Thursday, December 10, 2009

The ‘formidable’ duo

by Nestor Mata
10 December 2009

‘Manny Villar and Loren Legarda have emerged as the team to beat.’

ELECTION DAY is still six months away, and already some presidential wannabes are already throwing partisan bombs, staging pep rallies and holding photo-ops instead of more serious gravitas-building appearances and statements about policies, goals and programs.

Of all the would-be presidents numbering over --- believe it or not! ---91, only two presidential and vice presidential teams have announced their platforms. They are Manny Villar and Loren Legarda of the Nacionalista Party and Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party.

And they are considered the frontrunners in the electoral race to replace Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who has been the temporary resident of MalacaƱang where she has squatted for nine long years of a faux presidency.

Unlike the Villar-Legarda tandem, who publicly announced their clear-cut platform of government during their proclamation as NP standard-bearers in Moriones, Tondo in Manila, however, Aquino and Roxas merely published theirs in paid newspaper ads in Manila newspapers. And the Aquino-Roxas platform contained nothing but an abundance of superfluous words and phrases which sounded very much like the time-worn mantras of politicos.

It was during that NP proclamation in Tondo, where he was born, that Villar urged the public and party supporters to join him and Legarda in pursuing a "new revolution" to fight poverty and "free our countrymen from the dire circumstances in their lives."

This, one political pundit has commented, was Villar’s "battlecry" to solve poverty and hunger that has beset millions of poor Filipinos under the present administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Indeed, as revealed by a recent public opinion survey, Filipinos are now looking at Manny Villar as "the one" who will take care of the poor and who can create more jobs for the unemployed. And it also reported that the respondents saw Villar as the leader who’s most accessible and really cares for the poor.

Of course, Villar is not alone in his crusade to uplift the poor. Former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada, too, has voiced his concern for them. But, unlike Villar, who was born poor in Tondo, Estrada was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, whose parents belonged to the moneyed class of society.

Villar knows how to help the poor because he well knows how it feels to be poor, unlike Aquino and Roxas who are not only scions of rich families but also grandees of political dynasties.

On the issue of change, which both the Villar-Legarda and the Aquino-Roxas camps have raised, Villar warned the people that not all those who trumpet change in government offer real change.

"What kind of change would they bring?" he asked. "Do they really understand the plight of the poor? Or are they just referring to change who is in power?"

One can’t help but be impressed by the pledge of Villar and Legarda never to engage in "personalities" or "personal attacks." That is, in dirty, name-calling, smearing campaign as practiced by politicos on their rivals during the campaign for the presidency.

Indeed, Villar and Legarda really don’t have to engage themselves in such dishonorable and old practice of dirty politics. They have already publicly revealed their program and policies of government, their dedication to fight against poverty and the greening of the environment. These are issues which have long been blithely neglected and ignored by past administrations since the time of Cory Cojuangco Aquino up to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

The Villar-Legarda tandem, as a matter of fact, is considered "formidable" in letters to the editors if Manila’s mainstream newspapers.

One such letter called Villar and Legarda "a balanced tandem" and dubbed it the "Double E Team" for their shared advocacy for economics and environment.

"Our past and present presidents were all born rich and what happened?" another asked. "If we want to have a meaningful change, we should now have a leader who was born poor and knows how it is to be poor."

Quite remarkably, these unsolicited views reflected Manny Villar’s own vision of a new kind of presidency.

In his recent public statements he envisioned a presidency, far, far, different from past and present presidencies. "It’s a real change," to quote his own words, "…It’s not merely change in the presidency. It’s enriching the lives of millions of poor Filipinos."