Published on February 11, 2014.
It should have come as no surprise that, as he was scrambling up the ladder of worldwide fame with his thrilling boxing style, Manny Pacquiao also made up his mind to run for political office. He famously failed on his first try, when tiny Darlene Antonino-Custodio bested him in the congressional race to represent General Santos City, in 2007. But he is now on his second term as lawmaker, representing the province of Sarangani.
No surprise, because Pacquiao has a fighter’s killer instinct, and in creating his own political base (his wife is now also vice governor of the province) he was reaching for the jugular. In his view (I am hazarding a guess), the real source of staying power in Philippine society is not wealth, but political clout. Continue reading
A new lease on political relevance. Published on October 28, 2013.
There are various shades of red in the political spectrum, but for the sake of argument I will adopt the convention in use in many newsrooms and identify the Philippine Left as those associated with the National Democratic Front (NDF). These political forces include some of the most successful party-list groups in our history, such as Bayan Muna.
Their success is apposite, because it explains two telling political developments in the last decade. At the same time, their indisputable mastery of the parliamentary arena, or at least of the processes of entry into that arena, obscured the specter of irrelevance that haunted the Left during the first three years of the Aquino administration. The pork barrel scandal, however, has altered the political landscape dramatically.
The argument, in other words, is that the pork barrel scandal has given the Left a new lease—if not exactly a new purpose—on life.
Some readers misunderstood this column as a concatenation of endorsements, less than a week before the election. My purpose, however, was to do as I did the week before the 2010 vote, and come clean with my choices. Published on May 7, 2013.
That line is from “The American President,” a political romance starring Michael Douglas which the incumbent American president recently described (for comedic effect, but not inaccurately) as “Aaron Sorkin’s liberal fantasy.”
The quote comes from a climactic speech, which to my mind best expresses the view that it is personal character—not platform or policy or ideology—that matters most in politics. (I’m tempted to rank this speech right up there with Charlie Chaplin’s, at the end of “The Great Dictator,” if only because it is less abstract, more grounded.)
A reading that proved to be erroneous, at least in terms of actual election results. Published on April 23, 2013.
The results of the April 13-15 Social Weather Stations survey are in, and for the first time two nonreelectionist candidates for the Senate have broken into the Top 4. The number of survey respondents who said they would vote for Nancy Binay and Cynthia Villar rose from 47 percent in March to 49 percent in April, enough for them to tie for joint 3rd-4th place.
But I would guess that the real story from the April results, from the point of view of the campaigns themselves, is the sharp declines in voter support for the ex-soldiers running for reelection, Antonio Trillanes IV and Gringo Honasan.
(Caveat emptor: As I have done in previous columns, I equate the voter preference of the respondents participating in these surveys with voter support, and assume that these numbers will translate, more or less directly, into actual votes. More qualifications need to be made, but that is the gist of it.)