Leaving No Stone Unturned: A Political Critique
Elections are coming up. This is the highly crucial time when we elect the leaders who will govern over us for six years. Since we are living in a democratic country, we have the power to choose our government through the right of suffrage. Consequently, we should have been able to better our living conditions in this land by finding good leaders to take up posts such as the President, Vice President, Congressmen, and Mayors. But why didn’t we?All over social media and journalistic venues are the faces and names of the people who try to edge into the minds of the Filipino citizens who will elect them on a majority vote. They say many things, swear many promises, and present themselves as the presumed saviour of the Philippines. They show us many things that they promise to do in order to alleviate the conditions of our country. But are these really true? Or can they simply be easily doubted because of their flimsy claims?
Elections are coming up!
Everything can be doubted, according to Rene Descartes. And I, as a Philosophy student, dares to take up the task of using the Methodic Doubt to scrutinize the platforms of three major Presidential candidates for the Philippine National Elections that will happen this May 2016. I will discuss in critical observation and cast plausible doubts on the reality and truth of the platforms of the following: current Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas.
BINAY, POE, ROXAS
POE, BINAY, ROXAS face off in public forum
I - Jejomar BINAY
VP Jejomar Binay presents the slogan, “Ganito kami sa Makati, pag iboboto nyo ako, magiging ganito rin ang buong bansa.” Binay promises “a government anchored on integrity, justice, compassion and competence; rewarding the initiatives of private businesses, while guaranteeing inclusive and lasting benefits for all the citizens, and care for the poor and the underprivileged.” First and foremost, this vision of a utopian government proposed by Binay is accordingly based on the successful situation in Makati. Makati, contrary to Binay's boasts, is not an inclusively progressing city. There, the rich mainly benefit from the impressive economic stability, with the poor barely coping up with what they need to live. As a metropolitan city, it falls to a disproportionate and high disparity of wealth between the rich and the poor. I have been to Makati in April 2013. Despite the stability that Makati boasts of, many residents are still struggling to keep us with the high standard of living there. Ordinary working class men and women such as drivers, street sweepers, mangangalakal, factory workers, and maids find it hard to eat well, when high prices of commodities and ingredients cause the expensive average meal cost from 100 to 150 pesos. If Binay really did care for the poor and underprivileged, why are still familiesthere, especially children, begging and living on the streets, while the youth even addicted to drugs such as inhaling rugby. Even if some will say that these beggars are part of a crime syndicate, why did Binay not care to help this victims of criminals and guide making good and honest work? Binay seems not to care about these people in the way that he does not crack down on these criminals that exploit his people’s suffering in search for riches and power to satisfy their never ending greed. Or could he be a part of the bad guys? Most people I solicited answers about the truth in Makati said that most of the welfare programs the Binay family take pride in are prey to bogus and ghost beneficiaries and thus, the welfare funds never go to the people who need them the most. We can only speculate who gets these funds.
Mareng Winnie wants Vice President Jejomar Binay to face the Filipino people
Knowing VP Binay
Problem with his platform on economic policies
Consequently, his promise of inclusive developmental economic policies will fall short because he plans to model these economic progress policies with those existing in Makati. Even if people will disregard the truth about Makati’s economic situation, the promise will still be a fallacy. This is because Makati is different from the other parts of the Philippines. Makati is conducive to economic stability because of a good peace and order situation and its distinction as a premier business hub in the entire country. You cannot expect Basilan to catch up with Makati’s economic prosperity because Basilan is not very conducive to an economic boost because of its unstable peace and order situation. In this case, he is disregarding a crucial factor in the country's progress, a unified and stable peace and order for all regions from Luzon to Mindanao. Investors will never come to build business and franchises in a place unless they are truly sure with concrete proof that they and their workers will be safe in that place.
Binay on Peace and Order
Binay unfortunately does not mention what he plans to solve the many problems of political and military stability in the Philippines - he only states that he disapproves of the Aquino Administration’s Bangsamoro Basic Law. However, a rebuttal to an argument should have a counter proof to that argument. Binay fails to give another alternative to the BBL that will help solve the tensions and conflict in Mindanao. He does not even mention any plans to eradicate, crush or force the surrender of the rebels that terrorize the rural regions of Luzon and Visayas, the New People's’ Army or NPA. He should have been able to say something about the issue on the NPA, especially since the NPA recently attacked army personnel who are going to hand the relief goods to the victims of the typhoon Nona. The fact that these rebels were able to kill military men and steal the goods intended for a welfare program towards the calamity victims should be a red flag to Binay that he needed to take action, to speak out about what he should do to these rebels. But well, maybe he acknowledges implicitly his failure in the area of peace and order. After all, he was useless in solving the Zamboanga Siege in September 2013 and most importantly, the ceasefire he discussed with the leaders of the MNLF was a fluke. If he had allowed the worsening of the situation in Zamboanga City because of his incompetence, how can he be trusted to defend and negotiate for the important deals that will take the country to significantly high economic progress and holistic development for all Filipinos? When he proved incompetent to solve the Zamboanga Siege, he also proves as impossible to achieve another point in his platform - Human rights, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion must never be curtailed. He failed to succeed in defending the rights of Zamboanguenos - How can he be trusted to shoulder the burden of championing the rights and needs of the whole Filipino nation?
Tragic Aftermath of 2013 Zamboanga Siege
Binay on Foreign Relations
He also advocates for the lifting the 40-percent limit ban of foreign ownership on land and local companies. According to him, “Foreign direct investments are desirable in order to strengthen and grow the Philippine economy, but any amendments to the Constitution must give priority to our national interests.” This statement is very vague because he attempts to float between leniency for foreign full ownership and protecting the greater interests of the nation. We should take note that the law on private property ownership is there to protect the rights and greater interest of Filipino citizens. The law is very strict about the 60-40 percentage rule on ownership because Filipino citizens must be prioritized over foreign investors. This is to ensure that the income and revenue goes to Filipino citizens, and consequently, to the Philippine government through the taxes it accrues. But Binay wants to do away with all that protection! He fails to see that the Philippine resources will be prey to foreign exploitation and abuse because when the 40-percent-ban is removed, there will no way of protecting our resources from being taken by greedy foreign investors. How then can he assure that “Small businesses must be aided in accessing capital and provided guidance” when he allows taxes to lessen in their comparative rate due to the full ownership of private property and resources - resources that should be exclusively for the Filipinos, by right of birth as natural-born Filipinos”? Will this be his bait for foreign investors and leaders in order to establish an enlightened foreign policy based on peaceful and friendly international relations, and the observance of alliances and international treaties?
II – GRACE POE
The main problem with Grace Poe’s platform is her slogan, “Ang simulan ng tatay ko, tatapusin ko…” It seems like she is afraid to step outside the shadow of her father’s kind and ill-fated 2004 successful campaign. When we look at history for the story of Fernando Poe, he had never started anything in the government except for campaigning for the Presidential Post against the then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. All the Filipino people had from him were his promises of a better government that the corrupt Arroyo administration; all these hopes were dashed when he died of a heart attack in 2005. So if Grace Poe is trying to convince the voters that she will finish what FPJ started then all she will be doing technically are promises. Furthermore, the fact that she started her political career using the name, Poe, even if she was already married, signifies that she is only using her father’s name to urge people vote for her. I particularly noted even from the start of her campaign for the Senator position, her message seems to be that the Filipino voters owe Grace Poe their approval for the sake of her adoptive father, even without looking at her credentials to qualify for the post. All we heard was that she was the beloved daughter of Fernando Poe Jr. and his wife Susan Roces, and so she got the highest number of votes out of all senatorial candidates. We never cared to ask about her background and capacity to lead so we are now surprised about the issue on her citizenship and Philippine residency, when in the first place, we should have made a critical scrutiny on her background and political prowess.
Grace Poe's 2013 Senatorial Campaign Ad
All Vague Plans
I commend her for her advocating the Freedom of Information Bill as one of her platforms but how sure are we that she will be able to do everything she promised us? She did not give concrete blueprints on her plans, merely vague ideals such as non-discrimination for all people, especially for foundlings, and even for the LGBT, and lasting peace and economic security for all Mindanawons, even the Moros, and the lowering of costs in electricity with only a handful plans to look for renewable energy resources to augment the dwindling supply in our country. She cannot even give an answer to the issue regarding same-sex marriage! Not even to propose a better alternative to the BBL! I can only hope that she will not disappoint us, despite her neophyte status in the harsh and challenging Philippine political scene.
Grace Poe bares political plans
Poe: Against Senate Re-investigation on Mamasapono incident
III – MAR ROXAS
The star of Benigno Aquino’s Liberal Party, Mar Roxas presents a platform that centers on PNOY’s “Daang Matuwid” slogan. But this banner has been questioned over and over again because people cannot really see that the road is straight towards Philippine progress. Most Filipinos do not really feel the high GDP and GNP of the Philippine economy. All they see is the high inflation rate that makes them suffer every day. The sincerity of Roxas’ determination is even questionable at best because he presents a fake image of compassion. According to Ramon Casiple of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform, “Roxas doesn’t really connect with the poor owing to his elitism.He comes off as artificial, he comes off as fake.” Most importantly, he is incompetent to prove that he can guide the Philippines to economic progress when he failed as a DILG secretary. How can he the President of the Philippines when he failed to solve the problem of MLRT malfunctions and the discrepancies with Yolanda beneficiaries?
Mar Roxas Controversies
Let’s look beyond the faces, the names, the messages the candidates portray in the coming election. We must be able to critically scrutinize the story behind each ad, each platform so that we can wisely choose who will be our leaders by June 2016. Let us leave no stone unturned in our quest to find the best leader that will guide the Philippines to fulfil its potential as a nation, in unity and harmony together with all its citizens.