Tomorrow, May 9, is the Filipino people’s rendezvous with history.
The choices we make will determine the direction of our country for the next six years, and even beyond.
Indeed, the current electoral campaign is one of the most divisive and venomous in our nation’s political history, to the extent that families and friends have been driven apart and publicly condemn each other’s political convictions.
The massive deception and fabrication, especially on social media, have provoked hostilities and profound discord among our countrymen.
It will be difficult for our next president to carry out his national agenda under a highly polarized nation, especially with the magnitude of problems and challenges facing our country, like the post Covid-19 recovery, the P13-trillion domestic and foreign borrowings our country incurred due to the pandemic, the lingering dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea, and the effects of the seeming protracted war in Ukraine.
Our next president’s first order of business, therefore, will be to “bind up the nation’s wounds” and lay the basis for economic, political and social reforms that will endure. Once victory at the polls is established, our next leader must immediately begin the process of national healing and reconciliation by reaching out to his or her opponents in the presidential contest, so he could “hit the ground running” once he assumes the highest office of the land.
We earlier suggested in this column that the next president may consider recruiting in his administration “the best and the brightest” in our political parties, civil society, business, academe, and other sectors of our society.
We said in our earlier column that building new political coalitions and sharing of executive power, just as power is shared by majority and minority parties in the House of Representatives and Senate, will enable the next president, the next administration, and our nation, to focus, undistracted by partisan concerns, in carrying out his policies and programs.
This is the second time in our country’s history that 10 candidates are running for president – – Vice President Leni Robredo, former Senator Bongbong Marcos, Senators Manny Pacquiao and Ping Lacson, Mayor Isko Moreno, former national security adviser Bert Gonzales, former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, labor leader Leody de Guzman, businessman Faisal Mangondato, and lawyer-doctor Jose Montemayor.
The first time was in 1998, which we contested and we came out second to the popular vice president Joseph Estrada, in a highly competitive presidential race.
The eight other candidates, who were among the notable leaders in our country, were Senators Raul Roco, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, and Juan Ponce Enrile; Defense Secretary Renato de Villa, Cebu Governor Lito Osmena, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office Chairman Manoling Morato, and lawyer Santiago Dumlao.
Estrada sailed home victorious, but we were honored to receive the second highest number of votes.
We are pleased to note that as then speaker of the House of Representatives, together with then Senate President Neptali Gonzales, we expedited the canvass of the election results to put an end to dangerous speculations of a no-proclamation scenario before June 30. And in a triumph of constitutional succession, we and Senate President Gonzales raised Estrada’s hand as the president-elect of the Philippines.
We wish to greet all Filipino mothers and the mothers around the world a Happy Mother’s Day.
We wish to especially greet our beloved wife Gina, our family’s ‘Rock of Gibraltar, a former two-term congresswoman and twice president of lady legislators, charity worker, and champion of the welfare of abused women, children, and abandoned elderly; as well as our daughters Sandra, Leslie, and Vivian, stepdaughter Carissa, and daughter-in-law Karen.