Anna Velas-Suarin

Shortlisting the Presidentiables

We have watched the “Halalan” presidentiables’ forum aired over ABS-CBN last night and here are my top three choices, my reasons for choosing them, and why the others did not even pass my ‘shortlisting.’ πŸ™‚

Let me first discuss my top three choices and why I think they deserve my vote.

1. Mr. Nick Perlas. He is my favorite because he has a strong platform anchored on a clear vision how to address corruption, environmental problems (such as climate change), and poverty (i.e. promoting domestic industries and agriculture). Among all the candidates, he seems to be the only one who understands structural problems and how to address them vis-a-vis poverty and inequity. More importantly, since he is not a “trapo”, I would assume that he will not be indebted to anyone nor be pushed into a situation when he would allow the growth (and even presence!) of private armies just so he can have the needed votes come election day. (Bato-bato sa langit, ang tamaan ay huwag magagalit.)

However, I also think that Mr. Nick Perlas’ main weakness is on communicating his views well. I am pretty sure he has great ideas (and track record to support the ideas) but he doesn’t seem to have the so-called “gift of gab” of say, Mr. Eddie Villanueva, or even, Sen. Dick Gordon. He has the tendency to go in circles or say too many ideas all at once instead of focusing on key ideas. He probably needs to learn how to speak more in “bullet points” particularly in public forums like that.

He also says “Po” or “Opo” too much to the detriment of the message he is trying to put forward. In situations like that, a clear delivery of message is more important particularly that he is running an alternative campaign. Lesser “Po” or “Opo” will not harm his candidacy. He needs those precious hours of media exposure in order for people to know him more. His lack in machinery may be compensated by adequate media coverage but in order to be an effective communicator, he should be clear and concise in his delivery.

One may say that a President does not need to be a good public speaker and that the most important part is to have the intelligence and the heart to govern with fairness and wisdom. True. But I also believe that communications make or break any campaign. You may be the best candidate but if you fail to deliver the reasons why people should vote you, then there lies the unfortunate irony. Sadly, we still live in a world that heavily relies on advertising, marketing campaigns, surveys and public opinion. Show the people the same products with the same price and they would likely buy the one whose endorser was clearer or wittier with his message (or maybe, cuter?).

Albeit the said ‘weaknesses’, Mr. Perlas is still the guy who tops my shortlist (at least, for now). I know he will not even win against an “Aquino” surname (unless a divine intervention happens between now and May 2010). That is another unfortunate side story. Nothing personal against Senator Aquino but I think even he himself will admit that his popularity is mainly because of his parents. He does not have the brilliance and solid platforms of Mr. Perlas or Mr. Villanueva. He does not have the political will and guts of Bayani Fernando. He does not have the solid track record of his father. Admittedly, he seems to be a nice and honest guy. But honesty is not the main requirement for sound leadership. Clearly, Mr. Perlas has the right mind and heart to enable him to lead this country towards genuine recovery but, unfortunately, he does not have the machinery, money and popularity to win an election that is mostly fueled by ‘mainstream’ ingredients: showbiz endorsements, TV ads, popular surnames, and of course, it does not hurt to have a sister /close kin who is seen on national TV every day. My unsolicited advice to Mr. Perlas? Run for a lower office such as a local executive (Mayor or Governor), or even as a Congressman, immerse himself in the ‘real’ world of Philippine politics, and then when the time is right and when the voters are really ‘awakened’ enough to understand the difference between a trapo and non-trapo, run for President.

My fearless prediction is that he will not win. I will definitely vote for him but sadly, the majority of the Filipinos will vote for Senators Aquino and Villar, and former President Estrada. But then again, miracles still happen, right? πŸ™‚

2. Mr. Eddie Villanueva. Among all the participants, I think that he is the best communicator. His ideas are clear and he can deliver his messages in a very organized manner. Like Mr. Perlas, he also has a strong platform and more importantly, it is based on the importance of spirituality and faith in God. I can only agree with him. I think that we need spiritual renewal and a leader who can motivate us towards this path is probably what this country needs right now. However, and perhaps, ironically, his being a Church leader also gives me some hesitation and this is probably my main reason why he is just No. 2 in my list. I cannot put the exact words to it but I would have some hesitation voting for a parish priest, pastor or evangelist to become a President. Nothing personal against them. It is just that I think that it is better if they remain in their main vocation and do their public service through the vows that they already made. I know that people should have the right to change their minds but then again, I would also be quite uncomfortable with the idea of a religious leader who suddenly craves for political power.

But then again, our state of the nation may already need some kind of ‘divine intervention’ so that we can truly prosper? Can a religious leader be the answer?

3. Senator Dick Gordon. I have no direct knowledge of the Senator so my thoughts here will be mostly based on the few things that I know about him and how he performed in the Halalan Forum. I liked his thoughts on ‘enabling the Filipinos to believe in themselves.’ Like him, I also do not believe in “dole-out” mentality. I kind of get uncomfortable when candidates say things like, “Para sa mahihirap” or something like that. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-poor. But you see, we should stop this culture that when people are poor, they must have more rights or more leeway. No, I don’t think so. We give equal rightsΒ  to all–whether rich or poor. (Please do visit my old post, “Circumstantial Culture” if you want to read more about this.)

The problem on poverty is not going to be solved by “taking care of the poor as if they are helpless babies.” Let us draw the line there. We should create jobs, we should make hospitalization more affordable, we should give free education up to high school (or even college if we can afford it), etc. but it is not the same as condoning squatting, allowing sidewalk vendors, and giving dole-out money (subsidies?) when electricity or rice prices go up. Let us stop acting as if we are the savior of the poor. We are not. We should address the root of the problems and not the symptoms. Let us empower the poor and not forever treat them as ‘helpless’ people who so badly needs our charity. Our upbringing definitely requires us to lend a helping hand to those in need but we should remember the old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

And so, I saw this kind of thinking in Sen. Gordon and yes, his running mate, MMDA Chair Bayani Fernando. They believe in hard labor. They believe in instilling discipline. They believe in decency and the rule of law. I think our country needs those things and much much more.

My only problem with Sen. Gordon is that he is not strong-willed enough. Sometimes I have doubts about his political will. To me, he is still a trapo. Well, maybe a better trapo, but still, he sometimes chooses to be quiet when going otherwise will inconvenience him or his party.

Oh, if only we can combine the strengths of these presidentiables and emerge with a candidate who has the wisdom and strong platform of Mr. Perlas, the spiritual grounding of Mr. Villanueva, the discipline and love for labor of Senator Gordon, and yes, the popularity of Senator Aquino. Ahhh, if only we can!

I hope this shortlist will help you as you ponder about our future as a nation. Let us vote wisely and not give up on this country.

Saludo pa rin ako sa Pinoy! Kaya natin ito!

Vote wisely. The future is in our hands.

This is not a paid blog.


  • shenbrood

    If someone like me can convince you and your husband so can others as well… it is the vision of new politics that will make it happen.

    Perlas has 40 years of public service and by emerging in “real politics” in will be defeating for he is advocating new politics. A political structure that will diminish the old and establish a new one.

    Panahon na! Ngayon na! Ito na ang PWERSA NG PAGBABAGO!

    Salamat po sa artikulong ito πŸ™‚

  • shiela

    dear Mei, i’m a nicanor perlas supporter myself. at this point i don’t let anything else cloud my vision. ‘m focused on an image of the new philippines with new politics and new leadership under mr. perlas. we are blessed with having an alternative candidate who has the competence and vision to turn things around. whatever nicky lacks in communicating his ideas to the people, supporters and volunteers should take it upon themselves (as i am doing) to take up. we can explain to the people, one by one, why we need a PEARL PRESIDENT. Join us in this, Mei!

  • Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

    Thanks, Dave and Shiela! Saludo ako sa inyo and thankful that Nick Perlas have you as supporters! My opinions remain but I admire him, too, and hope for a better Philippines! God bless!

  • shenbrood

    People can be inspired by the dedication and stand also of those who support their candidates. What is great is there is very little if no huge detrimental blockade to voting Nick as President.

    I am here at the Waging Peace Conference now and when I talk about him there was no contention everyone agrees with him. What is worrying is we are just blinded with the seeming spectrum of reality… but reality is not constant.

    If there is one thing constant that is CHANGE.

    Great work Mei… miss ko na kayo dyan.. sarap ng kape πŸ™‚

  • Mary Anne Velas-Suarin

    Thanks again, Dave, for your good service to this country! May your tribe increase! P.s. Come by anytime and the coffee will be served piping hot!

  • brainchild

    Nice blog! I’m a big Dick-BF fan(even it doesn’t sound nice hehe) I like the points that you gave out, especially on Mr. Perlas and Sen.Gordon. But to tell you honestly, I disagree on your 2nd pick. it is because Eddie Villanueva is wearing a morality mask, He does not practice what he preach. he tolerates his sons’ infidelities, power tripping and corruption(his son is a mayor of our town). And add to that, we do not feel his presence here in our town.
    Mabuhay ang Pilipino!

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