A wider choice for Veep in 2016 (Philippine Star)

It truly has begun. As much as I am remiss to continue on the topic of elections week in and week out, we can’t deny that it is one of the things that remains a hot topic for conversation. No matter whom you ask or where you turn, you hear election talk, predictions, disappoints, hopes, and even fears. Our countrymen seem to understand that this particular election really has the power to greatly change the course of our country’s history. Now whether or not that change is going to be for the better or for the worse, we will have to wait and see.

We all know we are at a breaking point, with corruption truly coming out in wave after wave of revelations these past couple of years. We are all desperate for a change. So despite not wanting to seem as if I have a one-track mind, I can’t help but discuss the elections and the potential candidates almost on a daily basis. The reason is, whoever makes it into office in 2016 will affect us all on a daily basis in the future. Will these new leaders make things better? Will they continue the existing programs that are doing well and expand upon them? Or will they, as history has shown, come in with their own agendas and discontinue programs that are working in lieu of starting new ones just so they can slap their own names on them?

I truly hope this is not going to be the case. But you can never tell with Philippine politics. Now that the election talk is going full force and the floodgates have been opened, everyone is carefully and meticulously eyeing their choices. I know many are keen on keeping up “Daang Matuwid” and for the sake of truly eradicating corruption in the country (or at least making bigger strides), I hope this comes true. However, that will depend greatly on whom we elect into office.

We know that the President has already appointed Mar Roxas as his successor, and as I mentioned last week, I believe he can do a really great job if given the chance. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to convince the wider population of this, not to mention the masses many of who still believe or cling to the thought of a Binay or even Erap presidency. Whenever I read about this I always find out it’s usually because they say that corruption will always be present, but at least Binay and Erap share their wealth with the people. This is ludicrous. If you are going to look very closely, corruption allegations notwithstanding, the only wealth being “shared” with the people is the money that came from the people in the first place.

I hope that our voters can be more discerning this time around and not just simply vote for whoever pays them or gives them freebies. It’s important that this time we make an investment in the country. And that not only goes for the president but for the vice president as well. Much like the presidential candidate speculation in past months, there is also a lot of talk and rumors about who the VP candidates will be. There are no clear frontrunners here because it seems as if anyone who wants to run refuses to try for VP and just sets their sights on the presidency instead.

One such person is Senator Grace Poe who has, thus far, denied all offers to run as Vice President due to her own presidential bid (still to be confirmed). Personally, I think Senator Grace Poe could be a good leader, but I also believe she is lacking in vital experience that will help her make the tough choices required of running a country. I do not doubt her leadership skills, her honesty, or her passion for the Philippines. I do, however, doubt her timing. And despite her climbing in the polls, I don’t know if it will be enough to get her to Malacanang. I am actually curious to see where she stands in the next survey results.

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Plus, should she run with her best friend Senator Chiz Escudero, I think that he will drag her down like an anchor on a ship. As I mentioned and have written in many previous columns, there are no real friends in politics, only ‘user friends’. I think that Sen. Poe should reconsider her VP selection. I recall in the previous election, many thought Mar Roxas’ VP spot was in the bag until Escudero promoted the ‘NoyBi’ tandem. I think that ultimately Sen. Escudero’s goal is the presidency itself. It will be interesting to see how he will position himself at this point with that goal in mind.

As for us, the voters, it’s important to look beyond what he see on the exterior and put our candidates through the loop when it comes to scrutinizing them and their plans for the Philippines. Far be it from me to say that there is any one candidate that is perfect after all, we are all human with human flaws but I just hope that Filipinos will not do what they have done in the past and just choose a candidate who they know to be corrupt, because he/she is the lesser available evil. I believe it’s still very possible for our country to turn it around and start new.

And speaking of being discerning and doing due diligence when it comes to getting to know our candidates, I have to say that I am glad that the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has categorically stated that they will not be endorsing any particular candidate and will adopt a hands-off policy when it comes to the upcoming elections. It comes down to separation of church and state, a concept that is already quite blurry in the country. We all know that the church and the government have butted heads several times over policies, laws, and legislation. While this can’t be avoided in our largely Catholic country, it’s good the CBCP understands the importance of them not getting involved in election proceedings.

The only thing the CBCP did say was to remind voters to be careful and conscientious when choosing their leaders. I second that notion. I can’t help but feel that we are being much more time this election to think things through. We need to make the most out of the time we have and learn all we can so we can make educated and informed choices. Before we know it we’ll all be trekking to the election center and making our voice be heard.