ENDORSEMENT: Miriam Defensor-Santiago for president
Today, over 55 million Filipinos will troop to their respective precincts to cast their votes for various national and local positions. For obvious reasons, most voters are focused in the presidential race, the winner of which will lead the Philippines for six years or from 2016 to 2022 according to the 1987 Constitution.
Before we continue further with this endorsement, The Filipino Scribe would like to commend the five individuals who courageously offered themselves to the electorate: Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. The passionate supporters and critics of each candidate also deserve praise, because having intense political discourse is a hallmark of the democratic process.
At this point, The Filipino Scribe would like to strongly encourage its readers to vote for Senator Santiago as the country’s next president. This endorsement is being given to the veteran legislator in the context of this two realities: 1) Her campaign has not gained traction because of her lingering health issues, and 2) Mayor Duterte is the likely winner of the presidential race based on the final surveys conducted by different pollsters.
Her career defies stereotypes of women in Philippine politics
According to a report from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, the rising number of women in politics “does not necessarily reflect progress in representation for women.” Quoting feminist experts, the PCIJ report pointed out that many women candidates run only “as benchwarmers or substitutes for father, brother, or spouse who belong to political clans.”
One reason why Senator Miriam is really admirable is because she built her three-decade political career using her own intelligence and achievements. She relied neither on a famous surname like Nancy Binay nor on public sympathy following the death of a father or husband a la Cory Aquino, Grace Poe, and Leni Robredo.
But what about Poe and Duterte?
I consider myself a strategic voter. Meaning, I pick candidates not just because they are my top choice for the just. It can also be because I believe he or she is the person best positioned to stop the one I found the most objectionable from winning. Now, as noted above, it appears that Duterte is really headed for a comfortable win in today’s elections.
Nevertheless, he is a single-issue candidate for me. Apart from his stance on fighting crime and corruption, he hasn’t really offered any expansive platform on anything. His saving grace is his deep understanding of the conflict in Mindanao, but it still won’t suffice for someone running for president.
As for Poe, I admit I liked her from the start and I still do. In fact, I was there at the UP Bahay ng Alumni when she announced her candidacy. However, her inexperience (she’s only halfway through her first term as a Senator) is really a big problem. At 47, she is only at the beginning of her political career. We can be sure that by 2022, she will be a more prepared candidate.
Track record of excellent service and independence
Among her rivals, she is the only one with an excellent track record of service in all branches of government (executive, judiciary, and legislative). Apart from displaying unparalleled competence, she has also never been involved in any corruption allegations.
Now, some people complain about her not being able to air endless political ads and campaign across the country frequently. Well, it’s because she’s the only candidate not supported by big financiers with vested interests.