Mr. President, please let Roxas choose his running mate

By Frank Wenceslao

BEFORE proceeding to my main topic I wish to say it doesn’t make sense for President Aquino to choose Mar Roxas the LP standard bearer and court Grace Poe to run as his VP when this should be completely left to Mar who may have a different choice. Poe’s could convert her popularity into votes for her but it isn’t historically validated she could do it also for Mar if she were his VP running mate. Doesn’t the President realize he’s blowing up Poe’s ego that she might demand a coronation and not just a nomination?

On the other hand, the President and Mar should be careful with Poe’s admitted desire to run for President with Chiz Escudero as her running mate. Mr. President, please give Mar a free hand in the choice of his running mate so you won’t be blamed one way or the other.

Actually, my main topic concerns Rigoberto “Bobi” Tiglao’s integrity and objectivity I never doubted since his days with the Business Day, the BusinessWorld’s forerunner, and I was the head of the Philippine Export Council in 1979-81. I’m sure now that Tiglao’s with the Manila Times, he’d make my defense of Roxas against his and other criticisms as wide-ranging and objectively as possible.

Tiglao asked how I could think Roxas should be president when he couldn’t even fix the MRT 3 and while he’s the chair of the National Police Commission, the crime rate has worsened. Fixing MRT 3 is the responsibility of the maintenance people and like an old car that has reached the end of usefulness, anyone to expect that Roxas could fix MRT 3 is heckling him.

That’s not to say Tiglao must be joking with such criticisms of Roxas but they’re surely lacking historical basis. For instance, Winston Churchill said that democracy is the worst type of government if only there’s something else better.

Oftentimes the lesser of two evils is preferable, so I returned Tiglao’s question who does he think better than Mar with his Wharton education, membership in the House and the Senate, and three different Cabinet posts?

Tiglao has shown bias against Roxas probably being in favor of another presidential aspirant and with due respect to him I dug into my “bag” of historical perspectives such as Edmund Burke’s immortal words, “Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other.”

Any human being of an average mind exposed to government problems like Roxas has encountered over the years would’ve learned at the very least how to react to those problems and is thus better prepared to tackle similar or bigger problems than VP Jojo Binay, Grace Poe, Chiz Escudero and others pretending to have what it takes to govern a nation full of “me-first” leaders with blown-up egos but too little of what they really know or have been exposed to as examples less difficult than those Roxas has tackled in the past.

Besides, Roxas is almost a shy-type less prone to show “a devil may care” attitude to address difficult situations or hasn’t allowed himself an ultimate test by dilly-dallying in tackling a problem before reacting up to a point of its becoming a crisis. In fact, psychologists agree that a man’s bravery may stay hidden until the time comes his mind is triggered by a stimulus to act boldly like that character, Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks to keep running from and back to the firefight to look for and save his buddy already fatally wounded and his platoon leader (Gary Sinise) who lost his legs and wanted he’d died also.

Look at the much maligned Ronald Reagan even when he was already President. The people who called Reagan a “dunce” and maligned him with them turning as leading advocates and believers who consider him to rank as one of the 10 greatest US Presidents.

I won’t prejudge Mar because he could be like Reagan who would turn around the PHL economy like the U.S. from its present deterioration towards the longest economic expansion in its history. And probably make the biggest dent against graft and corruption like Reagan giving the Soviet Union the biggest blow it never recovered.

With his educational background, executive experience in the private and public sectors, and good moral underpinning I’m sure he won’t do what Binay has allegedly done which sooner or later could most likely bring him, his wife, eldest son and daughters to jail. Or, if they opted for plea bargain, they’d be compelled to return to the National Treasury their alleged ill-gotten wealth and make them poorer than they were in 1986 when Binay was a struggling lawyer sworn in as acting Makati mayor.

When we come to think of it, should God really destine Roxas and Ping Lacson (explained below) to be President and VP for 6 plus 6 years after Roxas has served the top position, the Binays and John Gokongwei, Jr. et al. may well serve as Burke’s example as the best school of Filipinos to honestly serve in the government and engage in private business, respectively.

That will be the day when like Moses, Mar will lead the “exodus” of the Filipino people out of poverty and its debilitating effects.

My more substantive response to Bobi is no matter how good Roxas is, he needs a VP to rely on as a teammate our unscientific survey resulted in Panfilo Lacson topping the choice of US-Pinoys and other overseas Filipinos for VP. Even though our Constitution departed from its U.S. model and separated the election of President and VP, a US-Pinoy PhD in political science is sure this anomaly bedeviling and stunting PHL economic development to lag behind our Asian neighbors that we’re ahead of up to 1965 can be remedied without amending the Constitution..

Let me emphasize though I didn’t just choose Roxas for President and Lacson for VP (the latter hasn’t actually said he’s interested). They are the leading choice of overseas Filipinos if we were to elect a team of President and VP the Constitution separated that we’re realizing now is a great disadvantage. We must elect a team even only by a gentlemen’s agreement and a pledge to adhere to Party support that will include Senate and House members.

If Roxas and Lacson were elected as part of the Liberal Party’s election platform and presented as a team and official candidates for President and VP to the people, Lacson by his PMA’s oath will be obligated to the Party and Roxas to be a team player and support their platform with its government plans and programs. Whatever differences may arise in governing the nation should be threshed out in the Party caucus composed of the President, VP, Party officials, LP members of Congress like advanced industrialized countries do Filipinos often take for granted.

We discard the Party like a wrapping paper. The truth is Party loyalty can be imposed and disloyalty punished by expulsion, denial of perks and privileges accorded loyal Party members, and an injunction that a turncoat won’t ever be accepted a member of another party no matter how politically powerful. This can be instituted in an amendment of the Elections Code that will stand when no one would question it; hence, there’s no need for constitutional amendment.

This is as it should be to turn around our nation’s rapid deterioration into becoming like one of an African starving nations.