Rooting for quality over popularity

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon - The Freeman

Things are beginning to shape up for the 2022 elections as 1Sambayan released last week its list of nominees to serve as the opposition’s candidates for president and vice president. For sure, both administration and opposition groups are working behind the scenes to explore coalitions and firm up their respective decisions in the run-up to the filing of candidacy this October.

But it’s too early to assess the chances of possible presidential and vice presidential candidates. The thing is that in this country, chances of winning comes first before qualifications in choosing a party’s nominee for president. A potential candidate refuses to give way and unite with other political parties because he or she is already leading in the surveys.

A case in point was Senator Grace Poe’s candidacy in 2016. She was leading in the presidential surveys along with then Vice President Jejomar Binay about a year before the 2016 elections. Two months before the elections, the international consulting firm Oxford Analytica even put her as the front-runner to win the presidency.

Well, that didn’t pan out into victory during election day. Poe placed third behind Mar Roxas, as both were edged out by then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who led Roxas by over six million votes.

Popularity may seem to be a logical factor in choosing a candidate, but only if we look at the present circumstances, fail to take the pulse of the electorate, and discount the power of our united efforts. The major drawback to popularity-based decision making is it surrenders the future to the control of a fleeting present.

Candidates who are more known by their names, affiliations, and antics as compared to actual qualifications and track record automatically dominate the public discussions as well as in backdoor coalition building.

This is just one of the major shortcomings of our fluid multi-party system. Potential candidates and their supporters place more premium on image-building and information warfare. That is because they know that popularity, not qualifications, can attract opportunist political coalitions.

It’s unbelievable how supporters of young politicians (still in their early forties) think that the latter are best qualified to lead this country of 110 million people. Just because these potential candidates have name recall and are leading in the surveys, traditional politicians line up like ants to partake of the sweet fruit of a coalition of convenience. I mean youth is not a weakness in politics, but it must be reinforced by an excellent track record and qualifications.

Local politics is not immune to this practice of giving more attention to those who are already having it. In Cebu City, for example, the ones making the most noise in social media are ironically those who have yet to prove that they are qualified for the higher post they aspire to win. Yet beyond their track record of local dole-outs and patronage, they have not demonstrated intellectual depth and a disciplined work ethic. I hope such political pretenders will not prevail in Cebu.

Cebu has many relatively young and emerging leaders who are qualified and deserving for either a local or national post. I can mention some names like Fifth District Congressman Duke Frasco, former congressman Red Durano and his brother Ace, Atty. Aristotle Batuhan, Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon, Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, former Cebu City councilor Mary Ann delos Santos, businessman Mimo Osmeña, and many others I cannot recall because they are not in the limelight. I hope these emerging leaders make good choices in forming political coalitions and that voters will choose their caliber during elections.

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