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Ex-President Arroyo unopposed in Pampanga

Published in True or False
Even if some Filipinos have issues against her, the people of Pampanga, especially in our hometown of Lubao, continue to love and revere former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the province’s favourite daughter just like her late father, President Diosdado P. Macapagal.
This is once again shown as no one came forward to contest her seat in the House of Representatives during the filing of certificates of candidacy (CoC) from October 12 to 16, making her ecstatic for being loved by her constituents. “Thank you for the love and support,” Mrs. Arroyo said in her Facebook account, as she tagged her name with the declaration “feeling loved.”
This is history as this is the first time that Mrs. Arroyo is running unopposed in the second district of Pampanga which covers the towns of Lubao, Guagua, Floridablanca, Sasmuan, Sta. Rita and Porac.
Mrs. Arroyo made her first congressional attempt in 2010 immediately after serving as president of the Philippines for nine years from 2001 to 2010. As the country’s 14th president, she made history as the second president from Pampanga and thus forging the country’s first father and daughter to become president of the land with her late father, President Diosdado Macapagal. They were also the first father-daughter to serve as Vice President.  She is also the second lady president of the nation after President Corazon C. Aquino.
In that first run,  a handful of candidates challenged her but won by landslide in all the six towns in the district. She snatched 77 percent or 169,109 of the 219,592 votes cast. His strongest opponent then was businessman Adonis Simpao of Liberal Party (LP), which ironically was the party which carried her father to the vice presidency and eventually presidency of the Philippines. Simpao, who belongs to a well-placed family in the district, got 20,922 votes.
Another candidate, Filipinas Sampang, an educator who is married to another educator, Enerico Sampang, whose family is well known in Pampanga, got 751 votes. Enerico’s brother, Art Sampang, had served as vice governor of Pampanga under then Governor Bren Guiao. A fourth congressional candidate, independent Feliciano Serrano tallied 3,586 votes, according to records of the Commission on Elections.
During that 2010 elections, then Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Lilia G. Pineda, a former mayor of Lubao and a close ally of Mrs. Arroyo, defeated former governor Eduardo Panlilio, a former priest in Pampanga and LP candidate, in their gubernatorial race rematch. Pineda got 488,521 votes against Panlilio’s 242,367 votes. In the 2016 elections, Governor Pineda is also making history as she is running unopposed.
Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo served her first term present in the plenary from 2010 until her arrest in October 2012. She was ordered arrested on charges of plunder for allegedly stealing P366 million of the intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). While her co-accused, the then Chairman of the PCSO Board, Sergio Valencia, and board members like Manuel Morato, former mayor Raymundo Roquero, Jose Taruc V and Ma. Fatima Valdes, due to weak evidence, have been either cleared of the charges or released on bail (one of them (Roquero) has just been appointed by President Aquino as Sangguniang Panlalawigan member of Capiz), Congresswoman Arroyo remains in hospital detention. She has since brought her case before that to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) through celebrated international human rights lawyer Amal Alamudin-Clooney, wife of popular American actor George Clooney. Mrs. Arroyo won her case before the UNWGAD which called for her release. "Mrs. Arroyo was denied bail on grounds that are not compatible with international law; she did not benefit from the presumption in favor of bail; she was denied bail exclusively on the basis of the alleged strength of evidence against her; measures alternative to pre-trial detention were not considered and there were undue delays in considering her bail position in the proceedings against her as a whole," the UN Working Group had ruled.
Taking the cue from the UNWGAD, the former President filed only on October 15 a 115-page petition before the SC, through her lawyer, former Solicitor General and Pampanga Governor Estelito Mendoza,  asking the high court to expedite the resolution of her petition, set the case for oral arguments, suspend the proceedings before the Sandiganbayan while the case is with the SC, and, as a final plea, order the dismissal of the plunder charge. Even before the case reached the UNWGAD and the High Court, Sandiganbayan Justices Alex Quiroz and Rodolfo Ponferrada have recommended that Arroyo be allowed to post bail. Despite agreeing that the demurrer of Arroyo should be junked, the two Justices recommended that Arroyo be freed on bail because  the prosecution failed to prove that plunder was committed. “The evidence of the prosecution failed to show the existence of the crime of plunder as no evidence was presented that any of the accused amassed, accumulated and/or acquired ill gotten wealth. In fact, the principal witness of the prosecution, when asked, said she does not know the existence or whereabouts of the alleged ill gotten wealth,” Ponferrada said. That witness has since been removed as lawyer and member of the PCSO Board by President Aquino.
 
In her reelection bid in 2013, Congresswoman Arroyo again won by landslide despite under hospital arrest for plunder at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. In fact, her votes rose from 77 percent in 2010 to 78.24 percent of those cast (190,884) or 149,344 votes over her closest rival from the Liberal Party (LP), lawyer and former Pampanga provincial administrator Vivian Dabu, who is a relative from Lubao who got 16,238 votes. Two other candidates, Charlie Chua and Josefina Leoncio, got 1,966 votes and 1,271 votes, respectively.
As a journalist and later as consultant to former Pampanga Congressman and Vice Governor Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, I have seen a bit up close how President Arroyo worked, joining her in some foreign visits, especially in San Francisco and the United States. What I know is maybe just a dot of the whole picture and while many disagree and continue to discredit her, I believe she has done also many things good for our province and country while a member of the Cabinet, Senator, Vice President and President. I am not a lawyer and I do not wish to rush judgement on her cases. Many in our midst, especially in government, are pretenders – behaving that they are immaculately clean when they are not. Our challenge as citizens is how to look forward amidst all these pretentions, unite and work towards improving our country and making the nation a better place for us, our children and for everybody. Let us come out of the ugly cocoon as majestic butterflies flying and soaring high over a beautiful and robust garden just like what our nation should be.
 

(Photo from brudirect.com)

PASAY CITY (PHLTODAYUSA) —Four major candidates for the president in the 2016 election next year have appeared before businessmen and pitched their economic platforms but many businessmen reportedly were not impressed.

 

The occasion was the 41st Philippine Business Conference (PBC) of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay City on Tuesday, October 27.

 

The four are Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares, former Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

 

The consensus among businessmen was that while all four tackled issues that were expected in a business setting, none focused on the issue close to PCCI’s main advocacy, which is the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector or the backbone of the local economy.

 

PCCI president Alfredo M. Yao said he was impressed by the four, but said he was looking for “more.”

 

“Not pertaining to any presidentiable, but I’m looking at a leader with a strong political will. Whether unpopular or popular, if you think that’s right, do it. Have political will (to make decisions),” said Yao.

 

Yao said it would take at least two decades to have confidence in a fully recovered Philippine economy. “Maybe another two or three terms (presidents) before we can recover.”

 

“As a citizen – and for me as a businessman – I’d like to see a president who will do what he or she says he or she will do,” Yao added.  He also prefers a leader who is practical and has common sense. “You don’t need a complicated solution. I practice that in business and in life.”

 

PCCI honorary chair, Sergio Ortiz-Luis, for his part, said most of the candidates spoke about political agendas such as Charter change, taxes, and infrastructures.

 

“Basically they are all saying the same thing and there’s nothing new. It’s a question of – do you agree with them or not?”

 

Both Ortiz-Luis and Yao have not decided who to vote yet. “Malayo pa, matagal pa, marami pa mangyayari,” he said. But if there is one thing he wished the presidentiables spoke about, it was SMEs. “I would have wished that (they talked about) financing for SMEs.”

 

Poverty is the moral issue of the time and it is what his administration will focus on, said Vice President Binay at the forum.

 

“The moral problem actually is not corruption, the moral problem is poverty. That is what I have to face, not a fight against all these allegations but a fight to alleviate poverty in the life of every Filipino,” Binay said.

 

In his opening statement, Binay said his administration will focus on “sustainable and shared economic growth” through balanced social and economic policies.

 

“This administration may lay claim to the country’s economic growth and credit rating upgrades, but the average 6.3% per year from 2010-2014 would have been more meaningful if it induced the creation of more stable jobs and opportunities for our people,” Binay said.

 

“Our economic agenda is simple: sustainable and shared economic growth. I’m convinced that inclusive growth is possible with the right mix of social and economic policies by a government that is sensitive to both the needs of its residents and those who do business in the country,” he added.

 

He also noted that it would take a strong political will from government leaders and the help of the Filipino people to ensure that the effect of the country’s economic gains will be felt by all.

 

“We need a sustained 7-8% GDP growth per annum to reduce poverty even faster and to attain more inclusive growth sooner. We can achieve this with the right policies, proper implementation and timely delivery of priority projects. And we shall see to it that economic growth and progress are cascaded to the poor and marginalized,” he said.

 

“It can be reinforced with a more effective monitoring and supervision of priority programs and projects, and with the continued cooperation and support of the business sector. When government enables businesses to flourish, it also enables itself to help more of its people. It’s a shared responsibility and mutually beneficial situation; it’s a win-win for all,” he added.

 

Binay expressed his support for the amendment of the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution to encourage foreign investments and create a more vibrant business environment.

 

“We shall work towards a market-oriented and pro-business environment that will allow local and foreign firms to flourish in the Philippines,” Binay said.

 

“First, we must amend the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution that currently restricts the entry of foreign investments in some major sectors of the Philippine economy. This single step serves as the impetus that will help address nagging problems in our country, such as, unreliable and expensive power, poor infrastructure, and lack of jobs,” he added.

 

Binay also reaffirmed his support for the enactment of the Fiscal Incentives Rationalization Bill; Build-Operate-Transfer Law amendments; Right-of-Way Bill; Creation of the Department of Information and Communications Technology; and the Reduction of the high levels of personal and income tax rates.

 

Binay said his administration will focus on strengthening the mining, manufacturing, and agriculture saying these sectors create more jobs.

 

“Our program of government covers increasing agricultural productivity, making the manufacturing and export sectors more competitive, and supporting environmentally- and socially-responsible mining,” he said.

 

Senator Grace Poe promised to the country’s business leaders that eliminating red tape would be the focus of her administration in the first 100 days if elected president in the 2016 elections.


”Under my watch, red-tape should not be a profit center for government,” Poe told the PCCI.


Citing the newspapers report on Tuesday, Poe said the outdated regulations cost the Philippines some P140 billion in opportunity losses.


Poe emphasized the need to legislate a new anti-red tape law that would reduce the business application process from 15 steps to at least the level that businessmen have been enjoying in other countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.


”If you’re starting a mom-and-pop operation, or if you’re in a sole proprietorship, working for your home with no employees, why should you spend 45,000 in fees and licenses alone? In the ease of doing business we have proved quite a bit but it takes about 15 steps to start a business in the Philippines while in Thailand it just takes 4 steps,” Poe said.


The leading presidential candidate said reducing red tape would result to more foreign direct investments (FDI) in the country.


”It is quite an achievement that the government has P6 billion in foreign direct investments but our neighbors have more than that, P8 billion in Vietnam and in Thailand even more,” Poe said.


Poe said she would also continue the fight against graft and corruption by passing into law the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, the same measure which the Senate approved under her watch as chairperson of the committee on public information.


”So one thing, is to continue our fight against corruption, we should make sure that red tape is reduced,” Poe said.


The lady senator said she would also give priority on making the Philippines one of the favorite tourist destinations by building more infrastructure projects and business climate.


”Tourist arrivals in the Philippines is also something that we should increase now our average is a little around 5 million tourists a year whereas Thailand has 26 million and a little bit more in Vietnam. I think that this is an area, tourism, where we can have an added value in terms of employment and in terms of opportunities,” Poe said.


Poe also said she would push reform in the country’s tax code with the objective of reducing tax payments.


”I think that we should re-classify the different brackets for taxes. We are one of the highest in Asia and yet our government services still have to be improved. From 2011 until the present, we have about P600 billion in unspent fund in the government and reducing taxes will only take away about P30 billion, so when they say what programs we have to cut, we don’t even have to cut programs we just have to be more efficient in being able to roll out our projects so that more opportunities will be created,” she said.
Poe said agriculture is also in need of support of the next administration considering it is one sector that the highest poverty incidence.


”The majority of our countrymen are dependent on agriculture but we need to increase mechanization, we need to give them the proper insurance, the crop property insurance, the farm to country road for our farmers,” she said.


”I know that this is said every now and then but I need small water impounding facilities, we need more dam for irrigation, 500,000 hectares of land still needs to be irrigated. There’s a question about whether we need to be rice self-sufficient, or we should have food security. But definitely we should think of food security and the livelihood and insistence of our farmers,” she added.


Poe stressed the need for next government to make business sector as its important partner.


”We will not be successful if we do not help each other and I can guarantee you that having been raised by parents who are also entrepreneurs, I understand the challenges that face the business community but we belong to the small business owners, what more the many others trying to get a loan from the bank, trying to get their permits approve, so these are the things that I feel that we can concentrate on so that we can increase foreign direct investments and so we can also help our local businessmen,” Poe said.

 

Santiago said the country needs to prepare its people through improving health and education services to ensure faster economic growth and to trickle down the effect of this.

 

The lawmaker added she will continue the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program but in a more cost-efficient way by involving the local government in implementation.

 

Public infrastructure in the Philippines should be at par with other ASEAN neighbors, according to Santiago.

 

For Roxas, he said that he will continue the programs of the Aquino administration in investing on people and infrastructure which he noted as key structural reforms of the current government.

 

Roxas mentioned that the government has enacted to close classroom backlogs, invested P65 billion for CCT Program, and spent P75 billion in 2014 as PhilHealth reimbursement.

 

In terms of infrastructure investments, total capital outlay of the government has tripled from P175 billion or 1.8 percent of GDP in 2010 to P570 billion this year. For 2016, the government allotted PhP800 billion for infrastructure projects or approximately 5.0 percent of the country’s GDP, Roxas cited.

 

Poe, in her message to PCCI, said public infrastructure is necessary for the country to improve the tourism sector which has a great potential for value added activities and job creation.

 

The four presidentiables all vowed to select and appoint competitive cabinet members to ensure programs will be effectively implemented and delivered.

 

Tax reforms and FOI

Binay, Poe, and Santiago stated the need for tax reforms particularly in lowering corporate income tax (CIT) and personal income tax (PIT) rates.

 

Santiago vowed to reform tax system within six months of her administration while Binay said tax reforms will be a priority and he will reduce gradually CIT rate if he will be seated as the next president.

Poe is more concerned on the reduction of individual tax payment.

 

Roxas, on the other note, said he is open to reducing income tax rates but the initiative needs to be studied “very closely” and should be put in “very sober and non-populist” discussions -- not in time of elections.

 

He noted that the philosophy of the current administration is to invest back to people their taxes through improved public service.

 

The two lady lawmakers will both push for the enactment of Freedom of Information (FOI) as a law while Binay and Roxas did not mentioned the pending legislation.

 

Distinct initiatives

Santiago’s distinct initiative she told to the business group is “passing a law authorizing the use of public funds to support dominant political parties” which she stressed will create a stable political institution in the country.

 

This will also push political parties to be accountable for the mistakes of their own candidates and leaders that will be in government positions, according to Santiago.

 

Poe, alone, mentioned the importance of tourism industry in the country.

 

She aims to further increase tourist arrivals in the country by improving public infrastructure.

 

Binay, on the other hand, targets to focus on poverty reduction by providing more jobs.

 

He said this will be possible through supporting industries that are very active in employment such as manufacturing and export.

 

Roxas vowed to sustain the country’s economic momentum and reclaim its position as center of modernity and growth in Asia by continuing the initiatives of the Aquino administration on transparency, rules-based governance, and strong fight against corruption.

 

He noted that the cry during the past elections was ‘change’, but for the first time, the country now has reasons to push for ‘continuity’ of government programs and initiatives.

 

Bongbong’s gambit

Published in Perry Scope

Everyone knows that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  That is also true in politics; however, some -- if not most – of the times, a straight line is fraught with danger that prevents someone from reaching the destination.  And to some people, taking a circuitous – and longer distance – might avoid a lot of distractions, and have a better chance of reaching the goal.

 

At 58 years of age, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. could be one of those who feel the need – or urge -- to take the fast track, that is, a straight line to the presidency.  Indeed, he could have taken that route if he heeded his mom’s, Congresswoman Imelda Marcos, fervent desire for Bongbong to run for president as early as 2010.  Instead, he ran for a six-year Senate term and won.

 

His experience in the Senate gave him national recognition and provided him a stepping-stone to higher office -- the presidency – thus fulfilling his mom’s dream that her only son would follow the footsteps of her late husband, the strongman President Ferdinand E. Marcos. Halfway through his Senate term, when Bongbong was asked what his future plans were, he said that he was considering running for a higher office in 2016.  And “higher office” could only mean the presidency or vice presidency.  And since Imelda really wanted him to run for president, one would be convinced that he would definitely do so. All indications pointed to a presidential run; however, he continued to sidestep the question while his ardent – mostly young -- followers unceasingly promoted in the social media his “presidential” qualities and those of his father whom they credited for the improvements to the country’s economy and infrastructure. 

 

Bongbong’s dilemma

 

Indeed, the “Bongbong for President” campaign in the social media heightened a great deal of anticipation from his supporters – who revived the old cliché, “Marcos pa rin kami!”  However, it also awakened his father’s old enemies and detractors, who dread the return of the “Dictator” in the person of his son.   While Bongbong’s supporters are growing in numbers, the revival of the anti-Marcos movement -- which had been dormant in the past three decades – is gaining momentum, albeit disorganized.  Or could it be that they are just waiting for the son to enter the presidential race and then organize to stop him?  This is a question that can’t be answered today only because nobody knows how strong he is.   Surveys could give some inkling of Bongbong’s real electoral strength; however, that would only be manifested when he enters the race, which begs the question: Is Bongbong taking a longer – but surer –path to the presidency, by way of the vice presidency?   

 

In my article, “Who doesn’t want to be vice president?” (August 28, 2015), I wrote: “Whoever wins the vice presidency would be in a good position to run for president in 2022.   Statistics show that out of the 10 presidential elections since 1946 (excluding the presidential elections during the martial law), five incumbent vice presidents ran for president in the next presidential election and won.  They were: Elpidio Quirino in 1948, Carlos P. Garcia in 1953, Diosdado Macapagal in 1961, Joseph Estrada in 1998, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004.  But three other incumbent vice presidents had opted not to run for president, to wit: Emmanuel Pelaez in 1965, Salvador Laurel in 1992, and Noli de Castro in 2010.”

 

Historical data

 

Given these historical data, the elected president in 2022 would come from the 2016 crop of vice presidential candidates: Rep. Leni Robredo, Sen. Chiz Escudero, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, and Sen. Bongbong Marcos.  The question is: Who among them would be elected vice president in 2016?  With the 2016 campaign season already in full swing, each of them have a good chance of winning the race; however, the candidate with a large bloc of voters identified with the candidate either by region or language would have an edge over the others.  

Two blocs with the largest number of voters are the Solid North and Ilocano Vote.  Then there are the Bicolano Vote, Cebuano Vote, Mindanao Vote, Visayan Vote, Tagalog Vote, Central Luzon Vote, and Metro Manila Vote.  Surmise it to say, an Ilocano candidate could capture the combined Solid North and Ilocano Vote, while a Cebuano candidate could capture the combined Visayan Vote, Cebuano Vote, and a good chunk of the Mindanao Vote.   

 

If the regional bloc and language bloc are taken into consideration on who’d win the vice presidency, the following shows where their electoral bases are:

 

1.  Marcos – Solid North and Ilocano Vote.

2.  Escudero – Bicolano Vote.

3.  Robredo – Bicolano Vote.

4.  Honasan – Bicolano Vote and Central Luzon Vote.

5.  Trillanes – Bicolano Vote and Visayan Vote.

6.  Cayetano – Tagalog Vote and Metro Manila Vote.

 

While voters weigh the qualifications – character, honesty, experience, achievement -- of the candidates, the candidates’ regional and language provenance would play an important aspect in their final decision of whom they’ll vote for.  And this is why they’d do their utmost to protect their electoral bases.  
 

Ilocano Vote

 

It is apparent that Bongbong – from a regional/language standpoint – has a built-in advantage over his rivals.  And his chances are further enhanced because four of the candidates – Robredo, Escudero, Honasan, and Trillanes – have roots in the Bicol region, which could divide the Bicolano Vote among them.  Cayetano is in a position to capture the Tagalog Vote and the huge Metro Manila Vote; however, Metro Manila is not as clannish as the Ilocano Vote and Bicolano Vote.

 

Bongbong enjoys the clannishness of the Ilocanos and by extension the Solid North, which was the bailiwick of his father.  The question is: Would Bongbong be able to get the support his father got from Ilocanos?   And would Bongbong be able to communicate with Ilocanos in their native language just like how Marcos Sr. did with his mastery and eloquence of the Ilocano language?

 

Bongbong must have spent a great deal of time in deciding whether to run for president or not.  He must have decided against it because he was not sure if his electoral base was large enough to clinch the presidency.  And he must have been convinced that the anti-Marcos forces would trounce him in the polls.  

 

Sins of the father

 

Ultimately, Bongbong demurred and decided against running for president in 2016.  He sacrificed his life-long ambition of following the footsteps of his father.  He must have told himself, “The presidency can wait.”  In six years, he’d be 64 years old.  And it would have been 36 years after the People Power Revolution that deposed his father.

 

If he seeks the presidency in 2022, he would have to win the vice presidency in 2016.  Then he has to do a great job of serving the people to atone for the sins of his father, which would be a challenge by itself.

 

During an interview with the media two days after he announced his candidacy for vice president, Bongbong said, “I am looking towards the future. The past is the past.”   But the question is: Would time heal?  Bongbong took a gambit hoping that it will. 

 

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Duterte: Leave him be

Published in On Distant Shore

The Commission on Elections should declare as nuisance candidate Martin Dino, a former barangay leader in Metro Manila who filed a last-minute Certificate of Candidacy for president under the PDP-Laban party obviously to leave a small window of opportunity for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to change his mind and seek the presidency in the May 2016 elections.

 

Under the law, the PDP-Laban can still make a substitution of its candidate until December 10, 2015 as long as the substitute belongs to the same party. Duterte is a member of the PDP-Laban.

 

Dino, by any measure, is definitely a nuisance candidate because he is clearly not capable of staging a serious campaign for the presidency and is only causing a distraction to the presidential campaign by leaving open the possibility of a Duterte run.

 

A Duterte run would definitely change the campaign scenarios because he has the capacity to get votes from all the major candidates – Vice President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA); Senator Grace Poe, an independent candidate being supported by the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC); former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II of the Liberal Party (LP); and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago of the Reformist Party.

 

Because of his wishy-washy attitude, intentional or not, the candidates cannot make final campaign plans and his supporters are left hanging in the cold.

 

Duterte offered hope to many people of finally having a no-nonsense president who will have the political will and the guts to go after the corrupt and the criminal in our society. He was quick to the draw when punishing criminal elements and making thought-provoking statements on what he would do if he became president. But he is too slow in making the most important decision – whether he would run or not for president.

 

His advisers say the dilly-dallying was intentional because he did not want to open himself to harsh criticisms and black propaganda too early. They said declared candidates can not criticize him for as long as he has not made his final declaration because they needed his support in vote-rich Mindanao in case he decided not to run. It makes sense, considering what happened to Binay, who on his first year as vice president had made known his intention to run for president, leaving him open to all sorts of political wrecking crews.

 

On the other hand, knowing his flair for drama, Duterte could also be intentionally delaying his declaration of candidacy up to the last legal minute to achieve the greatest impact. He could also be delaying his declaration to keep his opponents guessing and therefore make their plans and preparations tentative and in disarray.

 

It is also possible that he was telling the truth about his family being against a possible candidacy, especially with the current health situation of his wife who is reportedly suffering from cancer. And that this was making him uncertain about running.

 

Whatever his reasons are, the country cannot afford to have a president who, after several months of barnstorming the country, still can’t decide to run for president or not. Even one of his closest political advisers, Lito Banayo, obviously got tired of the tentative situation Duterte has brought them all in. Columnist Andy del Rosario in a recent column quoted Banayo as having remarked about Duterte, “hele hele, pero quiere, ” or “pakipot.”

 

Despite repeated declarations by Duterte that he was not running for president, his supporters continue to hope it was just part of his strategy to confuse the opponents. Until the last minute, they gathered in front of the Comelec office in Intramuros waiting for Duterte to appear and file his certificate of candidacy (COC). And now, some of them still believe that Duterte would replace Dino on or beforeDecember 10.

 

The speculation that Duterte would still run for president rose to a crescendo when Sara, a former mayor of Davao City and Duterte’s daughter, posted on social media a copy of a COC she filed for mayor. Supporters surmised that Sara wouldn’t run without his father’s knowledge, raising speculation that Duterte would withdraw his own COC for mayor. This came on the same day of the filing of COC by Dino as PDP-Laban candidate for president, which many believed would finally lead to a substitution on or before December 10.

 

It turned out, however, that Sara never really filed the COC, crushing the hopes of Duterte’s supporters and advisers. But they continue to hang on to the possibility that Duterte would eventually substitute for Dino.

 

Duterte hasn’t done much to end the speculation. On October 17, a day after the deadline for the filing of COCs, Duterte, according to Banayo, went to a social event at Greenbelt 5 and when the crowd of supporters egged him to run, he said, “May December pa naman.”

 

The Comelec said it is poised to declare Dino a nuisance candidate if it is ascertained that he was not really intent in running for president but only filed for a possible substitution by Duterte. If Duterte is really intending to substitute for Dino, he will have to do it sooner thanDecember 10 because the Comelec just might declare Dino a nuisance candidate.

 

The Comelec can end all these speculations and the confusion that has thrown the 2016 presidential race in uncertainty by declaring Dino a nuisance candidate once and for all, and let Duterte’s supporters choose from among the four serious candidates as to who will run the country in the next six years. His supporters will soon realize that their candidate is too indecisive to become president.

 

Or they can just take Duterte for his word, that he is not interested in running for president.

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