The Villar Conundrum

Do you trust Manny Villar (to be the next president of the Philippines) ?

The answer to this question is the stumbling block of the Villar campaign and must keep the candidate awake most nights. That many Filipinos are undecided, at best, about how they would reply if asked is why Villar trails at the polls, albeit closely nipping at the heels of Noynoy.

He certainly has a reputation for being an astute, even ruthless, businessman. This is partly because an instinctive mistrust of the very wealthy. He could not have gotten his fortune without having done something bad, the thinking goes. But this only accounts for a small percentage of his detractors.

The main reason is that he has more than a few skeletons rattling in his closet, the scariest being the C-5 scandal. Thus, despite all the money and effort poured into his run he has to play catch-up in the homestretch. And why the smear campaign about his being “Villaroyo” has taken its toll.

But Villar also has a lot of things going for him, which is why he has a good chance of defeating Noynoy Aquino and his fearsome yellow army. And I don’t mean just his money. At a certain point in the election (and I believe this point has been reached), money becomes less important. All the money in the world will not get you elected if you’re truly unelectable. Cash becomes critical as election day nears only as a means of ensuring the party machinery is kept well greased and to keep your capos and foot soldiers happy and motivated on the day itself. You will need warm bodies and money to safeguard your vote. On this score I believe Noynoy and Villar have achieved a rough parity.

What Villar has going for him are three things.

First, he has a compelling story: the poor boy who pulls himself up by his (rubber) sandal straps and attains material success beyond the wildest dreams of most Filipinos. Even considering the propaganda, hype and bullshit inherent in electioneering, his storyline resonates on a basic level with a lot of voters. His overcoming the limitations imposed by unfortunate circumstances can be duplicated, he says, in small and big ways if only one has diligence, resilience and faith in the Almighty. In truth, he has gone a longer way and by his own dogged efforts than any of the presidential aspirants. Even if we consider the allegation that he was not really as poor as his campaign claims he was.

Secondly, he has proven administrative capabilities and leadership qualities. This is immediately apparent in the way his campaign has been run: professionally and effectively. That he had money helped, of course. But he used it well.

And to be fair, one can see that it is not just money animating the Villar campaign. There is as much intelligence and commitment there. He got his message out early. The dispatches from the Villar camp were concise and easy to grasp, unified by a clear and believable theme. He built alliances which, although they raised a lot of eyebrows at the start, appear to be holding up. To me, this indicates excellent executive abilities which are indispensable if one is to run a country as fractious as others.

Finally, he appears to be person with genuine integrity that has earned the grudging respect of many who initially mistrusted him. He can say his piece calmly and without rancor. His demeanor has not changed despite the mud flung at him from all sides. And he has refused to repay in kind.

One can also see the kind of person he is by how he interacts with his family, his wife and children.

Of course, personal decency alone does not a good president make. But coupled with his other qualities, a convincing argument for a Villar presidency can be made.

The fear of him turning out to be Villaroyo will linger. He will have a lot of trust-building to do if he ever gets to Malacanang. And the cynic in me recognizes the possibility he might indeed transform into the Frankenstein monster he is held out to be by his enemies. But for now, I really don’t see it happening.

A point on a matter which I consider a non-issue, with all due respect to my esteemed Economics professor, Dr. Winnie Monsod. Much has been said about his having used the story of his late brother, who died in early childhood, in his ads. Whatever else can be said about the embellishments and dramatic touches given his brother’s dying, it points to a fundamental and undeniable truth: that for a majority of our countrymen death is a constant possibility for want of adequate medical care.

And as for the questionable tack of using a dead person to further one’s aims, Noynoy is guilty of this as well. Even more so, as he has been using the memory of two dead people to drive his campaign, Ninoy and Cory, tragically felled by an assassin’s bullet and cancer, respectively. Only this time, Aquino wants us to believe that by reason his parents’ untimely deaths, destiny has conferred upon him the mantle of leadership.

Which is the more insidious and shameless untruth ?

12 thoughts on “The Villar Conundrum”

  1. Ninoy’s and Cory’s deaths are public knowledge; both were public figures and led political lives. Digging up one’s own private tragedies and making them public for political propaganda is an entirely different kind of animal. A stinking, low-life, bottom-feeding kind.

    Don’t rag on Noynoy for being a spawn of heroes. Of course we know that doesn’t make him one (I don’t know where you got the assumption that he thinks it’s his birth right. No basis, attorney.) What we also know is that Aquino has the legacy and the good name of his parents to uphold and protect. That’s the point of “using” these dead people — to emphasize that Noynoy will not do anything to besmirch their good name and will lead in the decent and moral manner that these heroes taught him all his life and will forever be beholden to the people for their trust, a trust he will never betray. And we believe him, in a way Manny Villar can only dream of when he tries to sell his “mahirap” persona.

  2. “I don’t know where you got the assumption that he thinks it’s his birth right. No basis, attorney.”

    Mr. Dela Cruz, let me just cite to you one example of how Noynoy’s supporters express the belief that solely by reason of his parents’ untimely deaths, destiny has conferred upon him the mantle of leadership. I quote from Conrad De Quiros’ column of August 10, 2009 in the Inquirer:

    “Who better to carry on the fight of Ninoy and Cory than Noynoy? Who better to keep the spark of the EDSA people power revolt alive and vital and raging than Noynoy?

    Cory inherited the mantle when her husband died. History summoned her to do it, there was no one else. And she rose to untold heights. Noynoy inherited the mantle when his mother died. History summons him to do it, there is no one else. He will rise to untold heights.

    It is his destiny.”

    “Noynoy inherited the mantle when his mother died. History summons him to do it, there is no one else. He will rise to untold heights.

    It is his destiny.”

    How does that sound to you ?

  3. Sounds to me you got a guy named Conrad de Quiros confused with Noynoy Aquino. They’re two different people. One has more hair and the other has yet to say he thinks it’s his birthright to become president.

  4. Hi, Noemi.

    “Only this time, Aquino wants us to believe that by reason his parents’ untimely deaths, destiny has conferred upon him the mantle of leadership.”

    People who have this thing about Noynoy just assume he’s good for nothing else and people who will vote for him are lost, unthinking souls.

    I’m voting for Noynoy because I believe he has a strong sense of decency and moral fortitude. He has a strong sense of “hiya”. I believe him when he says he will hold himself accountable and will not betray the public’s trust. I believe he will not tarnish his parents’ legacy. I think he is the only one among the candidates who cannot be suspected of cutting a deal with GMA. Moreover, I believe he is the only one who will hold GMA and her cohorts accountable for their misdeeds to the full extent of the law.

    As for his “lack of competence?” Well, who among the candidates have had any prior experience leading a nation of 90M? It’s nothing that would compare to anything they’ve done before. Not even close. Pare-pareho lang mangangapa yan. In the end, what will guide their every move will be their moral compass and I believe in that regard, Noynoy has his bearings straight.

  5. I respect your criteria, JDELACRUZ. I have my own criteria.

    I check the track record if the candidate did something in his previous positions like bills passed or holding a position that involves managing people or taking action on projects. It gives me a clue on the character and competency .

    Character, competency, coherent platforms and clear vision are the criteria that I look for in a presidential candidate. I took time to analyze their platforms. I am fortunate because I interviewed Villar, Villanueva, De los Reyes, Perlas, Teodoro, Aquino.

    The present times call for a tough administrator, statesman and economic leader. That was the critical factor for me.

    In the end, it is the voter who decides but hopefully based on good informed choices.

  6. Some of the past leaders of this county have been too competent in my book. Marcos and GMA were never accused of being incompetent or lacking in managerial ability or economic wisdom.

    The present times call for someone with moral ascendancy. I’ve been unfortunate to be exposed to corruption, from esteemed CA justices to the lowliest SK kagawad. It is the cruelest form of injustice and it’s what eating us up and bearing on us down. I’m so sick and tired of it that moral ascendancy has become my top criteria for a leader Platforms and mission vision statements and programs all look good on paper, but without a sense of decency and justice, all of them can and will be used for personal gain and we will end up being screwed again.

  7. it’s worth voting for noynoy because he is the only candidate who has put topmost priority to fight and stop corruption. corruption afterall is the MAIN problem of our country. not all the good economic and other programs will work as good if corruption continues in our system.

  8. Dami accomplishments kuno maitim naman ang budhi, kung wala namang inisip kundi ang magpayaman, oportunista sa posisyon, wag na lang.

  9. @monet, more bills and accomplishments? yes, substance is different.. How many projects did he implement or bills passed that benefited himself or his business.

    Most Filipinos today are tired of corruption, they want a leader with delicadeza, Not someone who choose not to answer questions thrown at them. People are tired of the current administration avoiding controversies & litigation – exactly what Villar and his cohorts did during the last days in Senate.

  10. If you don’t like Noy to win, vote for Villar. And VICE VERSA, because no matter what those idealists and romantics say about your vote being your own and choosing the one you think is right no matter what, this is a 2-man race. Sorry pero ganun talaga.

    You might think Gibo or Gordon are the best among the candidates but the way they stack up in the surveys, they may as well not be considered candidates kasi di sila mananalo. Statistically impossible. You may just as well vote for Chiz or Randy David or CJ Panganiban or whoever is the best technocrat out there, magagaling sila, super, kaso pare-pareho silang di kandidato.

    Dalawa lang po pinagpipilian kung tutuusin. Kung ayaw mo manalo yung isa, dun ka na sa kabila kahit di mo masyado type. Yun lang ang choices mo. The rest aren’t really choices, the rest are a waste of your vote.

    Pragmatic lang po.

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