A View from New York
By Mona Lunot-Kuker
The first debate seems dull, if not for Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s sense of humor and the surprising eloquence of Sen. Grace Poe.
Poe is able to defend herself well, despite being the less experienced among the presidentiables. It’s totally impressive. She spiked the ball back to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas with flying colors, when he questioned her credibility and judgment if she became President.
Her response, “long experience in the government is not an assurance of proficiency” is so something that Mar Roxas did not quiet expect.
Sen. Miriam Santiago is calm but still the same sharp-minded woman that she is while catching her breath in between her lines.
The ongoing “romance” between her and Mayor Duterte is working well. The fierce Senator praises Duterte, saying that he is the only candidate who did a good job in the government service among all the candidates.
But Duterte’s previous statement is alarming. He will allow the late Pres. Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. The deposed dictator is the father of Santiago’s vice presidential running mate, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Duterte said that the Filipinos should let go and forget the atrocities and crimes of the Marcoses to the Filipino people. We don’t know how the voters can accept this despicable betrayal, especially the victims and those who suffered abuses of the Marcos dictatorship.
Many topics were discussed in the first debate. But I noticed the important topics that hadn’t been raised which should be, like the safety and welfare of the marginalized overseas workers, and local ordinary workers.
Duterte is a mixed bag which brings confusion and contradiction. He threatened to kill unionists if they rally under his command.
Someone should advice him that the country’s populace is mainly composed of exploited workers, who barely survive on their slave wages. And a union is important to protect their rights as workers.
Duterte’s plan of extra judicial killings is chilly and does not promote peace and justice in the country.
Mar Roxas swears to continue the “Tuwid Na Daan” of President Aquino. He hasn’t done anything really impressive to protect the interests the workers locally and abroad. It is tiring how he bragged about having established the call center industry.
It is not all because of him. We understand that the Philippines is the best location to do this business, since English is our second language, and cheap labor is irresistible for greedy foreign businesses.
His claim that the present administration did a great job in governance was a lie. It was an insult to those who know how heinous crime rate shoot up and rehabilitating the environment and people after super typhoon Yolanda failed. Extreme poverty remains visible everywhere in the country.
Meanwhile, seeing Vice President Jejomar Binay running for President, despite corruption charges against him is an indication of the Aquino government’s whimpiness and inability to enforce the law.
The question on how Presidential candidates can help fishermen is important. Some promised funds to help them. But they all forgot to highlight the importance of the ocean and rivers preservation for sustainable living.
The fishermen’s catch are reduced dramatically in the last few decades because of unabated plunder of resources.
The funds they promised for them will serve only as bait or BandAid to cover to the infected wound.
The presidentiables sweet talk all the time. But there is no guarantee of safety against exploitation and abuses. Nothing much has changed. It’s always the same story.
The zarzuela of Philippine politics is going on. I hope all voters will choose carefully who will genuinely promote the interest of the poor, someone who is truly devoted to eradicate poverty and crimes from top to bottom.
(The featured photo is a town hall meeting of Filipino communities in the East coast of the US at the Philippine Consulate. The 2nd General Assembly of Fil-Am Communities tackled among many issues the 2016 Philippine elections. Photo by Troi Santos)