If the Philippines were to hold a Presidential election tomorrow, Senator Grace Poe would win by a landslide. Not only does she have everything the average Filipino voter is looking for in a candidate – a popular last name and connection to showbiz personalities – she also enjoys the privilege of using her late father, Fernando Poe Jr’s death to catapult her to the highest office in the land.
As early as now, Senator Poe is subtly using the “sympathy card” to sway the votes her way. During a recent privilege speech in the Senate, she reminded everyone about how her late father was “cheated” out of the Presidency in 2004. Never mind that her father died December of the same year — about six months after the election was held — and would not have finished his term even if he had won that election.
Now before you accuse me of disrespecting the dead, please note that Senator Poe herself was the one who brought up the subject of her father in the first place. To her credit, she did not pretend to have won a Senate seat because the voters thought she was more than qualified for the job; she matter-of-factly reminded her audience that she “won in the 2013 elections precisely because people remember FPJ”. Amazingly, facts like these are quite acceptable among the majority of Filipinos as input into the decision process they apply when voting. And that’s only because elections in the country are akin more to a popularity contest than to an evaluation of candidates’ competency.
Senator Poe’s tactic is no different to what the late former President Corazon Aquino did when she used the death of her late husband, former Senator Ninoy Aquino to dupe the Filipino people into believing that the country would be better off under the regime of a housewife than a “dictator”. It was too bad many Filipinos believed in the “Cory magic” because aside from her incompetence, allegations of corruption and nepotism also plagued her administration during her term. Some even say that it was really during her term when the state of the nation started spiralling downwards. Well, it was said that it was Cory who introduced the concept of giving pork barrel funds to members of Congress in order to win their favors. Succeeding administrators eventually institutionalized the practice until the pork barrel scam was exposed in 2013.
Going back to using the dead to win sympathy votes, Senator Poe probably learned how effective it is to use a dead parent to gain the people’s trust from Liberal Party mate and incumbent President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino. The latter’s handlers were quick to use the emotional vulnerability of the public after Cory died. They made sure another Aquino name was cemented into the people’s minds before the mourning phase was over. I don’t know what it is about death and elections in the Philippines but I just feel like somebody ought to make a movie out of it already like that famous Hugh Grant movie, Four weddings and a Funeral.
Aside from using a dead relative to gain the public’s trust, politicians like Senator Poe have also learned to use former President Gloria Arroyo to elevate their own status as “honest” public servants. Although, some people could see through what Senator Poe was trying to do when she brought up the subject of the “Hello Garci” tape in her speech especially since the allegation that GMA cheated in the 2004 election was never brought to court and was never proven to be true.
It seems like Senator Poe is still living in a fantasy world where she believes that her father, FPJ would still be alive today had he won the 2004 election. Or maybe Senator Poe actually believes that the Philippines could have achieved First World status by now had her father ruled the country for at least six-months before his death.
Judging from her emotional speech, which was mostly dedicated to lambasting GMA, it seems Senator Poe is still bitter about her father’s loss in the 2004 election – 10 years later. That’s five years passed its use-by date since no charges can be filed against election offenses five years after the crime was committed. She obviously cannot move on. She can’t move on probably because there was no closure to the issue. She can thank the likes of President BS Aquino for why the case did not progress. We recall that during a Congress hearing on the alleged election fraud, BS Aquino, then Tarlac representative, was among those who voted against playing the controversial “Garci” tapes. Back then the Aquino family was still allied with the Arroyo administration. BS Aquino should also be accountable for why the truth never came out.
Before her recent speech, I had very little opinion of Senator Poe. Now I think she is just plain irrational. Just like BS Aquino, she doesn’t believe in giving individuals the right to due process. She used her speech time in the Senate to grind her axe. She acted as judge and jury while naming and shaming the people who she taught were “guilty” of robbing her father of the Presidency. She even outlined GMA’s supposed “crimes”, which included her alleged involvement in the aborted “NBN-ZTE deal, the fertilizer fund scam mess, the NorthRail project”. Never mind that to date, evidence against those cases are weak and that it is only a matter of time before the charges against the former president get dropped. That time could be when BS Aquino finally steps down from office 2016. It seems the Liberal Party need her detained to show the public he is pursuing corruption.
Senator Poe also comes across as a bit nonsensical when she keeps pining about the “what if”. What if her father won the election? In the words of the late comedian Dolphy, “Madaling tumakbo, paano kung manalo?” How would FPJ, the actor handled a financial crisis? Did he have a background in economics? He didn’t even finish high school. How would FPJ, the actor dealt with the unemployment problem in the country? Did he know anything about attracting foreign and local investors? Would he have used his acting abilities to charm them? I don’t think his anting-anting would have worked. How would FPJ, the actor dealt with natural disasters brought about by super typhoons like Yolanda? Photo ops would not solve anything. Those are just some of the big challenges that FPJ, the actor would have faced had he won the Presidency in 2004.
Her resolve to clean up election fraud during elections with her proposed bill is commendable but Senator Poe needs to get real. She can do this by using her head and accepting the fact that her late father, FPJ the actor, would not have been good as a leader of the country anyway. He would have failed miserably. She should be thankful that he lost the election because he didn’t have to embarrass himself and the country while in office.
Senator Poe did raise a valid point that could haunt even the incumbent President: “May kasabihan sa Pilipinas na walang pulitikong natatalo, nadadaya lang” If she believes that saying is true — that candidates who lose elections were cheated — then the allegation that BS Aquino cheated in the 2010 election is also true.
The Philippines has real problems that cannot be solved by a popular actor who didn’t have anything to offer other than his good looks and “kindness”. I’m sure when Senator Poe is facing the same problems during her own term after she wins in the 2016 Presidential election, she will come to the realization that her father was better off losing and staying off politics. And maybe then she and her supporters can finally have some closure. The only problem with that is, the entire population has to bear another on-the-job trainee for another six years.
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