2016 Elections: It’s About You!

2016 Elections: It’s About You!

Feb 24, 2016

The coming elections is all about you! Yes you, the one who’s reading this article now, me the one who’s writing, and each Filipino. Chances are, you already have your presidential pick and as you watch the candidates debate, campaign and do all sorts of stuff, you will just see the factors that will confirm your initial pick, that’s what’s called Confirmation Bias in Behavioral Economics.

Let’s face it, whom we vote for is, in most cases, is an emotional rather than a rational exercise. So unless, a major upheaval happens before May 9, 2016, you would probably write the name of your current manok (chosen candidate) come D Day.

Did you watch the PiliPinasDebates 2016 last Sunday? I hope you did and here are some interesting takeaways I gathered while watching not just the debate but the ongoing social media conversations happening simultaneously and even after the debates.

  1. I applaud the effort to hold it in a venue other than NCR. I think it’s a good move to make everyone aware that the Philippines is not just Metro Manila.
  2. I saw a lot of comments that the 90, 60 and 30 second rules were too limiting such that the candidates were not able to explain their positions well. But I like those limits and I wish to keep them in the next debates. We should not expect to understand their entire platforms just by listening to televised debates, but also read up on them. The time limits are a good way to see how well each candidate truly knows what he’s talking about, and also allows us to see how they act under time pressure. Moreover, the limits also help keep our attention in this attention deficit and instant gratification
  3. An improvement on the part of Mike Enriquez is in order. He was the one making mistakes, that some tweets called him Steve Harvey. Even Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach reacted to Mike’s “confidently masikip” remark. John Nery was also too slow in reading the social media questions; but he speeded up after the break. Maybe it was pointed out to him. Jessica Soho was Jessica Soho, “confidently” hosting the show. So I would still give the event a Good overall rating. At least, they managed their time well, not as dragging and time consuming as local awards nights, impeachment hearings, etc.
  4. There were not enough “debates” that transpired. The most debate I saw was when Mar Roxas said in reaction to Jejomar Binay, “Pero hindi ba dalawa ang Makati? Makati ng mga Ayala na maunlad, maraming trabaho at Makati ng mga Binay na mahirap pa rin…” Maybe it’s not really in the Filipino culture to battle head on. Most of the time, we are paliguy-ligoy, beating around the bush.
  5. Several scores on the debates proliferated. I like what a friend said on his FB timeline, The answer to the question “Who performed best in the debate?” is quite obvious: Your candidate of course!”

And it’s true. We take in what each candidate says with our own biased lenses, our own filters. After the argument, rebuttal, opening or closing speech of your candidate, you say, “He/She nailed it!” But from the perspective of the other watchers who are not keen on your candidate, they say, “What a loser answer!” And it’s interesting to note that the supporters are very similar to their manok. To a certain extent, You are who you vote for! Let’s take a look at the candidates and their supporters.

Jejomar Binay

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In terms of appearance during the debate, I think he looks quite young for his age (73, turning 74 this year) with acceptable BMI (Body Mass Index – the measure of body fat based on height and weight), black hair (of course we know it’s dyed) and surprisingly tight skin (makes me believe what one of his make-up artists once said, “Nagpa-botox na po si VP Binay” smiley-163510_640). However, when he speaks, he’s not in command. He gets lost in his arguments. All he kept saying was, “Kasi po ang problema talaga ay mahina and enforcement, hindi decisive ang leadership. Ako po decisive ako…” He said this line (apparently targeted at Roxas) way too many times even if he was supposed to give his rebuttal to the other candidates. He didn’t use statistics to support his claims when he said, “Ewan ko kung saan kinuha ni Sec. Roxas ang statistics nya na yon (referring to Embo, Rembo barangays in Makati pointed out as still poor by Roxas). Yong Embo, naku masaya ho and mga tao doon, wala hong mahirap don. Naiangat po namin ang buhay ng mga taga-Makati.” Citing household income and other supporting statistics (if any) in those areas from the time he assumed office in 1986 up to their almost Pearl Anniversary (30 years) this year would have been an interesting fact for everyone to know.

On the matter of political dynasty, this time opposite Miriam Defensor Santiago, he also missed using an available ammunition to make a score against his opponent. He mentioned the son of Santiago who was a party-list representative, whom Miriam defended to have had just one term and is no longer in office. The best argument to that was Santiago’s VP running mate Bongbong Marcos! Wasted chance.

Binay would always deliver his lines with a half smile, not showing anger and probably the reason why people who know him or just met him would say, “Mabait naman siya.” 

Almost all social media reactions on Binay’s performance were poor. He was the consistent bottom in the social media surveys. This makes me assume that his supporters are not on social media. I hardly see anyone defending him, despite his popularity in the recent surveys.

I asked a couple of people about their reaction to Binay’s statements during the debate and an interesting one is this, “Alam mong nagsisinungaling sya (Binay defended his wealth as inheritance and product of their work over the years. He himself said he grew up poor and most part of his productive years were also in government). Siguro ‘yong supporters nya alam din, pero at least nabibigyan sila kahit papano. Anyway, ang tingin naman nila lahat ng politika corrupt, e di doon na lang sa nagbibigay sa kanila!”

Miriam Defensor Santiago

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She looked quite okay for a cancer patient during the debate but she was stuttering quite a number of times. She was still combative but several notches lower now. She was also incomprehensible in some of her arguments. In answer to the question on poverty, on how to make the economic growth we now experience more inclusive, she tried to explain, “…Lahat ng ito nangangailangan na ang ating taxes should either be lowered or raised. (stutter…) Wala tayong eskapo dyan. So we either have to consent to raise taxes or we should lower taxes, hindi naman papayag ang gobyerno na kulang sa pera ang ating budget. So the remedy will be to inc…decrease some taxes. For example, the estate tax should be erased. Panggulo lang yan e. Naging judge ako, marami akong estate taxes cases, sampung taon na hindi pa nere-resolvar. Pangalawa, real estate tax should be abolished, no, should be piggy backed with the real property tax on a national level kaya dalawang beses magbabayad, Kaya mahirap labanan ito, ang kailangan dyan is the will to win.” 

Honestly, I watched and listened to this part again and again and faithfully transcribed it to fully understand but honestly, I cannot really comprehend her point. But nobody dared to challenge and ask her what she meant by that mash-up. I liken it to the Emperor’s New Clothes syndrome. Miriam is a highly intelligent person with academic excellence awards from here and there, not just locally but internationally, and she really tells you in your face that she is brilliant, make no mistake about that. So to point out and ask “Ano daw? Di ko gets!” is to risk being called stupid.

No single candidate dared to cross her. In his opening line using the driver analogy, Roxas said something negative about each candidate except Santiago. Duterte went as far as endorsing her which brought to life the new love team #DuRiam. Poe always agreed with her, even with her ridiculous claim that the work of a senator is more difficult than that of a president. And of course, Binay failed to use that obvious BBM punch on her. They were either afraid of her (who isn’t?) or are being considerate because of her condition.

A lot of the social media reactions pointed out to the possibility of her medications taking their toll on her body. 

Rodrigo Duterte

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No matter how you feel about Duterte, he sure is adding excitement to the ongoing campaign, sometimes too much excitement, at times appalling, that may not be for general public consumption.

He was asked about his ways, “Inamin nyo po na kayo ay palamura, babaero, nakapatay na ng criminal, at naharap na sa kaso ng acts of lasciviousness. Sa inyong speech noong Nobyembre 22 beses kayo nagmura. Sa palagay nyo po ba dapat kayong tularan ng kabataang Pilipino at ito po ba ang mga kaugalian ng isang mamumuno sa Pilipinas?” 

He answered, “Most of them are true…I really go after the criminals as long as I do it in accordance with the law… So in my presidency, it will be bloody.” 

In answer to his acts of lasciviousness and girlfriends he said, “Meron lang akong inakbayan noon. Ang nanay ko ang nagalit… Well kung hiwalay ka sa asawa, anong gawin mo sarili mo?” (Cheers from the crowd) He went on, “Anong gawin ko itong karga-karga ko (points down). Hindi ko naman ipagbili to, ni hindi mo masangla e. Gamitin mo dapat, kung hindi, e mamatay ka!” 

After the rebuttal of Poe on pagpipigil, he went on to say, Lahat naman ito, sa kwarto yan. Hindi mo naman ginagawa sa…So what’s the problem? I said I had to do it. I’m separated from my wife. Yong isang asawa ko nasa America, yong nurse, so ano ka, in between those years…it’s biology. Actually it is biology!” 

The cultural machismo that it’s okay for men to be promiscuous it is at play here, as the crowd cheered on. Even Erap (another self-proclaimed chickboy) now appears tame as he was once quoted as saying, “It’s very local. If you are running for president, you should have finesse. He is just copying me, but I have finesse.”

The interesting thing about this Duterte phenomenon is that his supporters are quite avid. I observe that they are the ones who are willing to openly defend him, make excuses for him, when he cursed the well-loved Pope saying he didn’t really direct the curse to the pope, even if he clearly made the motion of calling on the phone saying, “Pope, P.I. ka, umuwi ka na!” They readily lambast his opponents to defend him, using similar cuss words.

From a marketing point of view, maybe it’s because Duterte is able to project his brand very clearly to the consumers. So you either love him or hate him, nothing in between. His brand is I am raw, macho and will kill to instill peace and order in 3-6 months!” I would have wanted to hear him narrate to us how he actually did it in Davao, and if he was really able to do it in that short period of time. In his decades of ruling Davao, when exactly did he restore peace and order? Like Binay, he also started in 1986 so they too are celebrating their 30th anniversary, just like EDSA.

His offer to clean up the Philippines in 3-6 months is so tempting, but my investor mindset is reminded of the quick return and no risk investments being peddled around. 

Grace Poe

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Grace Poe is grace under pressure. As I watch her from one speech to another, I am more convinced of what a friend said, “Back in our high school days, she was the Debate Team captain in Assumption, the year Ateneo lost to them!” Her voice has a soothing tone and she’s able to articulate her points. Her non-intimidating looks can be disarming and puts her listeners in a more receptive stance. She is your dream coachee as she is able to parrot the lines that you just taught her and probably deliver them in a way even better than the originator of the idea.

When asked how her government will ensure that there would be food for the 2.6 million hungry families (per SWS survey), she said, “ Unang una po ay ang libreng pananghalian sa public schools dahil yan ay deretso sa tyan ng mga bata. Hindi po matututo ang mga bata kung sila ay nagugutom. Ang agrkiltura ay kailangan ding bigyan ng subsidiya sa irigasyon, mag-replant ng coconut trees, gamitin ang P70 billion na coconut funds para magbigay ng scholarships sa coconut planters. (I wonder if she meant the children of the coconut planters?)…Huwag pabayaan ang agrikultura habang tayo ay nag-aangkat.” 

She is able to deliver her lines with composure. She probably adheres to the saying “Talo ang pikon!” In answer to Roxas’ “Paano mo malalaman kung binobola ka na?” she said, “Alam ko naman kung binobola ako o hindi, kahit maikli ang aking panunungkulan sa gobyerno…” and went on to enumerate the cases she investigated on DILG and DOTC where she pointed out that the services were lacking, still keeping her tone of voice in check.

I would have wanted to hear her defend why she renounced her Filipino citizenship and when exactly did she re-acquire it, as there are some inconsistencies in her dates. I am more interested in this compared to her being a foundling which raises the question of her being natural born (I am not belittling this aspect and I am not an expert of the law.) primarily because she didn’t have any control in what happened to her at birth, while her renouncing her citizenship was her own free will. This is not to say that acquiring American citizenship per se is wrong. Pinoy pa? It’s very prevalent in our culture to dream of that American citizenship but I think the allegiance to the Philippines has to weigh in significantly when it comes to the highest post in the land.

Mar Roxas

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Mar Roxas is always ready with his data even without codigo because they’re all in his head. He doesn’t look at notes when he enumerates them because he knows them by heart. He possesses presidentiable qualities but he seems to be a hard product to sell to the general public. He shows you his composure and gives you all the data to explain how PPPs are painstakingly done and refuses to make empty political promises, and he gets called teka-teka and indecisive. He cites the tangible improvements in the economy of which he took part of, particularly Daang Matuwid and people criticize him for not standing on his own (maybe he should drop that term and come up with an English version just to differentiate himself). He shows his human and angry side, “Sasampalin ko rin sya!” or “Sasamahan ko pa kayong bumili ng droga sa Davao.” and he gets insulted and cursed by the supporters of his opponent, and sadly, not the defense but the disapproval of his reserved and quiet supporters. So what is he to do?

He also carries the burden of the incumbent. Elections are opportunities for change and since no administration is exempt from lack of this and lack of that, no matter what GDP growth rates and investment grades you have achieved, the administration’s candidate is open to all sorts of criticisms. Take note that in the debate, he was the only one being opposed by the other candidates, precisely because the others are offering change and improvement while he cannot criticize the administration.

Do people hate it that he was born rich and smart? Is he what Pinoys call hindi ko ma-reach, hindi ako maka-relate? Maybe. In this haciendero culture, he can’t even play the role of the benevolent landlord who gives KBL (kasal, binyag, libing) gifts to the poor because maybe he doesn’t. Sure he has given a lot of his time to his work in government but maybe that’s not tangible enough to the masses. Or maybe, he’s just not gifted with charisma. Does he have a sense of humor? He tries to fist bump with a kid in his campaign video, and he looks awkward. He carries a sack of onions and he’s trying hard.

His opening line during the debate was an attempt to simplify the decision-making in our multi-party system (it’s harder to make a choice when there are more than two). He said, “Kanino mo ipagkakatiwala ang pagmamaneho sa yong mga anak? 1.) Sa isang taong may mga kaso ng pagnanakaw? 2.) Sa isang mainitin ang ulo na maaaring maaksidente? 3.) Sa isang ngayon pa lang natututong magmaneho? o 4.) Sa isang taong matagal na po ninyong kilala na nanilbihan at ni minsan hindi kayo pinahamak, pinagsamantalahan, at may magandang rekomendasyon pa sa dati nyang pinagtrabahuan?”  I wonder if this connected with the people? I think it’s a good analogy. His enunciation was correct, he was composed but somehow, he cannot tug the regular person’s heart. You need to turn on your cerebral faculties to appreciate him.

Go back to Basics:

Choosing among the five is indeed a challenge. Maybe it would have been easier if we were required to vote straight, at least with their respective Vice Presidential candidates: Binay-Honasan, Santiago-Marcos, Duterte-Cayetano, Poe-Escudero, Roxas-Robredo. But no, we are free to pick from a dizzying buffet of choices. So again I offer the following guidelines in choosing our next leaders. (Click link for complete steps.) And when I say this, I wish to stress that you should start by looking at yourself because It’s about you.

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And use this score card in grading them for the three most important traits of a leader: Integrity, Competence and Energy/Ability to Empower. And remember, even if one has the last two, but if Integrity is missing, it will be dangerous to all of us.

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  1. I will be a speaker at the Truly Rich Club’s Wealth Summit 2016 entitled Millionaire Makers on March 4-5, 2016. Click this link to register. http://trulyrichclub.com/wealthsummit/Image 07
  1. If you want to learn more about how you can exercise your right to vote, attend this initiative by Chris Tiu and his friends at Charis Foundation. They have an annual leadership program and their underlying objective is to provide values formation to young leaders who will eventually become key influencers in society.Image 08
  2. If you want to learn more about parenting, join the Parenting Academy 2 entitled Parenting to Build Family Resilience led by Dr. Honey Carandang on February 27, 2016 at the St. Luke’s Medical Center Global City. Click link to register http://mlacinstitute.com

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  1. Watch out for the next presidential and vice-presidential debates:Image 10

Rose Fres Fausto is the author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom Rose Fres Fausto. She is the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook and You Tube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom. 

ATTRIBUTIONS: Images from cosmicblague.com, feelgrafix.com, theatheistdoc.ph, screen grab from GMA, screenshots from Youtube (Aaron Vergara)

To watch the video of the PiliPinasDebates2016, click this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-btMAEnm6uM&feature=youtu.be