Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Ledesma: The presidentiables

wednesday, September 05, 2007
Ledesma: The presidentiables
By Jun Ledesma

SENATOR Richard "Dick" Gordon is not keeping secret his ambition to be the next president of the Philippines. And why should he? Given the names, qualifications and winnability of those who desire to be on top of the political totem pole Gordon has all the necessary attributes for the post.

Let's look at each of the so-called presidentiables.

Manny Villar. Now Senate president, he wants to picture himself as the boy from the palengke of Tondo to the millionaires' row of Alabang, to Congress and then the Senate presidency.

He was pictured as the "masipag and matiyaga."

He made good in real estate although some quarters are saying that his successful political career is what propped his business.

Villar's however does not have a macro perspective of the country in that his interest is so confined in Metro Manila where his businesses and political constituents are. He has very little vision for Mindanao. His knowledge of the region is confined within what he reads in the newspapers given the fact that he comes to Mindanao only during election season.

Mar Roxas. His only asset is his name and Korina Sanchez. The fact that he is not married up to this time elicits some negative impressions. Born with a silver spoon in the mouth he wants to package himself as a rich boy to "Mr. Palengke."

Of course that's all suave advertising. Of all the presidentiables I think he is the weakling. He is a populist politician but limp as a leader.

Ping Lacson. Everybody thought he is the reason why FPJ lost. True to form, he is engrossed with investigation rather than legislation. In a nation enamored with leaders who can face and exterminate deadly gangs like "Kuratong Baleleng" and Bacchanalian womanizers, Ping has the popularity of his former boss and idol Joseph Estrada.

He is however haunted by the ghost of Bubby Dacer, the fugitives, and the crack at the FBI eavesdropping records in Philippine politics.

Dick Gordon. A Red Cross volunteer. He turned the Subic wasteland (after the US pullout) into a vibrant economic estate almost single-handedly. The only senator who shows up unexpectedly in every tragedy - natural disasters and war - wherever and whenever.

Next to GMA, he is the most well traveled political leader. But unlike GMA his travels are confined within the Philippines. No wonder why he has better grasp of the problems and prospects in Mindanao more than the rest of the senators combined.

I am most impressed by Senator Gordon's straightforwardness and pragmatic solutions on the complex problems of Mindanao. In an intimate exchange of ideas when we had a rare opportunity to speak with Gordon, I realized the whale of difference between him and Senator Villar.

Years back when he was Tourism Secretary, Gordon was laughed at when he commented that he will make Sulu and Tawi Tawi tourist destinations.

I too laughed at his sick optimism. But having listened to him, the idea is not at all impossible to achieve.

Last election, I attended a press forum of Senator Villar. I want to assess as to how well is he grounded on the problems besetting Mindanao and what are some of the legislative agenda he would initiate to correct the iniquitous inequality in the dispersal of government development fund and services that had always placed Mindanao in the last priority. Villar's response was short and evasive.

He said that investors are evading Mindanao because of the peace and order condition in the region. What is needed is to modernize the military so that the peace and order problems can be addressed. Period. I asked Gordon exactly the same question. His response was out of the (politicians) box.

If he has his way, he will send the navy ships to Jolo and Basilan to ferry all their products to Manila where the market is. He cited that at this time of the year, mangosteen and lanzones are bought by middlemen at P5.00 per kilo. These are sold at premium price in Manila for not less that P60 per kilo. Despite the abundance of fish in the Jolo sea, the fishermen only catch what they need for the day. If they are provided vessels that could transport their harvests to the markets, like Manila or Metro Cebu, eventually Jolowanos will live a life of bonanza!

Senator Gordon's vision for Mindanao starts with simple programs that immediately address the problem. And his solutions are diametrically opposed to Villar's imperial Manila-oriented ideas. Manny wants to buy more military hardware to that it can effectively fight the rebels.

Dick wants to use the naval ships transport goods from Mindanao to the prime markets in Metro Manila so that the rebels, farmers and fisher folks will realize a bigger profits from their harvests. Now who can argue with that.

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