10 Questions for Grace Poe

My September 20, 2015 column.

When Senator Grace Poe announced her bid for the presidency last Tuesday, she also put herself out there as a target for scrutiny and ridicule. I was told that her supporters expected wild jubilation and lots of cheering from across the land, but it looks like the reaction was far from what was expected. There were some who were hopeful, but most of the reaction ranged from expressions of disappointment, to disapproval, to outright ridicule. It appears Senator Grace Poe’s journey to Malacañan Palace will not be an easy ride, nor is it an assured one.  
I personally have not made up my mind as to who to support among the putative candidates. As things stand, it looks like it’s going to be about picking the candidate we least dislike. Poe, unfortunately, seems to be saddled with too much baggage. There’s just a lot of unanswered questions as well as unclarified perceptions about her overall qualifications. The following are 10 questions that I personally wish she would answer truthfully to help people get to know her better:
1. Did she really renounce Filipino citizenship? When? How? Why? As a related question, what exactly is the citizenship status of her husband and three children—is it true they continue to be American citizens?
2. Given that she has, at one point in time, reportedly taken an Oath of Allegiance to another flag, what meaning would she attach to the sacred Oath of Office of the President of the Republic if and when she becomes President, particularly that line that says “protect and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines?”  
3. What exactly is the Fernando Poe Jr. legacy that she says she wants to continue and perpetuate? Her father was a great filmmaker whose potentials as public servant were not realized. His kindness and generosity may have been legendary but so was his being a womanizer, among other vices. He was probably a great man, but then again so are millions of other fathers who are uncelebrated and unheralded. What makes FPJ’s so-called legacy more noteworthy than those of other Filipino fathers?
4. How exactly does being the daughter of a great Filipino filmmaker translate into becoming the best candidate for President of the Republic?
5. What exactly is she bringing to the post by way of actual accomplishments, achievements, and experiences that showcase her qualifications to become president? Given that past behaviors predict future behaviors, what in her experiences indicate that she will be able to deliver the complex requirements of the highest post in the land?
6.  As a senator who has served only half of her first term in office, how has she enriched the quality of legislation in this country? What noteworthy contributions have she made that denote exemplary performance as a legislator? Given that more senior and experienced senators have said that there remains a lot to be learned before they would consider themselves worthy of becoming president, what special learning track did she pursue to maximize the learning in barely three years?
7. Given the absence of a long-term relationship with donors and benefactors and the lack of a well-entrenched political party to draw resources from, how does she intend to finance a campaign that will require hundreds of millions of pesos, perhaps even more than a billion pesos? How can Filipinos be assured that the future of the country is not going to be sold down the river in exchange for campaign donations?
8. Given her relatively shorter political experience, whose opinions and ideas does she value the most? What exactly is the role that Senator Chiz Escudero will play if and when she becomes President? Who exactly will comprise her think tank? 
9. She has, on many occasions, chosen to take the middle ground on contentious issues. She ran with the administration in 2013 but did not sever ties with the opposition. She pandered to the INC during a recent crisis. She renounced Filipino citizenship and reacquired it when it was convenient for her. How does she respond to accusations that she is an opportunist person who picks advocacies and takes sides based purely on personal political convenience and interests?
10. As one of the popular public figures who drew attention to the LRT/MRT problem, how did she marshal the resources of her office as senator to solve the problem? Given that the problem has only worsened despite her early intervention, how does she intend to convince people of her ability to solve problems through effective resource mobilization? 


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