So a viable winnable candidate who could pose a serious challenge to Vice President Jejomar Binay’s bid for the presidency in 2016 has emerged. Senator Grace Poe has come up as the second most popular presidentiable according to a Pulse Asia “survey” conducted in November wherein respondents were asked who they would vote for President if the elections were held at the time. Poe attracted the vote of 18 percent of the survey respondents, although Binay still topped the poll with 26 percent of respondents saying they would vote him for President.The race to the Philippine presidency is now between Binay, a former mayor of Makati City and widely-believed by the nation’s “intelligentsia” to be a crook and Poe, daughter of the late movie action star Fernando Poe Jr (FPJ). Although Poe has reportedly been “coy” about calls for her to step up to the Binay challenge, if anything else, she ticks all of the three key boxes in the winnability checklist:
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(1) Strong showbiz link. Check!
Poe is the daughter of Filipino cinema movie demi-gods FPJ (the “King Philippine Movies”) and Susan Roces, two of the most beloved stars in the Philippines’ entertainment industry. In 2004, FPJ ran for president against then re-electionist President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and lost. Interesting bit of trivia, Binay served as FPJ’s campaign manager during that election.
(2) Beneficiary of Philippine-style necropolitics. Check!
Like current Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, Senator Grace Poe is in an excellent position to surf a wave of public sympathy straight into Malacanang. Her father’s death in 2004 is widely-believed to have been partially caused by the heartache related to his loss in the elections and, as such, there is an injustice card in her political circumstances that could be exploited in an election campaign.
(3) Perceived to be “humble” and “simple”. Check!
Photos showing Poe queuing up for and riding Manila’s infamously decrepit Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system went “viral” and bolster her persona as a true public servant. Filipinos are usually sympathetic to otherwise wealthy members of the Philippine elite being seen to be “one of them” and doing stuff that is normally reserved for people of less extravagant means.
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Suffice to say, Poe could be Philippine President because she can win an election.
But does the fact that one can also mean that one should? Indeed, the more important question to ask is why Poe should be president. What does she stand for? What is her platform? What is her vision for the Philippines? For now, the only answer Poe could provide to those questions is this: “Right now, I’m not considering any particular commitment except that I think that whatever the President has started, whoever will be the candidate, should be able to continue that…”
In short, Poe does not propose anything new.
To be fair, perhaps she has not made any brain space for these sorts of things because, as the papers report, she is still coy to the idea of her bum warming the top seat of the land. Also, again to be fair to Poe, Binay does not propose anything groundbreaking either; which raises another interesting question: On what bases would Filipinos be choosing between a Binay and Poe presidency?
With two horses now in the race, Filipinos are ready to play ball. There really is no point in holding one’s breath for an intelligent campaign platform to emerge from both camps. Both Binay and Poe are viable candidates precisely because their constituency lies mainly in the Philippines’ most impoverished voting demographic — the mighty “C-D” crowd. As such, the game will be traditional and unoriginal, and the debate surrounding it the usual droll and unintelligent drivel.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.