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Thursday, April 30, 2015

GRACE

By REY O. ARCILLA  

MALAYA
(Is she qualified to be president? Eminently!)
Grace-Poe.1To me, it was the first bit of good news I read throughout the whole of last week.
I refer to the survey report that Senator Grace Poe is now only five points behind frontrunner Vice President Jejomar Binay as the people’s preference to be the next president of the Republic.
The second bit of good news was the report that Grace said she is not considering running for vice president. I agree entirely with the reason she gave for her decision, i.e., that 2016 is the best time for her to run as president.
I will not be so presumptuous as to think that my views count on the matter of Grace running for president. However, as a voter, I am as entitled as the next fellow to express them.
But first, I must clarify that I have never met or talked with the good senator. What I say below is merely based on what I have seen in her photographs, articles I have read about her and, more importantly, the few instances I have watched and listened to her on TV and radio, particularly during the Senate hearings on the Mamasapano Massacre.
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To me and I’m sure to many others, she is beautiful. Important? Of course! In more cases than one, the physical appearance of a leader, male or female, is an added asset, not that it could spell the difference between winning and losing a political contest, but an asset nevertheless.
However, what makes me think she will be a good leader is that she exudes grace under pressure, sincerity, confidence, courage of her conviction, all amply demonstrated in her speech and demeanor.
And, above all, her eyes!
I will never forget the time when her mother, Susan Roces Poe, said after the “I am sorry” speech of Ms. Gloria Arroyo regarding the “Hello Garci” election scandal that allegedly cheated Grace’s father, Fernando Poe, Jr., out of the presidency.
Susan said something like: “It’s in the eyes. The eyes are the mirror of the soul”, referring to Arroyo’s obviously contrived manner with which she delivered her “I am sorry” speech.
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Is Grace qualified to be president? Eminently!
She certainly is well prepared academically having finished high school at Assumption-Makati where she excelled in oratorical competitions and became the Captain of the school’s debating team.
She then pursued her college education at the University of the Philippines and Boston College in Massachusetts, USA, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.
Her website has the following entry on her brief career as a public official:
“As the chairperson of the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media, she championed the passage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, which was approved on third reading by the Senate on March 10. She believes that the attainment of a just, progressive and lasting peace in the country greatly depends upon the free flow of information to the public. (Note: The FOI is one of the campaign promises that President Noynoy Aquino has reneged on.)
“Sen. Poe is also the first lady senator to serve as chair of the committee on public order and dangerous drugs.
“Over the years, she has spent her career standing for the rights of Filipino people. Making sure everyone especially children has access to quality education and proper nutrition is her major legislative priority that’s why one of the first bills she filed in the Senate was the Free Lunch Program which seeks to provide free lunch to malnourished children in all public schools nationwide.
“And true to her ‘showbiz’ roots, Poe has also filed a bill promoting Film Tourism that aims to make the Philippines into a major shooting destination for international films.
“As chair of the Movie and Television Regulatory and Classification Board (MTRCB), she advocated “intelligent media viewership” instead of “censorship” and formulated a new, age-appropriate ratings system designed to empower parents to exercise caution and vigilance with the viewing habits of their children.”
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There is one thing that caught my eye when I came across an interview of Grace with Ms. Bianca Gonzalez of Philippine Star in January last year.
Asked “what kind of Philippines she is looking forward to for her children and the next generations, Grace said:
“I would like for them to have a country that they can really be patriotic and proud of. (Note: This is what struck me most, specifically the ‘patriotic and proud’ part, which I will explain in a future column.)
“What I want to have for them is a country that thrives environmentally, cleaner air for the kids, that there would be enough food, and basically opportunities for all would be available. I want them to really believe that they are proud to be Filipinos. And you can have that if you restore trust in our institutions. I think that change in government has already started but we still have to work hard to be able to achieve a certain form of transparency. That’s why it’s important, and magpluplug na ako, na may FOI tayo. So we can head towards that. Hopefully, we have six years. Yeah, we can do something.”
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Is Grace winnable? Definitely!
…Unless she is cheated like her father was. But that’s another story. In any case, I believe that the Filipino people will no longer allow such a dastardly act to thwart their will again.
Also, I do not think it was a mere coincidence that Vice President Jejomar Binay made the statement that a “newbie” should not be president after the survey results came out. I think it was a manifestation of his concern that Grace is a winner who could beat him in the presidential race come May 2016.
Other presidential contenders also feel the same way that is why they are tripping over each other trying to convince Grace to be their running mate.
Binay said local government executives, like he was, are better able to handle national positions because of their experience and competence in governance, citing the case of the US some of whose past presidents were state governors.
He may be right, but I suppose it depends on the kind of “experience” or “competence” in governance the local government executive has.
We had a former local government official as president once. Look what happened.
Incidentally, I heard someone paint the following scenario: Jejomar as President, Nancy as Senate President, Abigail as House Speaker, Jojo as chairman of the country’s Mayors’ League and Elenita as Secretary of Health! Diyos ko po!!!
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Have I already decided to support and vote for Grace if she decides to run for president next year?
Not yet.
There are at least two more things, at this point, that matter to me.
The first is her citizenship. Is she an American citizen or a green card holder? If she is either one, I believe she should renounce it forthwith. As a senator of the Republic she should not have either one. And definitely if she ever becomes president. She cannot have double loyalty.
The second is closely related to the first… her foreign policy platform. What is it? Is she determined to pursue an independent foreign policy as mandated by the Constitution, especially as it pertains to our relations with the US?
None of our previous presidents, including the incumbent who is also rumored to be a US green card holder, has been able to cut our umbilical cord to the US. As long as we keep relying on the US or any other foreign power for our political, security, economic and financial needs, we will never progress as a nation as rapidly as we would like to.
We are a rich country with a highly skilled and knowledgeable human resource. All that we need is a competent, dedicated and incorruptible leader who would assemble a team comprised of members with the same qualities.
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Our peripatetic Foreign Secretary Albert “Super Amboy aka Giant Smiley” del Rosario said he is flying to Washington soon to follow up on the recent announcement of US Defense Secretary Ash Carter that his government wants to deploy advanced air, naval and maritime equipment to the Philippines amidst China’s ongoing reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea.
No need. Del Rosario should just wait for the US to finalize her plan and tell us about it by sending a team here. To begin with, does he even know the difference between a bazooka and a howitzer? If he insists on going, he should bring with him weapons/equipment experts from the AFP.
We also don’t want to appear like we are begging again from our big brother whose interests will also be adversely affected if China is not dissuaded from continuing with her reclamation activities in the WPS.
Del Rosario also said the government is now looking at options other than filing protests to deal with the Chinese intrusion in the WPS. It would be most interesting to know what they are. Understandably, he did not reveal them.
Meanwhile, his boss, Noynoy, said he will raise again the territorial dispute and push for the adoption of an enforceable Code of Conduct when he attends the ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur from April 26 to 28. I am afraid it will be another exercise in futility.
Last week, I wrote: “I have said it before and I’ll say it again… it ain’t gonna happen… unless the pro-Chinese members in the Association, namely, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar change their minds. The Association, unfortunately, decides by consensus. The lukewarm attitude or, shall we say, cautious approach or even doublespeak of the other Asean members towards any move that they perceive might jeopardize their relations with China is an aspect that Noynoy and Del Rosario should also not overlook.”
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The Reminders (for Noynoy) portion of this column will be published next week.
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Today is the 356th day of the eighth year of Jonas Burgos’ disappearance.
I dread to think of how many more years it will take before Jonas’ disappearance is finally resolved. It is beginning to look like it will not be during Noynoy’s daang matuwid watch.
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From an internet friend:
Faith healer: “Tumayo ka Tatang.” Dahan-dahang tumayo si Tatang na nasa wheelchair.
Faith healer: “Ngayon, lumakad ka Tatang. Lakad! Sige, lakad!”
Naglakad si Tatang nang dahan-dahan. Nagulat ang mga tao.
Faith healer: “Ano ang masasabi mo ngayon, Tatang?”
Tatang: “DI PA RIN AKO MAKAKITA.”

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