Winning with grace and losing with dignity

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

In 1946, when the then sitting president, Don Sergio Osmeña Sr of Cebu lost to his good friend Don Manuel Roxas of Capiz, the perfect gentleman, (grandfather of former city mayor Tom and former senator Serge) called up the winner and congratulated him. The winner graciously invited Don Sergio to his inauguration as the first president of the third Philippine republic, and the latter accepted the invitation, and attended the historic event with honor and dignity.

Don Sergio could have opted to stay away and snub the occasion because he had an axe to grind against Roxas. The two were the leading pillars of the old Nacionalista Party, which was founded by Don Sergio, along with Don Manuel L Quezon. During the Nacionalista Party Convention prior to the 1946 presidential polls, the two leading contenders for the party's standard bearers were Don Sergio and Don Manuel. The gentleman from Cebu won the convention overwhelmingly. Instead of accepting his defeat, Roxas unexpectedly bolted the party and founded the Liberal Party, together with his close ally from Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Don Elpidio Quirino, The rest is history. Roxas narrowly defeated Don Sergio who accepted his defeat with so much honor and dignity.

Don Manuel Roxas was not able to continue that tradition of grace in victory and dignity in defeat. He died while in office due to a heart attack while delivering a speech at the Clark Air Base in Pampanga. His vice president, Quirino took over the presidency. He appointed as secretary of national defense, a young Liberal Party congressman, in his thirties, from the then lone district of Zambales, Ramon Magsaysay. This young and dynamic defense chief, Magsaysay, became so popular when he caused the surrender of the famed Huk revolutionary leader, Luis Taruc. Egged by the Nacionalista Party to run against Quirino, and with the rumored support of the US, Magsaysay bolted the Liberal Party and accepted the challenge of running against his former boss.

Magsaysay won an overwhelming landslide and Quirino was not as graceful as Roxas in his defeat. But Magsaysay died in that plane crash in Cebu in 1957 at age 49. Then vice president Carlos P. Garcia from Bohol had to take his oath in our embassy in Canberra, Australia where he was attending a regional conference in his capacity as appointed secretary of foreign affairs. Garcia succeeded himself when he won his own presidential bid as Nacionalista bet against the multi-millionaire Liberal Party candidate, the multi-millionaire haciendero, Don Jose Yulo. But in his second run, Garcia was beaten by a young Liberal Bar topnotcher from Pampanga, Diosdado Macapagal. Garcia turned over the presidency to Macapgal in grace and dignity too.

Macapagal made a promise in 1961 to a party mate, Ferdinand Marcos, that he would not run for reelection. But that promise was broken in 1965 when Macapagal decided to seek reelection. Marcos left the Liberal Party and edged out Fernando Lopez and Emmanuel Pelaez from being Nacionalista standard bearer. He won against Macapagal and the latter yielded the presidency with grace. Marcos defeated Serging Osmeña, Don Sergio's son and heir apparent, in 1969. Martial Law was declared in 1972 and Marcos held on to the presidency until he was ousted in 1986. The transition from president Cory to FVR, her anointed successor was with dignity and grace.

From FVR to Erap was also with grace, but from Erap to GMA was sanctimonious. From GMA to Pnoy, the transition was civil between two capangpangan kabalens (Pnoy's part in Tarlac speaks Pampango). From Pinoy to Duterte was also civil and I am sure also with this 2022 transition between two virtual allies. The late father of president Duterte was a cabinet member of Marcos Sr. in 1966. I hope that the winners shall remain magnanimous and the losers accept defeat with a dignified sense of grace and humility. All for the good of the people and for the healing of a broken nation.


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