The one and only Vice
There are six serious aspirants for the second highest post in the land while there are only 4 for the top post.
Santiago, Binay, Poe and Roxas have all declared while Duterte is now showing a glimmer of interest. As of this writing, PDP Laban has picked Duterte as its standard-bearer. The stage-managed “Digong clamor” is fizzling out. And the script is getting tiresome. The public wants to know: Are you in or out?
The job of the vice president is disdainfully described as essentially ribbon cutting, and VIP-guesting at weddings and funerals. The position is likened to a spare tire, the 1st runner-up in a beauty pageant, gentleman/lady-in-waiting – yet it’s hotly contested. What is going on?
Let’s scrutinize the vice-presidential field:
Chiz Escudero: The current front runner has become a controversy-magnet since he broke ties with NPC and his former benefactor Danding Cojuangco in 2009, supposedly due to campaign funds.
He has since reportedly found another “angel” in Roberto Ongpin, Chairman and CEO of Alphaland who was implicated in the Boy Scouts’ exposé of VP Binay’s alleged anomalies. Balesin Island Club is the flagship project of Alphaland. It was the posh venue of the much-publicized wedding of Chiz and Heart.
The parents of actress Heart Evangelista did not spare their punches. They called Chiz a drunk, an opportunist, a Jekyll and Hyde among others. Thankfully that fence seems to be slowly mending.
Bongbong Marcos: The son of dictator Ferdinand Marcos is moist-eyed for the vice presidency but not for the suffering of the Martial Law victims.
FIND (Families of victims of Involuntary Disappearance) condemned Bongbong for repudiating the Martial Law carnage. They expressed their wrath in their statement "Today, these poignant memories are mocked and dishonored by Bongbong who insists that the best administration was that of his father as he glosses over the existence of some 100,000 victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime."
There are also nebulous claims of economic progress during the 21-year Marcos reign. But the record shows that when Marcos started his extended tenancy, the Philippines was 2nd only to Japan. By the time he stepped down, the country was known as the “Sick Man of Asia.”
The scariest part is his mother Imelda makes no bones about craving a Bongbong presidency. The specter of a possible second Marcos tyranny sends jitters down the spine.
Alan Cayetano: His Senate term does not end until 2019, but he has set his sights on the vice presidency in 2016. The one thing he cannot be faulted for is lack of ambition.
In fact it seems like the entire family is into politics. There has been a Cayetano in Congress since 1998, counting 21 years when Alan’s term ends. His father Renato was Senator from 1998-2003, followed by Pia ( 2004- 2016) and Alan (2007-2019).
Both Alan (1998-2007) and his wife Lani (2007-2010) became representatives of Taguig, Pateros. The younger brother Lino is currently the congressman of the 2nd district of Taguig, while Lani serves as Taguig Mayor. His lesser-known older brother Ren was a former Muntinlupa councilor. So it’s not an exaggeration to say that indeed politics is a family business.
Gringo Honasan, Sonny Trillanes: Their claim to fame is launching botched coup attempts. Honasan was poster boy of the coup against dictator Ferdinand Marcos instigated by Juan Ponce Enrile and Fidel Ramos. The coup bug must have bitten Honasan because he launched at least 7 more failed coup attempts during Cory Aquino’s 6-year term. His almost canine devotion to his patron and mentor JPE is well-established. Enrile’s recent endorsement of Bongbong for VP raised a few eyebrows but by now no one expects principled consistency from trapos.
Honasan initially refused the Bi-hon offer, but was eventually persuaded, like a good “soldier," as VP Binay said.
Trillanes, on the other hand, tried to end Gloria Arroyo’s 9-year reign citing the extreme corruption of her government. Filipinos voted him into the Senate in support of his protest against GMA. Poe has endorsed Trillanes. Is he an alternate VP to Chiz?
Leni Robredo: She’s the one who didn’t raise her hand for the job. The one who didn’t desire and connive to run as VP. The one who prayed for guidance, consulted her constituents, and waited until her children gave their blessings. The one who genuinely wants to serve the people as she had been doing all these years.
The widow of former DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, the icon of good governance, Leni was already in the nation’s service long before the political spotlight shone on her.
As a lawyer in the Public Attorney’s Office, she gave free legal assistance to the poor. She was deeply immersed in organizing fisher folk, farmers, urban poor, women and youth sectors, persons with disability and Indigenous peoples. She has championed and empowered women and youth – all without fanfare.
Leni Robredo believes that real progress can only happen if every Filipino, especially the voiceless at the fringe of society, lives with dignity and rises above abject poverty. She has dedicated herself to the ordinary Filipino. In her own words – sa mga naka-tsinelas, nasa labas, nasa ibaba at nasa laylayan ng lipunan.
The reason she is so credible, is because she walks the talk. And rides the bus to be with her constituents every weekend. Goes on habal-habal scouring the farthest barangays to find out how she can improve their lot. She believes that leaders must empathize and experience the pain of the underprivileged in order to serve better. She’s not power-hungry and lives by her husband’s mantra that public service is a privilege. She’s got my vote.
There’s one question left unanswered. Why is there so much interest in the VP post?
Another description of the vice presidency is that it could be the “launch pad” to the presidency. The VP post is at a striking distance to the top office that they are really slavering for. And this is probably the real appeal for ruthless aspirants.
Among many vices, there’s only one virtue. – Rappler.com
(Yoly Ong is one of the advisers of the communications team of Leni Robredo.)