Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Let's start talking issues

My June 16, 2015 column.


Former First Lady, Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially launched her bid for the highest post in the United States of America over the weekend with a rally and a speech that clearly outlined what a second Clinton presidency would be about. She presented her vision and defined her major advocacies.  But more importantly, she put herself out there, presenting herself unequivocally as the person America should vote as its first woman (and grandmother) President.  In so doing, she defined herself and what she stands for rather than allowed others to do it for her. 
One wishes the people in this country who want to be president would learn a thing or two about leadership, purpose, and forthrightness from the woman because it really is time to talk about the important issues in this country.
Of course there are people who are turned off by the seeming aggressiveness; in fact, that has always been one of the criticisms directed at Clinton – that she seems to want it all.  I think that the criticism is actually a reaction to her gender, there are still people even in America who thinks a woman should not be too aggressive; after all, the same criticism would not be made of a candidate who happens to be a man.  But we’re in the Philippines where people are not necessarily threatened by strong women – we’ve produced two women presidents, for crying out loud, not to mention the fact that some of the most feared people in government today are women.  My point is simply this:  I wish our so-called presidentiables would take their cue from Clinton and declare once and for all their desire and interest in running for president.  Even better, it would be  great if all these politicians actually define themselves and the issues they represent and allow these to propel them forward.  I wish someone with enough grit comes forward to bravely talk about issues and answer the critical questions: What exactly are you bringing to the post of president of this country?  What issues define you and your proposed presidency? Why are you running for president? Why should we trust you and not someone else?    
Unfortunately, what we have - with less than a year towards the elections – is a bunch of people who have mastered the art of playing coy and obfuscating facts but all the while keeping a keen eye on the results of surveys.  In short, we have a bunch of siguristas who all want some assurance of support and winnability before they commit.  And yet they all fancy themselves as nationalists who will do anything for the country.
In the meantime, they make appearances here and there, refuse to confirm nor deny their candidacy but nevertheless go our of they way to answer issues, and pretend that they have nothing to do with those ads and posters.  Many are shamelessly courting the President, or the political parties, or some influential groups, using personal relationships as bases for the discussion rather than issues or platforms.  This predilection reaches ridiculous heights when people start talking about personal loyalties, family ties, and about continuing supposed legacies as if it is a confirmed fact that people want an Aquino, or a Poe, or a Marcos clone in the Palace.     For crying out loud, if we truly want someone who thinks and acts like Aquino, we might as well amend the constitution and re-elect him rather than settling for a copycat. 
It is time to start talking about issues because that is the only way we can separate the myth from the fact. 
It is time for Senator Grace Poe to respond to questions around her acquisition of a US citizenship – why did she renounce Filipino citizenship when it is an established fact that she and her family were not exactly deprived of opportunities in this country? 
Senator Panfilo Lacson should squarely address the issues of his seeming distrust of the Philippine justice system and his fellow Filipinos that he had to go into hiding rather than subject himself to the very laws he helped create and swore to uphold. 
Mayor Duterte must tell us how exactly he plans to replicate the Davao City success story on a nationwide scale without turning the country into a garrison state, transforming the military into a monster, and without trampling on the rights of citizens. 
Vice President Binay should present a fool-proof plan of action that would convince people that corruption will not be a hallmark of his proposed presidency.  Of course he must also present incontrovertible proof that he is not corrupt, contrary to what his accusers say. 
And Secretary Roxas should come into his own, emerge from the shadow of the President, and declare exactly what his own plan of action is – independent of the Aquino administration.  Come to think of it, Roxas must simply start telling us who he really is without his surname, his wife, and his connections to all the previous administrations.

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