Not so secret formula

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

There is rhyme and reason why a President and Vice President of the land are voted as one team like they do in the United States (US). The American President can ensure that his platform of government is shared and followed by his constitutional successor. His VP is ideally placed in the second-in-command to continue their program of government in his stead.

Elected together in tandem as President and VP belonging to the same political party, the US Chief Executive doesn’t worry about an opposition rival waiting in the wings for his death or disability. After all, his VP carried the same platform of government they both presented to the American people that got them elected into office as a team of two.

Thus, this is the most important argument for this voting together the President and the VP from one team. It guarantees there is less – if no disunity at all – in the highest level of government.

Unfortunately, our system of government in the Philippines is different. But this shouldn’t keep Filipinos from voting for a tandem they believe in and rally behind. Methinks every one of us Filipinos is smart enough to tell a marriage of political convenience that could break apart at the first sign of trouble. That’s why the recent clamor for “tandem voting” for the highest elected positions in the government should be pursued with genuine vigor. Our next elected leaders should endeavor for this specific amendment of our country’s 1987 Constitution.

Speaking about our 1987 Constitution, I could not agree more with the observation of my good friend, veteran reporter Manny Mogato on the latest political rigmarole among presidential and VP bets running on May 9, 2022 national elections. Mogato who is the first Filipino journalist to clinch a Pulitzer Award aptly noted the irony of the latest political alliances and coalitions among candidates who were on the opposite sides fighting for democracy during the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution.

He particularly referred to the Lakas-Muslim-Christian Democrats (Lakas-CMD) which first fielded Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte as their VP bet. The Lakas-CMD was originally the Lakas-Tao party founded by EDSA “hero,” former president Fidel V. Ramos who aided in the ouster of the late dictator.

Fast forward. House majority leader, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez is currently the president of the Lakas-CMD. After she finally made up her mind to run for VP as substitute candidate for a Lakas-CMD placeholder, Mayor Sara was elected chairperson of the party. The Partido Federal – headed by the namesake son of the late dictator, ex-Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (BBM) as its presidential standard-bearer – immediately adopted Mayor Sara as his VP runningmate.

In turn, Marcos’s first cousin Romualdez also adopted BBM as the Lakas-CMD presidential standard-bearer. This was formalized last week under an alliance with Partido Federal along with Mayor Sara’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago where she abruptly resigned from and then re-joined a few days later.

Not to be outwitted, the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS) also adopted Mayor Sara as their VP runningmate for their party’s presidential standard bearer, Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go. The erstwhile Special Assistant to the President originally filed his candidacy as VP bet of the ruling administration party PDP-Laban headed no less by President Duterte as its nominal chieftain.

However, the two warring factions of the PDP-Laban have a pending leadership dispute before the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Pending resolution of the intra-party dispute, the PDP-Laban entered into an alliance pact with the PDDS.

Caught in the father-daughter dispute, Go acceded to “step up” as presidential candidate for the PDDS to avoid running against Mayor Sara in the VP race. Go filed as a “substitute” presidential bet for the PDDS placeholder. They also fielded President Duterte as “substitute” candidate for a PDDS placeholder in next year’s 12-man Senate race.

The PDDS was quietly organized in 2018 by Mr. Duterte and his original supporters who included Go. They claim Mayor Sara is one of the PDDS national advisers.

Fortunately, there are encouraging indications from recent surveys showing the Filipino voters seem to be realizing the need for a true synergy between their elected President and the VP. From these opinion polls, a growing majority of Filipinos indicate willingness to consider changing our election system to a tandem voting for the President and the VP. Perhaps, it can happen after the elections next year.

The duo of Partido Reporma chairman and standard-bearer Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) chairman, Senate president Vicente “Tito” Sotto III apparently are only too aware and cognizant on these telltale signs over the political horizon in our country.

Last week, the Lacson-Sotto team formally presented their so-called “Council of Two” as representing their common agenda of governance.

In one of the surveys, the Lacson-Sotto tandem moved up to a strong second behind the early frontrunners. The survey respondents were asked: “If you are given a choice, and if the elections will be held today, who among these pairings or tandems will you vote for?”

Theirs is a true friendship and partnership, forged by a combined 42 years in the Senate and 83 years overall in public service – Lacson as a former Philippine National Police chief, Sotto who once served for three consecutive terms as Quezon City vice mayor and chaired at one time the Dangerous Drugs Board. The latest survey results reflected more and more people recognize the experience and track record in public service of the two Senators.

This also tells us that Filipinos are no longer impressed by social media antics and fake popularity. But the electorates, now mostly the young voters, look for proven, dependable, and truthful leaders who can work – together, not separately. This is the not so secret formula that our great country needs.

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