Poe vs. Jojo vs. Mar

“I am Grace Poe, Filipino.  Daughter, wife, mother, and with the help of God, I offer myself to you for a higher service, as your President.”

 With that statement, in Tagalog, last Wednesday, Sept. 16, one of the nation’s youngest and most neophyte senators declared her intention to be president and commander-in-chief of the 12th largest nation on earth.

While the “I am Grace Poe, Filipino” rhetoric sounds grand, it cuts in a double-edged way.  “I am Grace Poe” means she is aware the nation does not really know her that well.  She was abroad, in America, the beautiful, most of her adult and professional life.  Without her surname, she becomes nothing more than an every Grace, Tisha and Kris, a pedestrian catapulted to sudden prominence.

“Filipino.” Well, that is not yet clear today, especially with a case pending before the Senate Electoral Tribunal.  Grace Poe’s citizenship issue, along with the still-unresolved issue of her apparent lack of minimum ten-year residency, will most likely be decided eventually by the Supreme Court.

Filipino.  The record shows clearly, at one point in her life, Senator Grace, 47, gave up her Filipino citizenship in exchange for a passport from the most powerful nation on earth.  She gave up being a Filipino not out of economic privation or necessity (her father, FPJ, after all, was and is one of the richest movie figures in the Philippines).

The language of the oath of US citizenship is clear and unmistakable: “… on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen…” Abjure is a very strong word.  You reject, you abandon, you repudiate—not just your citizenship but also the country in which you claim you were born the old fashioned way—natural.

According to a diplomat I had dinner with recently, once a US citizen, you are always considered a US citizen by the US government, except when you join the armed forces of a foreign government.      

How can one desire to lead a country she gave up hope on in the past?

Still, surveys will show Grace Poe is either No. 1 or a close No. 2 among people’s choices for president.   At this point, the choices have narrowed to just three —Vice President Jejomar Binay, Noynoy Aquino vassal former Local Government Secretary Manuel Araneta “Mar” Roxas, and Grace.

Binay has become the poster boy of how corrupt and greedy a local government official can be, especially one whose family has lorded over the Philippines’ premier business city, uninterrupted, for nearly three decades—the equivalent of one generation.   For all we know, Jojo Binay is no more corrupt than any other politician.  But he has not explained adequately how he has amassed so many properties and so much wealth.  Surely, it cannot all be hard work or entrepreneurial brilliance or indescribable luck.

Roxas, meanwhile, is a caricature of the incompetence, corruption, and lack of vision of a government gone berserk in its desire to inflict vengeance and perdition on anyone who committed a perceived wrong or a crime against the incumbent president when he was still an ordinary mortal.

Roxas’s matuwid na daan slogan is actually more of the same.  The only difference is that the same is not the same.  It is worse.  Look at MRT3, traffic gridlock, the breakdown in basic services, the absence of government whenever it pours. 

As if we didn’t have enough garbage in politics, and in the streets, we even now import garbage by the container load.   The only saving grace is that the imported garbage is dumped in the President’s own home province—a 21st century interpretation of the biblical saying, “for dust you are and to dust thou shall return”.  From shit to shinning shit—a perversion of the grand lyrics of “America the Beautiful”.

Only crazy people will vote for the status quo for which Mar is the proud pallbearer.

Senator Grace?  Let us forget about her residency and her citizenship.  By habit and tradition, the Supreme Court usually listens to the voice of the people.

Grace may be a greenhorn as a politician and inexperienced as a manager.   Precisely for those reasons, you cannot say she stole money from the government, committed wrongs against the people, or that she is incompetent.

Grace Poe comes across as a refreshing figure, like an oasis in a huge desert of greed, corruption, and incompetence.

Experience?  There is no school for presidents.  Outside of Ferdinand Marcos, every person who had been president lost when he ran for reelection.  People do not give a damn about actual experience or on-the-job training for presidents.  Even former presidents are not given second chances by the electorate.

I am Tony Lopez, senior journalist, always a Filipino.  I ask you Filipino people, to make the right choice this time.  

Unlike paid political surveys, you are not allowed any margin of error this time.  Unlike traffic, making the wrong choice can be fatal—to you and to our country’s future.


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