Those who have dismissed the furor over that “Kinse Anyos” ad as of no moment, the great issue of the time being who (or what) will be President of the Republic come June this year, should think twice.
The controversy is growing as the irresistible force of public outrage meets the immovable object called the profit motive. The more the controversy grows, the more is it inviting responses one can truly describe as exaggerated. As the water’s roiled and muddied by the day, the possible end result could be the issue’s being buried under such a ton of irrelevant debris it will be business as usual for Distileria Limtuaco and its ads. Should that happen, the prospect could be more rather than less sleaze in the already sleazy and sexist world of Philippine advertising.
Like their former colonials, the Filipinos, Americans will also go to the polls this year, though some five months later, in November. Re-electionist George W. Bush will most likely go up against Democratic Party Senator John Kerry.
Nobody wants a debate he thinks he can
The primary lessons of People Power 1, the 18th anniversary of which falls this week, were twofold. The first is that the failure of Philippine political institutions can provoke citizen outrage enough for them to overthrow governments. The second is that vast sectors of the citizenry view human rights as a value worth defending, and even risking their lives for.
Presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. has released to the media a list of economic and governance experts his campaign spokesman, Rep. Francis Escudero, has described as “the most potent group of economists and planners that can be formed.”
Note the “potent” part. What the Poe camp has put together is a group of advisers, not an economic and governance platform. The specific programs are yet to be formed; they will come later, when—or if—Poe is elected President.
(A longer version of this piece was delivered February 13, 2004 at the Third UP public lectures on the Philippine Presidency and Administration)
The arroyo government came to power in 2001 on the twin mandate of efficient and honest government and the rejection of traditional politics in favor of the new.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was aware of that mandate, and it was in fact the main theme of her inaugural speech on January 21, 2001. Among other promises, she committed herself to the development of a politics that would focus on party-based platforms rather than personalities, and the making of a government that would try its best to address at least some of the most urgent problems of the country, particularly its poverty.
The story appeared in the entertainment pages where it belonged, but was far from entertaining.
Interviewed by an Inquirer entertainment reporter, film director Carlos “Carlitos” Siguion-Reyna and actor Richard Gomez had almost the same message. A Supreme Court decision on the Fernando Poe Jr. citizenship case adverse to the actor could have dire consequences.
“Political prostitute” doesn’t quite cut it as a metaphor for politicians, particularly the Filipino variety.
A prostitute dispenses sexual favors for cash, and in that enterprise ends up with multiple partners. In certain societies like ours where the self-righteous reign, prostitutes are derided as destroyers of morality and as enemies of the family because they supposedly lead otherwise honest and faithful husbands into sin.