The Vice-Presidential Choices 2022

The Vice-Presidential Choices 2022 was first published by The Manila Times on 3 November 2022. – Admin

IS it about fortifying ideas? Or is it about consolidating forces?

Following my broad presentation of presidential candidates the other week, I shall now continue and try to heckle ourselves with the choices we have for vice president.

the vice presidential choices 2022 - tito sotto - ingmingaberia.com (photo by CNN Philippines)
Senate President Tito Sotto leads early pre-poll surveys for vice presidential elections in 2022. (Photo by photo by CNN Philippines)

A quick look at some of the running-in-tandem sets appear to carry their respective strategic intent. Except probably for the Leody de Guzman-Walden Bello pair, the common underlying objective appears to be the consolidation of constituency support that each one can manage to bring into its own orbit of influence. I refer to the early favorites (according to published surveys), namely dela Rosa-Go, Lacson-Sotto, Moreno-Ong, Pacquiao-Atienza and Robredo-Pangilinan.

That said, let me now paint, again in broad strokes, my appraisal of the merits or demerits of each vice- presidential candidate.

  1. Walden Bello

His resume debunks the lazy notion (something which I made up for myself when I was younger) that an American education serves to propagate American imperialism. After having earned a PhD in sociology from Princeton University in the US, Bello, in the words of the Socialist Worker (2016), has become “one of the most articulate and prolific voices on the international left” and “has devoted most of his life to fighting imperialism and corporate globalization.”

Reports have it that he stole some 3,000 pages of World Bank confidential documents so that he could prove that Marcos, facilitated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, was a thief. He later wrote Development Debacle: the World Bank in the Philippines in 1982. I got a copy of this book from F. Sionil Jose’s Solidaridad bookshop in Ermita, Manila, when I was taking up graduate courses in public administration at nearby UP Manila. I could tell the professors at the UP College of Public Administration, whose faculty Bello would later join, had a point in making his book a must reading.

When Marcos was done with his stealing spree, and a new government was flapping its wings to fly, Bello and his leftist comrades found themselves enchanted by the democratic bliss they enjoyed that they had a hard time figuring out whether electoral politics was now an option for them or not. Even as the 1987 Constitution had cultivated the field for a thousand political ideas to bloom by establishing a multi-party system, along with the baby-sitting of party-list organizations, Bello and his kind remained inhibited. They probably analyzed their situation well.

The Cory government that supplanted Marcos had this notion that the democratic ocean it created was big enough for everyone to waddle in. That notion eventually lost followers. Cabinet members with leftist badges irked the military establishment, and soon Cory had to fend off coup attempts every time she got up from bed.

Thirty years later, the reluctance by the extreme left to fully untangle itself from the armed component of its social dissent resurfaced when the Duterte government, which started pretty much in the same way that Cory did by giving leftists some roles of consequence in the cabinet, went on to address the compatibility problem with military solutions. It has to end like it did in the euphoric days of Cory: nobody crosses the military.

It is a wonder why the Communist Party of the Philippines, of which Bello was once a member, had not invested in their sons and daughters being groomed to become Philippine Military Academy cadets themselves. Instead of recruiting rebels whose wretched lives have been exploited for more than half a century, they could have, in that span of time, helped assemble a phalanx of generals, about half of them raised as leftists from the time they were born. Why plant guerrillas in the countryside when they can take command posts right in Camp Aguinaldo?

Once more it is a lazy notion that I made up for myself when I grew older, after having read Bello’s work.

Should he make it and become vice president, I will expect him to provoke a riot of analytical binges over ogres that never die, of why it pays to be on the side of the rich and powerful, and of why the oppressed become oppressors themselves when it is their turn to govern.

  1. Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go

Loyalty has its reward. And in Bong Go’s case, being rewarded with a national position does not necessarily come from being loyal to the nation, but rather by being loyal to a person.

Now he wants more ballyhoo and shebang. As he aspires to become the second highest official of the land, he banks on the persisting marketability of the same principality that propped him up from a photo-bombing confidante to a key dispenser of political power and publicly funded resources.

What, so far, has he accomplished aside from being the keeper of secrets and power traffic enforcer?

He is known to be the prime mover behind the rise of “Malasakit Centers” throughout the country. It ought to be more than a public relations success, however: as a re-imagined health service delivery structure, its impact on a pandemic-ravaged nation must be enormous. What it lacks beyond the hype — the key to justify itself as more than an ornamental bureaucratic contraption — can be found in how freely it has framed the concept that underpins the creation. It seems to miss the idea that the entire apparatus of government has been designed as a Malasakit Center, one with adequate authority and resources to respond to people in need — that is, contextualized in a world where, driven by the collective impulse for social equity, those who have less in life can have more in law.

Go’s context yields to limitless possibilities on account of the kind of power he wields. Given his position — as a legislator and government official of whatever kind — it seems there is nothing that he cannot do. Now, the question that arises almost by itself is: Can he be as effective under changing contexts? It is all speculation at this point, but one can expect the erosion of power from the principality that brought him to where he is now.

He and his handlers will need to cope with managing change — with familiar faces whose alliances they must keep and with new ones whose friendship they may need to develop. In the middle of this underworld is the frenzied reallocation of power among themselves.

To be continued… The Vice-Presidential Choices 2022

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