Gibo, Leila, Risa & Samira

THE CORNER ORACLE - Andrew J. Masigan - The Philippine Star

Three weeks ago, I started a series  where I named my senatorial choices and the reasons why they deserve our vote. The first three on my list were Dean Chel Diokno, Senator Dick Gordon and Atty. Luke Espiritu.

As I said before, our senatorial choices will largely dictate the fate of the nation. Not only does the Senate hold legislative powers to enact laws, it alone wields the power to hear and decide on impeachment cases of elected officials; to grant extra powers to the president; to revoke or reject the president’s declaration of martial law; to propose amendments to the Constitution; to ratify or reject international treaties and to declare a state of war.

With such encompassing powers, we must elect senators who represent the best of us – both academically and professionally.

Having impeccable senators is vital, given the fragile state that the country is in today. The specter of armed conflict   is a reality, what with China’s increasing encroachment on Philippine sovereign territories. Exacerbating matters is the alarming state of poverty, which is at its highest level in seven years. Add to this the murmur of charter change towards federalism and national debts that have breached comfortable levels. The Senate is the rudder that will navigate us through these treacherous circumstances.

That said, these are my next four senatorial choices.

Gilbert Teodoro. I have known Gibo since his presidential bid in 2010 and count him among the most brilliant Filipinos of our generation. A product of Xavier and De La Salle University, Gibo earned his law degree at the University of the Philippines and went on to top the Philippine Bar in 1989. He finished his masters of law at Harvard before joining private practice.

Gibo is husband to Nikki, our envoy to UNICEF, and father to Jaime. He is an honorable man whose dedication to family matches his dedication to the republic.

Gibo has always had an affinity for the armed forces. He studied Air Education and Command at the Philippine Air Force before becoming a three-term congressman. He was appointed secretary of national defense in 2007, the youngest technocrat to hold the position. While at the DND, Gibo was defined by his dedication to mission, bravery and intelligent approach to problems. His brand of leadership was best exemplified when Typhoon Ondoy struck.

If elected, Gibo commits to champion disaster preparedness, modernization of the armed forces, empowerment of the national police and a more sensible foreign policy, among others. The Senate will be enriched by his brilliance and military savvy.

Leila de Lima. De Lima is among our best legal minds but unfortunately has been banished to prison. She graduated salutatorian at San Beda Law and later placed 8th in the 1985 Bar exam.

She was named the chairperson of the Commission of Human Rights in 2008 where she investigated Mayor Duterte for his Davao Death Squad operations. This is where the strife between the two began. In 2010, De Lima was named secretary of justice and there she filed charges against Mayor Duterte for a slew of human rights violations. She embarked on sweeping reform of the penal system, clamping down on powerful prison inmates accorded VIP treatment. She investigated and exposed the drug trade inside the national penitentiary.

In 2016, De Lima was elected senator while Duterte became President.  Immediately thereafter, the DOJ, under orders from the President, moved to imprison the embattled senator for her alleged involvement in drug trafficking inside the prison system. De Lima claims she was framed – that the very VIPs in prison (whose privileges she revoked) were made to testify against her. De Lima has been in jail for five years now.

Notwithstanding her incarceration, the tenacious Bicolana has been one of the most prolific members of the Upper House. She authored 700 bills and resolutions while behind bars. Many may not be aware that she is the woman behind the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program Act; The Magna Carta for the Poor Act and the National Commission of Senior Citizens Act.

Risa Hontiveros. Risa has had a long history of activism beginning from her days in Ateneo where she graduated cum laude. As a student, she was an anti-corruption advocate protesting the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant and the abuses of the Marcos regime.

Throughout her political career she has never waned in her fight against corruption. She was one of the prominent opposition figures that raised a howl over the Gloria Arroyo’s intended ZTE broadband scam as well as the Hello Garci controversy. During the Duterte regime, she was among the most outspoken legislators over extrajudicial killings and the Pharmally rip-off.

At the Senate, Risa represents the interest of women, children and the LGBTQ+ community. She authored 20 laws including the sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression (SOGIE) Bill as well as the Philippine Mental Health Bill.

Samira Gutoc. No one represents the interest of Mindanao better than one of her children. Gutoc hails from the Maranao tribe. She resides in Marawi and is of Islam faith. Gutoc is a product of the University of the Philippines where she became the president of UP Muslim Students Association and the Muslim Youth & Students Alliance. She is also a fellow at Oxford University.

She is an environmentalist, a women’s rights advocate and a champion for Mindanao. Gutoc was a member of the legislative body of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, which was tasked to draft the Bangsamoro Basic Law.

She is the founder of Asian Peace Alliance and established Lanao Rescue Team, a volunteer group that helps civilians displaced by the Battle of Marawi.

As we cast our vote on May 9, may we all look beyond hype and name recall and vote according to personality, platform and performance.

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Email: [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @aj_masigan.


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