‘Candidate’ Poe

Neophyte senator Grace Poe overtakes vice-president Jejomar Binay as the top possible contender for the 2016 presidential elections, according to Pulse Asia’s May 2015 survey. For the first time, Binay slides to second place.

First-off, let me say that I do not subscribe to the idea that survey results should be used by the electorate to decide on who to go for. Rather, candidates should be subjected to a “fitness test” based on specific qualifications we believe are necessary for a president to have. The president should be able to effectively lead government in addressing the many complex problems we are beset with.

We need the one most fit for the job to win the elections. This person may or may not be the most popular based on surveys. “Winnability” as a factor in electing public servants not only limits our choices, it significantly affects how our country is managed, or mismanaged by the popular people we elect. We should have learned our lessons by now.

These surveys are snapshots of people’s preferences and perspectives on possible candidates at a given time and place. At best, survey results can be used by those who aspire for government positions as guideposts on how best to improve their chances of winning elections. Surveys should be useful for potential candidates but should not be a major consideration of voters.

This is the reason why I support the position that survey results should not be made public. Instead, these should be between the firms and those who commission them to do the surveys.

Of course, this is not the case in our country. Survey results influence lots of election-related matters. “Investors”, or contributors to campaign kitties bet on the popular ones. After all, this is very much a business deal for them and they will put their monies on the “winnable” ones.

Thus, woe to qualified, experienced, and well-intentioned people BUT without the millions needed to win elections! They will most probably drop out of the race. Popularity based on survey results very significantly determines the final list of candidates. Even just on this aspect, voters’ choices have already been limited. We have already been “manipulated”.

This is part of “realpolitik” in this country.

The May Pulse Asia survey results tell us that two of the most probable candidates are Poe and Binay. I will not analyze said results as this is already done by several political observers. Rather, I will focus on what I think should be done by the two top contenders so the electorate can make a better judgment come election time and not just rely on popularity or winnability.

I have written about Sen. Grace Poe’s “magic” and I think the survey results indicate that it is there. While she has yet to make, or announce the big decision, let us consider her as a shoo-in candidate.

So far, her handlers are doing a good job in terms of making her more popular, helped by, if I may add, the blunders committed by Binay’s group in attacking the senator. Poe herself is showing her potential.

She is able to turn “personal” issues hurled at her into socio-political ones. Notice how she made her being a foundling into one of “foundling children should be cared for and not marginalized by society” issue? The same thing happened with the Binay snide about electing someone capable. Poe skillfully spun this into a question of integrity beyond capacity. She has completely put the Binay camp to the defensive. So far, Grace Poe shows compassion, strength, and power.

Poe should now move on to crucial issues and significantly leave questions on residency and citizenship to her team and lawyers.

As a voter, I would want to know more. I need her to articulate her position on crucial socio-political issues. Among other things, I am interested on her take on poverty reduction strategies; the existing “labor export policy” and local job creation; divorce and how pro-women programs based on our laws can be strengthened; addressing corruption; traffic and solutions to the messy transport system; energy and power generation; disaster preparedness and management; resolving the Moro issue; and, China’s encroachment in our territories.

In short, we should be made aware of Poe’s platform of government and goals. A master plan for achieving these goals within the six year presidential term of office is necessary. People might say this is a tall order, and it is.

However, Poe can become a game changer in terms of how presidential campaigns are conducted if she does this. Focus on substance rather than personalities, solutions rather than propaganda. This will help better educate our voters. This can be the start of new politics.

Something like this has never been done. The closest I know was during the campaign of now President Benigno Simeon Aquino III with his Covenant with the Filipino People. This contained his platform of government. BUT, there was no specific goals and plans that could have been achieved within his term.

A set of goals and time-bound plan are important because no one president can solve all our problems but if a strategic direction is set and specific goals achieved, we may successfully advance as a country.

Poe is the youngest of all possible presidential candidates and she may be the most open to pursue out of the box strategies and approaches. If she chooses to, she can be the way to veer away from personality-based, traditional politics.

Certainly, “candidate” Poe should be watched.

Next week: “Candidate” Binay


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