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April 11, 2009

Comments

Jose Marcelo

Among Ed will surprise us all!

Carla

I dunno. Sure, he's honest and incorruptible, but he's a priest. Has Philippine democracy progressed so little in the last 2 decades that it cannot produce a moral, rational, competent and inspiring candidate who is not part of an institution that also oppresses the country?

Don't answer that.

gail

I'm all for it -- honest and incorruptible. Yes, unfortunately he's a priest but if he does inspire people to become more involved and more vigilant, and if he does show people there's another way, and starts to prove that "new politics" works (and blows all the trapos away in terms of achievements)then maybe that's his path, and priesthood was just a way to get there.

Hopeful in Cebu,
Gail

Mike Arroyo

He won't change jack-shit. Remember Cory, the moral political-virgin? She couldn't change nothing.

If you go by the microcosm that is Pampanga today, where the mayors and governors refuse to cooperate with him, I foresee a Panlilio presidency would be like Indonesia's Abdurrahman Wahid: popular (or populist), but ultimately futile.

torn

Carla -- Ha, ha -- you sound so British sometimes ("I dunno"). I think we take what we can get, right? If someone comes up with a good candidate who reflects my values perfectly I’ll pick him or her. But that’s just not going to happen. Although he is a priest and I am an atheist, Panilio seems miles better than the rest—also more in accord with Filipinos than my ideal would be.

Gail -- Agree completely, especially "maybe that's his path, and priesthood was just a way to get there."

Mike – You might be right, but at least with Cory and Panlilio we get a semblance of hope—how optimistic can you get about a Noli de Castro or Manny Villar presidency?

Mike Arroyo

He doesn't have a party to back him. He'll create one, and none of his party mates will get elected in Congress or Senate because the electorate who they 'coz they won't have name recognition (despite being moral do-gooders).

It will result in him not getting any majority votes in the legislature during his term. Then rainbow opposition will impeach him during his first or second term (reason: impeach Panlilio to separate church and state).

Presidential candidates never contemplate how important it is having a legislative majority. They should take note from GMA and Ramos presidency.

Any reform agenda will need to be written in law form first. A plan to eradicate graft and corruption? Must be written into law. Build more roads and bridges? Must be written into law. Balance the budget? Must be written into law.

Many so-called "reform" politicians never get far because they don't have a well-entrenched legislative majority. They don't have a legislative majority because they don't have a well-entrenched party. They don't have a well-entrenched, national party because they have no ideology backing that party. And they have no ideology because they absolutely have no idea on how to reform this country.

Sili

Why is everyone saying Among Ed/Si Grace? Baliktad, diba? Why not Si Grace/Among Ed? Then we get all the non-trapo do-gooderness without so deeply blurring the line between church and state. Also it seems si Grace is better at coalition building and getting things done while still in no way being a trapo.

Carla

Torn, you're right. Elections are always contests, one picks from among imperfect choices.

I'm not after a perfect candidate (no such creature) but I think there should be non-negotiables. It's not even that I'm agnostic that I object to priests being in government--it's my belief in the idea of civilian leadership in a democratic state.

I think even just symbollically--competence and integrity aside--it would retard Philippine politics so much to have a priest contesting that highest office and worse, winning it. Then there are the practicalities. Surely he's also a subject of the Vatican, a sovereign state. So will he follow Papal edicts? That spells the death of any rational population control policy, then.

I would think that after all the damage the church and the military have wrought on the Philippines, anyone from both establishments would be laughed out of politics. But no. Apart from Fr. Ed, I hear Gen. Danny Lim's name being touted about for political office. (Of course Sen. Trillanes got there ahead of him.) They may be reformers in their own right but they can't be leaders and representatives of a democracy because of the oppressive institutions they have served.

But who else is there? That's where I despair. Maybe I won't vote at all.

Sili, oo nga. Why not Grace Padaca?

Torn, I'll be British when I finally say "toMAHto". Which is never. :)

jessie

Panlilio will become the Raul Roco of the 2010 elections.

jessie

"I would think that after all the damage the church and the military have wrought on the Philippines, anyone from both establishments would be laughed out of politics.

Posted by: Carla | April 17, 2009 at 12:39 PM"

Um, excuse me, ever heard of Fidel Ramos? Only the best Philippine president of the last 20 years? He was from a military background.

Carla

Jessie,

Was FVR still a general when he ran for office?

Was he the best Philippine president of the last 20 years? I'm not sure, but that's another debate.

Former military men who are now presidents:
Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin (not a soldier per se but part of the intelligence apparatus as KGB chief in Germany).

Violence is a dificult habit to shed. So is religion.

Carlo Ople

Appreciate the link.

I stand by on my position that Among Ed should focus on Pampanga. He has so many problems there right now and a lot of the people there actually don't like him.

Before he even dreams of taking on the challenge of being Chief Executive of more than 7000 islands, he should make sure things are okay first with his province.

Bruce in Iloilo

This just points to a weakness in the current electoral process -- there is no primary system.

It took centuries of elections (1600s to 1900s), until the Progressive Era, for the US to adopt primaries and then until the 1970s for the presidential primary system to take full force. That is why outsiders and reformers like Carter, Reagan, and Obama can run and win the US presidency. Obama started in even a weaker position than Among Ed.

Or if not an American-style, grass-roots primary system, at least a French-style run-off system. Otherwise people will never vote for the reformer because they will be "throwing their vote away", and they would be.

Bruce in Iloilo

Are generals always bad? Former US Generals who have become president include George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Dwight Eisenhower and U.S. Grant -- 2 great, 1 better than average and another not a bad guy but corrupt friends.

torn

Thanks to everyone for your good comments.

Carla -- You've persuaded me. I agree; there would be far too many negatives associated with a priest, or former priest, if that is what he is to become, in Malacanang.

Mike -- I also agree with what you say about the need to build up support in the legslature (though I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing that the Pampangan mayors are against Panlilio -- in fact I would argue that if he is not attracting opposition from entrenched interests he can't really be a reforming governor).

To be effective,a reform-minded president would have to compromise to some extent wih the "old system" epitomised by by the congressmen grown fat on years of pork. It is true that Gloria did this, but at the expense of putting in place any meaningful program (what achievements will she leave behind her when she finally goes)? So, as in any political system, a would-be reform president would have to be clear about which aspects of his/her program could be sacrificed and which could not. Would Panlilio be able to strike this balance? I don't know -- perhaps (he has proved quite skillful at managing PR), perhaps not -- which brings us back to Carlo's point that we haven't really seen enough of what Among Ed can do in Pampanga.

Sili and Carla -- Sure, Grace could be put up but I don't think she would have a chance. The thing about Panlilio is that the very aspects of his candidacy that make liberals uneasy would be seen as positive attributes by many in the electorate. It is the perceived moral force derived from his relious associations that that would make Panlilio a formidable candidate -- Grace doesn't have that (unfortunately, because I think she is a wonderful person).

As for other candidates, Jesse Robredo, mayor of Naga City, is a name often bruited about, but, like Grace, I'm not sure he has has enough of a national profile (or organization).

That brings me back to one of the main points in the original post: there is only a year to go. If there is to be a reform candidate, whether Panlilio, Padaca, Robredo, or someone else, it may already be too late for them to mount an effective campaign.

As for the military, I'm definitely with Carla on that one -- we have more than enough military men messing up public life here as it is.

Bruce -- I think you raise an important and disquieting point. The fact is that with four or possibly five strong candidates in the field the winner in 2010 is not going to get anywhere near a national majority, which will raise all the questions about legitimacy that have hounded the Arroyo administration being repeated after the result. A primry system ould help to whittle down the field I agree, but personally I quite like the large number of candidates in Philippine elections. At least you have the illusion of choice -- unlike in the UK where for the last 12 years voters have been offered a "choice" between two versions of the conservative party.

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If you go by the microcosm that is Pampanga today, where the mayors and governors refuse to cooperate with him, I foresee a Panlilio presidency would be like Indonesia's Abdurrahman Wahid: popular (or populist), but ultimately futile.

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