After flirting with the idea for over a year, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago officially declared her presidential bid during the 2016 elections this week. The senator had previously sought the presidency in 1992 and 1998. While her announcement received very favorable feedback from her social media followers, her decision to have her colleague Senator Bongbong Marcos as running-mate raised not a few eyebrows.
Before proceeding, let’s take a few moments to discuss how the unlikely tandem emerged. Santiago is now finishing her third non-consecutive term in the Senate and is ineligible for reelection next year. Marcos, on the other hand, previously served as governor and congressman of Ilocos Norte before winning a Senate seat in 2010.
As mentioned above, Santiago has long expressed her desire for the presidency. Meanwhile, Marcos was pursued by the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay for a possible alliance although the Senator ultimately declined it.
Marcos (and even his supporters) consistently expressed not-so-subtle hints that he prefers to have Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on top of the ticket. With Duterte ruling out with finality any presidential bid and with Santiago determined to push ahead, Marcos’ decision to ally himself with the feisty legislator isn’t surprising.
Many questioned Santiago, a self-professed anti-corruption crusader, for aligning herself with Marcos. His father and namesake, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is tagged by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt leaders throughout world history.
Now, before people pile on Santiago for supposedly lacking principles, let’s try to understand her circumstances. We all know fully well that history is significant because studying the lessons of the past will help us understand the present and serve as a guide for the future.
However, politics is a different ballgame, especially at the presidential level. Past events and allegiances takes a backseat in the goal of seeking political power. In this case, the tandem of Santiago and Marcos can have a good chance of securing the following – the votes from the Solid North, Eastern and Western Visayas, Marcos loyalists, and voters who could have been Duterte’s base of support: OFWs, the youth, and the Mindanao bloc.
Politics is addition. For example, if you can have the support of both Ang Dating Daan and Iglesia ni Cristo, why not? Having wonderful platforms is meaningless if you don’t get elected and if you don’t get the chance to actually implement it.
That’s why politicians always say that elections are about the future, not re-litigating the past. It sucks, and it is disappointing. But that’s the way it goes. Waiting for a politician who will NEVER disappoint you is like waiting for a unicorn to walk across a rainbow in the sky.