Alan Who? And Leni’s Dilemma

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The Vice Presidential debate last Sunday has been the talk of the town for the past couple of days, eclipsing even the last fight of Pacquiao. People have generally praised CNN Philippines and Inquirer for moderating a good debate. It was probably as good as it can get, even though I had the feeling I was watching a beauty contest, complete with foreign judges asking the questions (thanks John Mangun of the Business Mirror for completing the picture).

The one line synopsis: They may as well have touted this as Cayetano vs. Marcos. All the other candidates seemed to get less airtime and just blended into the wallpaper.

Biggest Winner: Alan Cayetano – In one minute, this young man almost convinced me who I should vote for for VP and President. I never thought twice about him before, but after his performance at the Vice Presidential debates I am left wondering how close we often get to dismissing good options just because of prior prejudices.

All the Vice Presidential bets have been pretty much ignored by the press, except for Marcos (because of his controversial run) and Robredo because of the huge machinery and administration support.

We have all seen the Duterte phenomenon, the packed rallies, the grassroots support. But I have never before been exposed to Cayetano. Previously relegated as an underdog with little hope of ousting Marcos or Escudero for the lead, Cayetano just announced to everyone that he is still a viable choice.

Was it all play-acting? Was it the savvy manueverings of a trained politician? Perhaps. Attacking the leader in the polls (BBM) is a proven strategy if you have been a laggard. Citing specific stories of individuals is another effective strategy used by Obama, Clinton, and most other US political candidates to get points across. Cayetano used the technique in his opening statement to great effect: a woman OFW who lost her job due to being detained by tanim bala; a young girl and her mother in the Kidapawan rally; a waiter whose commute time doubled to 3 hours due to the worsened traffic and public transport situation.

Cayetano gave Filipinos the bombast they look for in their public figures. They want a leader with fire in the belly. From the perspective of most mileage gained from the debates, Cayetano was the clear winner as I scored it.

Biggest Loser: Leni Robredo – Speaking of fire in the belly, what is up with Leni Robredo? I know she is the remaining hope of the Daang Matuwid crowd as many have given up on Mar. It is hard to put a Robredo down, sainted husband and all. But I just don’t see it. Where is the fire? For that matter, where is the spark?

If I interview a job candidate and ask what their plan is for the next 5 years, I want to see ambition. If they are ambitious I know they will work hard for me. All the VP candidates want to be President except for Gringo and Leni. Leni’s response was basically saying I’m not really interested in all that stuff, I just want to help poor people. And you know she is telling the truth. This makes me question whether she thinks she is too good for this job and is just applying for other reasons. One gets the feeling she doesn’t understand power or politics.

Given a choice of cabinet posts, Robredo says she wants to be anti-poverty czar. It makes me wonder why she just doesn’t go work in Gawad Kalinga, or a similar NGO. What about the economy, Leni? What about jobs? What about China?

She simply does not project as a leader. I have spoken to people of her batch in UP and they do not even remember her. She was not active in the student government or any political organization. Granted she had to cope with being a wife and mother, but announcing that she had to retake the bar before passing also does not inspire confidence. Instead, Leni projects as a well-meaning, NGO-type widow and housewife. A good person and patriot but can she swim with the sharks? Unfortunately, the impression I get from her debate performance says otherwise.

To be fair, Robredo is only the biggest loser because of the magnitude of the wasted opportunity. Many were considering her due to her non-trapo image. (Escudero also was a loser in the debates owing to his odd speaking cadence and voice which became the butt of many social media jokes. But how many votes did he lose? The same people making fun were not going to vote for him anyway.)

Worse, the mileage she got from playing the anti-Marcos crowd earlier prior to the debates just faded as Cayetano stole the show and championed that crowd.

A note on Bongbong Marcos – One must always strive for objectivity when discussing the controversial young Marcos. Objectively, he handled himself well. He was able to parry hecklers in the crowd, the attacks from the other candidates, and was able to get in a few zingers of his own. His best soundbite was “this administration will use anything they have against me, because I am a Marcos and the President is an Aquino”. Mar Roxas must have cringed from wherever he was watching. BBM approached it all like he was having fun, smiling and rebutting, when hotter tempers (again, Roxas) would have lost it. The more Marcos is attacked by this admnistration, the more he gains in strength and stature. And he knows it. His statement about being a unifying figure that will focus on the future, rather than the past, was a solid uppercut punch to the polarizing plexus of Malacanang.

A postscript note for my dear friend Pia Hontiveros, I know it is hard to resist taking a dig at BBM but that crack about “relax, we are not going to talk about corruption…” was not very professional. Other than that you and Pinky did a good job. Granted the bar was really set low.

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22 Comments on “Alan Who? And Leni’s Dilemma”

  1. I don’t trust Alan. He was bad mouthing Noynoy before 2010 then praising the same guy during the LP 2013 campaign (attributing to Noynoy the 6.6% GDP and PH being tiger of the WORLD). Disgusting.

    please watch below:

  2. Napoles says she gave Cayetano money.

    How about that? Cayetano looks like a nerd who has a big mouth. In school he’d be beaten up after class.

    My impression of him…. another asshole with nothing to offer, but attacks on Bongbong. Talk about the issues and solutions… non existent.

    1. Yes but the nerd has brains. What caught my attention was Cayetano’s recognition that what has been lacking is political will. Without that no plan or platform ever gets off the ground. If you believe Napoles, then there’s only Leni to vote for. I personally can’t — for reasons previously mentioned.

      1. Marcos is my man. He is a man with a plan. He has a good platform. He can take care of the economy.

        Meanwhile all Cayetano did was repeat what we already heard from Roddy. By the way, Roddy is my choice as well. Let him take care of peace and order and Marcos will focus on the economy and the environment.

  3. To be fair.
    Cayetano was at least 60% of the time promoting Duterte. Duterte made the right choice. Lol. And honestly, he is not very likeable, he feels sickening even. Good strategy but the way he sounded so desperate to connect an attack, attacking anyone attackable was tiring. Just my opinion, but I can also see why you think he is the biggest winner since he made the most of it.
    At least Leni spoke different words from Roxas(who feels like a real life asshole, just an observation), she did feel lackluster and all but I liked how she isn’t as super keen in attacking Marcos. Unlike Roxas and Aquino who attacks and attacks and attacks. Her lack of many attacks is a breath of fresh air. And she does feel good-willed and she has a great educational background unlike Aquino.
    Marcos has expressed great control of self, he speaks so much truth despite somewhat trying to dodge the Martial Law allegations.
    And let us face it, if someone who does not have the Marcos family name but has BBMs qualities? I know the surveys would be at least 50% in favor of that person.

    And lastly, the biggest loser was Escudero. It almost felt as if he is 100% following a script as be barely spoke when not asked. He made the least of his time excluding Honasan who took at most 30s to get an answer off. Lol.

    1. People seem to want the bombs to fly at these debates. It’s the same in other countries. The primal urge to see who can “beat up” who? So, no the aggressive tone didnt bother me. (Checkout the latest Democratic debates between Sanders and Clinton on youtube). The main purpose of the VP at these debates is to propr themselves up. But close secondary goal is to make their running mate shine. Cayetano was the only one effective in that department. IMHO.

      1. But the problem is that he was not able to beat anyone imo.
        Again, I can see the good you saw in his efforts. We always tend to be more supportive of the ones we want to vote for anyway. Not that I can vote for these coming elections.
        I saw only a small segment of that debate, again I can see some similarities to what Cayetano did. But he was the only one playing that game, it wasn’t fun since we never saw how he would handle being attacked. Unlike the democratic candidates digging information and using statements and actions done long ago against the credibility of the other, there was no constant back and forth.

  4. Of course, Alan is bright. He is a magna cum laude. But I guess, Charles, you have not been watching him all through these years. Sonamagan, I have never seen this guy NOT in a fight with somebody or someone, and I doubt he has the skills to unify people, so he cannot be a good VP or Prez. He has a polarizing character.

    Did you know that BBM did not wait, he immediately approached Alan after the debate to shake hands and exchange pleasantries. Now, that is sportsmanship, and it is unifying.

    I must say though that Alan has great skills in cross examining people. So, I thought he might as well stay in the investigating committees of the Senate. Or, if he wants to make lots of money, he might want to be a litigator in the private sector.

    But of course the power of a VP or a Prez will always be magnet for politicians.

    1. I’ve seen him at senate hearings and you are right he has the demeanor of a prosecutor. I did read about BBM coming over to shake hands. What goes on before, during, and after these things have proven quite revealing.

    2. Just to respond to your comment that BBM approached Allan for pleasantries. The following day he was interviewed by inquirer for 1 hour. In that he did mentioned that BBM approached him and told him “It’s not going to work of what your doing” it’s not pleasantries or sportsmanship. BBM is defending himself against Cayetano.

  5. The Marcos wealth will always be an vote getting issue whoever is that politician desperate to get votes. It will always be a convenient diversionary tool to hide one’s incompetence or lack of vision or doable platforms.

  6. Cayetano voted for the impeachment of CJ Corona, in exchange for Pork Barrel Bribery. Debates are nothing. They are just side shows. What I am looking for are: the track records; what agendas Cayetano implemented to solve our problems; what are his platforms to better things in our country. Many issues to be dealt with…

    I believe that Cayetano is one of the Political Opportunists, who prospered, on whoever is in power. A TRAPO.

    I am looking for a Vice President, who can assume the duties of a President in any event. Integrity and Honesty are the two factors, I am very much interested. Not double talking TRAPOS…

    1. Who among them is not a trapo? Leni would have been the closest to one, but she allied herself with the LP and has been distributing sacks of government rice and farming equipment donated by the government (which our taxes paid for). Last seen playing with jueteng lords.

      1. At least, A TRAPO, that I can live with…a good tract record; vision for the country; integrity and honesty; programs for the solutions of our country’s problems; loyalty to the Filipino voters, not to his/her party, or whoever is in power. Cayetano is a political opportunist…his vote in exchange of Pork Barrel to impeach CJ Corona, shows, what kind of a politician he is…

  7. Leadership is the other side of the coin of loneliness, and he who is a leader must always act alone. And acting alone, accept everything alone.

    1. That trial seems to have gone nowhere. Even human rights watchers have now become concerned that GMA is being detained for no reason. If the prosecution and judge were dull enough (or corrupt enough) to not be able to make a case stick, then you have no choice but to free the accused,no? Otherwise you are violating human rights.

      1. I will never vote for him until he proves that his “kahon kahong ebidensya” is true.

        He is basically lying in your face to get what he wants.

  8. Whatever ..I still vote for Leni, I don’t think she’s a loser she’s rising up in the last survey!Leni for the win!

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