Administration presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II asks us, those whom he asks to vote for him, whether we would want a foreigner for a president.
He is, of course, referring to his opponent, Senator Grace Poe Llamanzares, who topped the senatorial race in 2013 and is now leading the presidential poll surveys.
Poe is facing numerous challenges to her citizenship and residency. As an infant she was found abandoned at a church and later on adopted by prominent movie stars. She then migrated to the United States, married an American citizen, and then sought to regain her Filipino citizenship upon taking on a job here under the Aquino administration.
While the Senate Electoral Tribunal has ruled in her favor in one case, there remain others to hurdle. One thing is clear now: more people are wondering whether Poe is Filipino enough to aspire for the highest position in the land.
It’s not only Roxas who is now capitalizing on Poe’s legal woes. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte says he finally made up his mind to run for president because he could not accept that an American might be president. Let’s hope he does not change his mind on this yet again.
But it was Roxas (and his patron, President Aquino) who, months ago, had a very long and public courtship of Ms. Poe, whom they tagged as being an ally in the pursuit of the straight path. It was obvious they wanted her “yes” so badly. She was polite and thankful, but she knew she was being courted for the boost she could give Roxas’ lackluster campaign.
And so she said no. For the Liberals, that must have stung.
This is the same person Roxas is now deriding as a foreigner, someone not at all fit to be the nation’s next leader. At least, in Duterte’s case, Poe was the one who had wanted to be his running mate, or so he claims.
We leave to the courts the decision on the petitions against the senator, and to the nation the verdict on whether renouncing one’s citizenship and reacquiring it when convenient amounts to lack of patriotism. What is glaring, however, is the hypocrisy displayed by the self-righteous administration in wooing somebody from whose acquiescence it stood to gain, only to talk ill of that same person as a jilted suitor would.
And we thought all these candidates wanted an issues-based campaign where they would refrain from attacking one another and instead focus on presenting the best roadmap to the people.
So much for elevating the level of discourse. The messiahs, the underdogs, the tough talkers–those to whom substance, respect and fair play are foreign–are ruling the day.