“There has got to be a more rational way of doing things in this country.”
During the course of the snap-election campaign of 1985-1986, President Ferdinand Marcos often threw the following question, delivered in Filipino, at his campaign crowds: “Yang Cory Aquino na yan, sino ba ang mga tauhan niya?” Cory Aquino, the widow of the assassinated Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., was, of course, Mr. Marcos’s one-on-one opponent in that election.
So President Marcos wanted to know who the supporters of her candidacy were. Cory Aquino was eager to oblige, at a luncheon meeting of this country’s leading businessmen at the now-gone Hotel Intercontinental in 1986, the opposition’s Presidential candidate presented to the nation – and specifically who, Mrs. Aquino said, were her advisers. The group was healed by the Harvard Business School-educated president of Benguet Consolidated Inc., Jaime V. Ongpin and included the chairman or CEOs (chief executive officers) of some of the nation’s largest financial manufacturing and infrastructure establishments and its biggest professional firms.
Ferdinand Marcos was unimpressed: the woman who his camp were dismissing as ‘that walang alam housewife’ had managed to attract to her candidacy many of the nation’s best and brightest. Mr. Marcos’s economic managers were not surprised, Prime Minister/Minister of Finance Cesar Virata and his professional-minded colleagues were well aware that the great majority of their peers had become very disillusioned by the declining quality of President Marcos’s governance.
The nation was impressed by Cory Aquino’s presentation and by the high quality of her corps of advisers. Those men and women would, following victory, head the departments of her Cabinet. Everyone in the Hotel Intercontinental audience sensed that her Jaime V. Ongpin would become Mrs. Aquino’s first Secretary of Finance, and they drew a lot of confidence from that expectation. Mr. Ongpin did become the Secretary of Finance.
That was 1986. This country had an essentially two-party political system – the party in power and the opposition party – and the processes of personal political identification and party affiliation were clearer and less complicated. When Cory Aquino pointed to a group of men and women as her advisers, one could safely expect that those men and women would, in the event of victory, become members of her official family.
Today, 36 years later, the situation is vastly different. The introduction of the multi-party system by the 1987 Constitution has produced the state of affairs where all sorts of political-party formulations emerge from the woodwork during every presidential election. The additional permutations of candidate substitutions, cross-party team-ups, and jointly-adopted candidates have resulted in the near-total distortion of a once-smoothly-functioning system.
In the same manner that they knew, in 1986, who would be helping Cory quino run the government in the event of her victory – who would be her Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Secretary of Finance, Secretary of Agriculture, and so on – so the Filipino people need to know the kind of men and women who will be running the affairs of this country after June 30,2022. Truth to tell, the way things are, voting for President in the coming election is much like throwing darts at a dartboard. There has got to be a more rational way of doing things in this country.
The Filipino people have a right to know, for a change, how their country will be run after June 30, 2022. During the remaining months of the campaign the Presidential candidates will be doing the nation – and their own selves – a big favor by providing an idea of how they will be going about choosing the men and women who will be taking care of the nation’s concerns in the nexts six years.
In the process, they will be able to attract greater political support.