A man and woman in 2016

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony Katigbak - The Philippine Star

There have been several observations on the political horizon about the candidates running for this office or that office in the May elections next year. It’s been regularly hogging the spotlight in the news and I can understand why. It seems that more people are heavily invested in the elections this year and care more about who their new leaders might be. I, for one, am definitely keeping close tabs on how the election is shaping up and following where the lines are drawn. I think it’s important that we know, not only who is running, but also the backstory of how they got there in the first place.

Now the news is about the “Ro-Ro” combination that looks like a possible bet for 2016. I’m not talking about the roll on – roll off ships carrying cargo and goods across the seas, but about he possible tandem of Roxas and Robredo for the Liberal Party in May. We’ve all heard the rumors and I think this news has already been positively received by the majority of voters who remain inspired by Naga Representative Leni Robredo’s simple and honest form of leadership as well as the good example set by her late husband, former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.

I honestly feel this is a strong and dependable combination for the 2016 top posts, considering that Senator Grace Poe has already decided to throw her hat into the ring for the president position. This is a move that actually surprised me as I am among those who consider her, as yet, too “hilaw” or not yet ripe for the top political position in the land. I feel that she could benefit greatly from a little more experience. This isn’t to say that I don’t think she is a good politician, but there is more to being president than just good intentions. I actually believe she would have made a perfect VP candidate and could have tried her hand in that post before moving up to President.

But, it was not meant to be. We have to remember that Poe topped the Senatorial race during the last elections as both parties, Liberal and Nacionalista, carried her as a common candidate. In this race, she is running as an independent and that is sure to change things up for her. In addition, she has chosen her close friend, Senator Escudero, as her running mate and many would say he is going to be an anchor weighing her down. Senator Chiz has not received favorable reviews in the news and many say he is just supporting her bid to help his true “bet” – Vice President Binay attain the top post by splitting the Roxas vote with Poe’s and ensuring that in the end, Binay gets the lion’s share.

It’s a scary notion and not a far-flung possibility that we could end up with a Binay-Escudero tandem in power after all is said and done. I think that Senator Poe has proven herself as an intelligent and honest senator and, up until the INC fiasco, seemed driven by what was right as opposed to political ambitions. However, running for president can change a person in ways they were not prepared for and we may have already seen a little bit of this as now, most of Poe’s decisions and actions will be colored by her choice to run in 2016.

Not to mention the issues surrounding her citizenship. If she was truly intent on running a clean and transparent campaign, she needs to address this sooner rather than later. The issue is not only about being a natural born Filipino but also about renouncing her Filipino citizenship to pursue a better life abroad. Do we really want a leader that once turned her back on us? And I’ve read some opinions that say if Grace is intent to be our president, than her husband and family should give up their US citizenship as well. No offense to our allies in the US, but do we want Americans living in Malacañang?

Indeed, there is still much to think about when it comes to the elections next year. I have to agree with those calling for a three-way presidential debate among the three candidates. I think this is a very important and public way for the candidates to share their platforms and answer questions about their promises. Remember, promises are only words until they actually come to fruition. We have to be able to sift through the flowery promises and get to the truth. I am hoping we are given the platform to be able to hear what our candidates have to say in an uncontrolled and spontaneous environment.

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I wrote about the traffic “hell” the city has been experiencing in my column last week and I think I realized that in order for the problems to be solved, each city and district would have to do their part to alleviate congestion on the streets. Let’s face it, some cities experience far more traffic than others, and it would be wise for the local government to put in a plan in place to help address this. If all cities would get on board to do this, perhaps their combined efforts with the efforts being made on Edsa would begin to make some sort of difference.

In the news, I saw that Mandaluyong Mayor Benhur Abalos, son of Ben Abalos, former chairman of the Commission on Elections and lifetime member of our group the Tuesday Club, said that he was willing to hold a dialogue with La Salle Greenhills on how they could better address the traffic situation on the portion of Ortigas Avenue in Barangay Wack Wack. This part is always congested due to parents and cars waiting to pick up and drop off students in La Salle.

Mayor Abalos shared that they had come up with several ideas on how to possibly address the situation. One of the ideas was to stagger start and dismissal times for the students. The streets always end up full because the multitudes of students all leave school at the same time. This was just one of several options the city is hoping to come up with in collaboration with the school. He also added that he was willing to augment the PNP-HPG personnel assigned to this traffic district to additionally help ease the flow.

While these are just some steps taken in Mandaluyong, I think it would help greatly if other cities also looked at how they can help as well. After all, traffic is affecting all of us and I think we could all greatly benefit from better road management and less congestion.

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