In the winning circle

Pulse Asia in its latest survey listed 14 candidates for the Senate landing in the Magic 12.  Included in the winning column are reelectionists Vicente Sotto, Serge Osmeña, Ralph Recto, Ferdinand Marcos. Jr., Senate President Franklin Drilon, returning senators Panfilo Lacson, Richard Gordon and  Francis Pangilinan (who resigned as presidential assistant on food security), resigned Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and boxing icon Manny Pacquiao.

Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo, who’s being groomed as Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas’ VP running mate, did not make it to the Magic 12. What does that say about pulling votes for Mar if she can’t make it to the winners’ circle as senator, a national position? It may be why Leni prefers to run for reelection in her CamSur district, where she is sure of winning.

Senator Bongbong Marcos though has not made up his mind on whether to run for reelection or seek higher office. There are talks he’s being wooed by Vice President Jejomar Binay to be his running mate. Marcos, however, might yet decide to go after bigger prize—the presidency—before the filing of certificates of candidacy deadline on Oct. 12. Next week, therefore, is being watched by everybody. Bongbong Marcos’ decision on his political plans could change the political mix in 2016.

Personally, I would like to see Dick Gordon return to the Senate. I’m not really too keen about a Manny Pacquiao in the Senate. He should just stick to boxing or at the very least run for governor of his home province in Sarangani. But because of our voters’ penchant to elect popular candidates,  it would not be too far-fetched when we might see the Aldub team of Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza also elected as senators of the realm.

“God, what a country, only in the Philippines!” to borrow phrases  from two other columnists who are  neighbors on this page. And if I may add two other lines such as “we deserve the government that we get” and “we have seen the enemy, and it is us.”

Issues left to next administration

Whoever takes over as President after the next elections will have to deal with issues and pending bills left by the Aquino administration. There are at least four major issues the next government will grapple with. Foremost of these issues is the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law whose passage looks dim in the Senate even if the House is being nudged by President Aquino who wants it approved before he exits on June 30, 2016.

The Senate and the House set a Dec. 16 deadline for the BBL’s passage but it still looks iffy with legislators already campaigning for reelection or seeking higher office.

Relative to the BBL is justice sought for the 44 PNP Special Action Force commandos massacred in Mamasapano, Maguindanao by combined elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters. The MILF has warned government troops not to enter rebel-held areas to serve the arrest warrants on the rebels the justice department named as respondents in the incident. This is a difficult task with the perpetrators still at large;  the MILF takes care of its own. Surrendering them to the government would prejudice the very existence of its organization.

The SAF commandos are casualties of war. If anyone should be made to account for their deaths, it should be commander-in-chief Aquino and his suspended PNP chief Gen. Alan Purisma whom the President assigned to direct the ill-fated police operation.

Another measure already dead in the water is the Freedom of Information Bill. It needs needs revisiting after Aquino promised its passage but reneged on it after media gave him no quarters in the five years of his bumbling, pork-barrel laden watch.

The Anti-Dynasty Bill which has been pending for decades in Congress also needs attention if the political playing field is to be leveled. But what traditional politician would enact a bill that would emasculate him and prevent his family from perpetuating their rule?

Charter change is another vital measure that has to be revisited to keep up with the times. Aside from revising the law on foreign investment, a federal system and parliamentary form of government like in our Asian neighbors might be worth considering.

The next president must hit the ground running and start shaking things up before the usual gang of sycophants start whispering on what he should do and what public contracts to bid out. Priority of the public biddings should be on the rehabilitation and modernization of the mass transport system .Our commuters and motorists have already suffered enough and lost so many man-hours to the traffic gridlock. There is more than enough tax money to fund a mass transport project as long as the funds don’t find their way into politicians’ pockets.

China’s distorted view

We don’t know what Chinese herbal medication Chinese leaders are taking, but their world view is dark and distorted. Take for example Beijing’s statement that Japan’s constitutional amendment to send its military forces abroad where needed is dangerous and a threat to world peace.

While Japan was the aggressor that started the Pacific War, it has since then been a responsible member of the world community,  contributing funds to aid the development of poor countries. Japan only started thinking of changing its non-militarist charter when it was alarmed by Chinese aggression in the East China Sea related to territorial dispute on the  Senkaku/Diaoyu Island and its military buildup to advance its claim in the South China Sea.

So, who’s really a threat to world peace?  Beijing also described the Philippines as destabilizing the Southeast Asian region when Manila filed a case in the Hague international arbitration court, challenging Beijing’s claim to nearly the entire South China Sea. Vietnam is also alarmed that China’s land reclamation in disputed waters of the South China Sea and turning them into military installations complete with air strips is a threat to freedom of the navigation. This is also the paramount concern of the United States.

China’s response to all these negative news is to announce more development aid to poor countries during President Xi Jinping’s official visit to Washington.The Chinese embassy in Washington must have goofed when it didn’t factor in the papal visit which overshadowed Xi’s. Pope Francis addressed a joint session of Congress and also delivered a speech at the United Nations General Assembly. The Pope also celebrated Mass in New York and Philadelphia where he was the keynote speaker at the World Families Day.

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