'Sayang' Poe: Grace and the INC
A friend told me that hope simply means disappointment after disappointment. I smirked at the thought as untrue, and yet, I cannot ignore the negative feeling I felt upon hearing Senator Grace Poe’s defense of Iglesia ni Cristo members who rallied against Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and inconvenienced needlessly the already overstressed Manila commuters in a horrible traffic jam.
What was she thinking? Why did she do that? I thought she’s a breath of fresh air in the muggy world of Philippine traditional politics polluted by unbridled opportunism and self-aggrandizement.
I was glad that she might consider running for the top position and I had high hopes for her as an alternative to Vice President Jejomar Binay. But she dashed my hopes. I could not believe what I just heard from her utterances regarding the INC’s protest. She sounded just like the guy that I don’t wish to be president!
Unfortunately, I am not alone in my disbelief – many of my friends too, both in social media and the academe. And the more she wiggles herself out of this controversy, the more she sinks. There is no other way to get out of this political quicksand. And why is that?
Her remarks represent the defining moment of the breadth of her political substance and style. By all indication, it exposed to me a failure of good sense and judgment. She’s no different from tradpols after all – her move in a crisis smacks of the traditional and business-as-usual approach to politics. If she wants it to appear that it’s all about defending the right to assembly, she is injudicious. If she wants it to appear that it’s all about respecting religious faith, she is misguided.
Both in political substance and style, there is no amount of spin that can set right her exposed deficiencies as a good fit or presidential material, since she is wiling to sacrifice the grievance of the few against the overwhelming force of an abusive church council, and if she is willing to forego the fear and anxiety of the persecuted to please self-serving church leaders.
And she came into this fray huffing and puffing for the sake of potentially securing the INC’s preferential bloc voting? Didn’t she realize that the protest was not about religious freedom or about respecting religious faith at all? Rather, it was a strawman move of the INC’s Sanggunian to hush-hush their alleged criminal acts from getting out of hand.
Didn’t she even realize that the aggrieved members were so scared for their lives that they filed an illegal detention case before the Department of Justice against the oppressive and clandestine INC governing church council?
I wish I didn’t have to say this but even without the controversy of her legal status, I now count her as one of the political opportunists beholden to a religious cult. More so, as a leader with no deeper sense of commitment to the principles and integrity of our institutions, particularly our legal institution.
Who is then left to lead us? Not Vice President Jejomar Binay. Damaged by almost a daily dose of exposés of corruption, his campaign is slowly crumbling under its own weight.
What about Secretary Mar Roxas? With both Grace and Jejomar slowly fading in the end, Mar will stand alone as a candidate to beat unless Mayor Rodrigo Duterte decides to run. Unfortunately, he is not running and he has no money to finance a national campaign.
Barring the negative effect of his allegedly detested wife Korina, Mar has an impregnable political capital of incumbency and kitty. I know he’s also been indiscriminately trying to pull in all groups of people and parties into his fold. Is it a good political strategy? Maybe it is. Maybe it is not. I am not so sure. I know in the last election he was in, he led against his opponent in the race until the finish line. Supporters dumped him in a hurry. I just hope that what his own party mate told me – “Hindi mananalo ‘yan (He won't win)” – will not become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If he doesn’t think this out carefully against a new emerging presidential opponent, it’ll be a classic case of Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare” all over again. – Rappler.com
Efren Padilla is a full-time professor at California State University, East Bay. His areas of specialization are urban sociology, urban planning, and social demography. During his quarter breaks, he provides pro bono planning consultancy to selected LGUs in the Philippines.