times happened during Roman Empire era where one of the infamous emperors, Nero, married a freedman named Pythagoras in a public ceremony. Homosexuality and same-sex marriages had been frowned upon for almost 2000 years because of global predominance of Abrahamic regions particularly Christianity and Islam and have only gained their modern acceptances in the 20th century due to the emergence of the concept of equality and affirmative action.

Also, he doesn’t know the fact about animal science or zoology that homosexuality is not uncommon within the animal kingdom because animal hormones are designed to make sex with whosoever they meet and since they are not sapiens unlike humans, they are not clouded with any certain moral norms and could do sex with their fellows freely. The argument about animal sexuality was cited by the American Psychiatric Association and other groups to argue for the removal of remaining sodomy laws in the United States in 2003 over the landmark case of Lawrence v. Texas which paved way for legalization of sex-same marriage in Massachusetts, a year later, and eventual legalization throughout the United States in 2015  over the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges.

I understand his religious and social beliefs, but expressing those in public especially this election campaign season would get an ire or ridicule from citizens who have understood the imperfections of current marriage laws which have been based from certain misinterpreted verses of the bible. I think we need to reassess our judgments or sentiments regarding this issue because we tend to think irrational if we discuss issues that affect our moral and religious beliefs because social irrationally hinders long-term development of our culture and society in general through repressing beliefs of someone which are considered “heretic” by the society.

I rather have him lose the upcoming elections and stick with his basketball coaching career and preaching Christian doctrines as minister in order to save the country from further ridicule and degeneration of our current rotten political system because if he wins as senator, his presidency would be inevitable given the fact that most electorates, unless there are systematic political reforms, elect candidates who are already well known for years instead of electing someone who is capable and qualified for certain elected posts. His future presidency would be disaster because of his erratic decision-making tendencies during the height of his boxing career and have persisted throughout his current political career and I don’t see him to correct his tendencies not because of him per se but his political and religious advisers who are expected to be part of hypothetical Pacquiao’s presidency in 2022 or 2028.

Political machinery still matters

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Jejomar Binay raising the right hand of his running mate, Gringo Honasan. (credits to Yahoo!)

The official campaign season for national positions has already started since Tuesday. The official start of the campaign period signifies that candidates for national position can fully focus themselves in mounting a national campaign without accusations of electioneering that most candidates have been doing for months mostly via social media before last Tuesday. This period is the opportunity for the administration party to spend billions of pesos from the coffers to ensure its candidates to win the election to continue the policies of the current government have been laying down for the past six years. This is also the opportunity for the opposition parties to spread their platforms or sentiments against the current administration just to win support from many who have been disgruntled with the policies, way of governing, or some the person leading the administration.

This election season is way different from the past because of the emergence of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, and internet forums which has partially transform the way of discussing your political discernment as the new medium can able those who have internet access to share their sentiments to their friends or to the public within short span of time, seconds by the way, and can able to access news, blogs, or journals from government websites or civil society groups, anytime and anywhere to help formulating your political judgment on certain issues you are interested with.

The emergence of social media has been positive in democratizing the political discourse, though in a middle-scale and mostly enjoyed by middle class people like me right now, but it has not been entrenched yet especially among lower class people coming from the urban slums and provincial areas due to lack of internet access and most of all, lack of education about political participation and socialization due to abysmal educational system where students are trained to be followers not to be leaders because if they are to be trained to be the latter, it would threaten the rich politicians’ grip in power and might result to messy redistribution of wealth in favor to lower class people.

The lower class people without internet access comprise the majority of the Philippine population and the expected voters for the upcoming elections. Because of such reality, presidential candidates especially Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas have been relying support from the grassroots typically from their political leaders like mayors and barangay captains who can mobilize their constituents who are mostly living below poverty line to vote for candidates who are being endorsed by their leaders. Presidential candidates have reasons to reach out with the grassroots because these people could make them president and at the same time, could overthrow them though unlikely these days.

Many netizens would disagree with me based on the title of this article alone, but we must be realistic with our political and economic situations where majority of the electorate can be still bought by politicians during few days before the voting day because of what I said earlier, lack of education about political participation and socialization and poverty where someone belongs under the poverty line have no disposable income to pay internet access just to access what’s happening in our political discourse. If we want to have our elections not being driven by political machinery, we have to alleviate our poverty rate and educate the people about political participation and socialization, so that we can build a numerous and strong middle class sector because these are the people who can discuss and make political judgment based on pragmatism not absolutism or emotionalism that most upper class and lower class people have been basing from respectively.

Why Mar Roxas won’t win the election

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Presidential candidate Mar Roxas interviewed by news presenter Mel Tiangco (credits: GMA News TV).

Honestly, Mar Roxas is one of the most qualified person to become the president of our country for the next six years. He has been in electoral politics for more than two decades since the death of his younger brother, Dinggoy and has been a national figure since former Joseph Estrada appointed him as secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry and stayed with the post even after Erap’s resignation during EDSA II. He has made several achievements that we are benefiting right now like the flourishing Business Process Outsourcing or BPO (though all credits should not go to him) and cheaper generic medicine. He became senator in 2004 and in fact, elected with highest number of votes during that time because of his posturing as “Mr. Palengke” to connect himself to the masses. He used his senatorial term as a springboard for his ultimate ambition, to become the president of the Republic of the Philippines and since then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became unpopular due to electoral fraud and corruption allegations, he distanced himself from her and after 2007 midterm elections, he was already considered as one of the presidential contenders for 2010 along with then Senate president Manny Villar and then Makati mayor Jejomar Binay, his eventual opponent this election. The scenario had changed unfortunately to him when former president Cory Aquino died in August 2009 after suffering with colon cancer and her death immediately changed the landscape of the presidential race that time, 9 months away, by the way. The clamor to let then fellow senator Noynoy Aquino to run for president was increasing and thus, dooming the presidential ambition of Mar Roxas because Noynoy and Mar came from the same party, the Liberal Party, and it would be a destructive to the opposition that time to have both run as president under separate tickets and to prevent factionalism in LP, Mar Roxas eventually gave up his presidential ambition and slid down to as vice presidential candidate for Noynoy Aquino. The election went other ways to them; Noynoy won the presidency while Mar lost the vice presidency to Binay. His defeat didn’t stop him his aspiration to become president as a year later after the election, he was appointed as secretary of Department of Transportation and Communications and another year later due to unfortunate death of Jesse Robredo due to plane crash in Masbate, he was appointed as secretary of Department of Interior and Local Government and used the position as the vehicle to his recent presidential candidacy.

Despite of his experiences and qualifications, there are so many hurdles of Mar Roxas’ ambition to become president of our country. Those hurdles have been used repeatedly for many years, by the way. One of the hurdle of his candidacy is his upper-class origin, being a son of former senator Gerry Roxas and grandson of former president Manuel Roxas. Being a member of political upper-class echelon in our society makes him so aloof to the public who mainly come from lower-middle class and lower class echelons as he has a difficultly understanding the plight of those people because of the single fact that he grew up with silver spoon and the general public would obviously cringe his upbringing and this same people would rather rally for allegedly corrupt Jejomar Binay over unblemished Mar Roxas because the former grew up like them while the latter didn’t. Another hurdle to his ambition is his snobbish personality behind the scenes brought by his upbringing as he had inability to deal with several local officials like Tacloban mayor Alfred Romualdez during the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda as Mar said to Tacloban Mayor that “You’re a Romualdez and the president is Aquino” and those statements made Mar unlikable to become president as being president, you have to be a conciliator and seemed that he cannot do that because it would contradict his grown-up personality. The hurdles I have mentioned are the reasons on why Mar Roxas will not become our president to succeed Benigno Aquino III and I think his presidency would be as mediocre as the current one because of his lack of concrete vision for our country that the electorates have been searching for years. Mar, if you want to save your candidacy, it would be better to support ideas that would alleviate the poverty like removing the foreign equity ownership restrictions from our constitution as you had supported when you were the secretary of DTI during Erap’s presidency.