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Friday, May 31, 2024

Impressions of the Vice President

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“There are three Cs that voters consider as metrics when they decide on their president: Competence, Character, and Compassion”

This is not an endorsement of the Vice President who might be president in the near future.

I did not vote for her in the last elections, as I was rooting for an Isko Moreno-Doc Willy Ong tandem.

In mid-January 2021, I had dinner with then President Duterte in the palace.

Present were ES Bingbong Medialdea and the ubiquitous Sen. Bong Go, along with four of us who were not from Davao, but supported the mayor as early as January of 2015, when he had yet to make up his mind on gunning for the top post.

On that occasion, when the president asked me for my honest opinion, I said it would not look good if he were to be immediately succeeded by his daughter, even if she was topping the surveys.

He did not take offense, and in fact said his daughter will not seek the presidency, and would just run Davao City. Father and daughter were not in the best of terms, as far as the public then knew.

He expressed a desire for Bong Go to run, but even the senator himself admitted he was not up to it.

As I was tied down in Manila during the 2016 Duterte campaign, I did not get to see Inday Sara in the hustings, as she campaigned in Visayas and Mindanao.

When her father became president, I was appointed as chairman and resident representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan, and found myself detached from the goings-on in the local political scene.

One day in 2017, I got a call from her chief of staff, who said that the mayor would be visiting a friend of hers who had become a permanent resident in Taiwan. Later, an advance team of two PSG members coordinated with the MECO office for security and protocol arrangements.

To our surprise though, Mayor Inday Sara, who was met by our protocol officer, refused to be given any special treatment, and along with three friends, lined up at the immigration counter like an ordinary foreign traveler.

Then, she checked-in at a mere three-star hotel near the Tamsui district where her friend lived, and politely declined any privileges which we could have accorded.

Old-timers in MECO were so impressed at her demonstrated humility, so unlike so-called government VIPs who prior to my stint there, expected preferential treatment.

But it did not come as a surprise to me.

When I was NFA administrator during the PNoy presidency, I wanted to make a courtesy call on then Mayor Inday Sara when I first visited our regional office in her city. I was told that she was doing barangay visits and will instead see me in the afternoon at the lobby of the Marco Polo Hotel where I was billeted.

I felt awkward, as being an appointive official, I should be the one making a call at her office.

At around four in the afternoon, she arrived, a sleeping child in her arms, and profusely apologized for not seeing me in City Hall. There was no “yaya” in tow, as she entered the lobby still carrying her daughter.

Not for her the trappings of “power.” We spoke for about half an hour where she assured me that our regional officials were always welcome to visit her and coordinate their programs with her.

I asked her to convey my best regards to her vice-mayor, Rodrigo Duterte, who was a long-time friend. She merely smiled and said “thank you.”

The simple demeanor, with absolutely no sense of entitlement left a deep impression on me.

It is widely accepted that the president would not have won as handily as he did if Mayor Inday Sara did not accede to the persistent efforts of friends like Senator Imee Marcos for her to play second fiddle in a united team.

It is thus understandable why the senator-sister continues to be supportive of the Vice President as the latter endured the demolition efforts against her of late.

Still and all, Inday Sara’s trust ratings are quite high, even if 2028 is still far off and anything can happen in the oft unpredictable world of Philippine politics.

There are three Cs that voters consider as metrics when they decide on their president: Competence, Character, and Compassion.

In 2015, we captured the Rodrigo Duterte persona in terms of Tapang at Malasakit: Courage (character) and Compassion. Davao City’s progress was testament to Competence.

Inday Sara needs to define herself more clearly given those three metrics.

Her competence as a member of the cabinet needs to be proven.

Character needs clarity, and the recent flip-flop on her posted, then deleted statement on the EDSA anniversary raises doubts on strength of character.

She has shown compassion oftentimes, and that last C is what matters most to the lowest of the “masa.”

Any person with moist eyes towards the presidency in 2028, assuming the system is not altered by then, will best measure up to these.


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