I’ve been an OFW half my adult life. I am used to this for I came from a family of people who seeks greener pastures halfway around the world. So as to say I am not a registered voter and (I hope this would not sound offensive) not the least perturbed as to what is happening to the Philippines is understandable. Or so I thought.
When you are abroad, it is easy to see what is wrong with our country and what we are doing wrong compared to the other nations. But what struck and amazes me is how Filipinos are disciplined abroad. No jaywalkers, no litterers, not one is rude to the policemen. But when these Filipinos are back to the Philippines, it’s as if a switch is flipped and they follow the norm even if they already knew better. It’s sad to think we can’t be proper in our own backyard where we really need to make a difference.
I used to work in our airport and I saw the changes living overseas does to my fellow Filipinos. I once had a passenger, a mother and his young son. I overlooked they are not Philippine passport holder and asked them to pay the travel tax. When she said she hasn’t paid any travel tax ever since she started travelling I double checked and saw their passport. I apologised for my mistake and she then turned to her son. “See son? It is better to be a citizen anywhere in the world than here.” I am deeply offended but as I experienced working and living abroad, I realised I could not blame her because like her, I’m slowly turning into a bigot myself. It’s hard not to especially after experiencing tax-free living, honest cab drivers, metro and bus stops in every corner, bribe-free government, toothpaste in tubes and canned corned beef with keys.
But as we know, all good things come to an end. There are only several graduations, birthdays and christenings to miss a heart could bear. Sooner we will all yearn to go back home. (And sometimes we have to because we are made to).
With uncertainties still looming in the horizon for OFWs working in the GCC, going back home to the Philippines became an immediate reality to most. Now that it is almost election time, the future of these OFWs returning back home lies in your indelible ink stained hand.
Full disclosure: I’m not a registered voter. Not registered here in UAE anyway since I missed the deadline for registration. Shoot me. My realist side of the brain is telling me I would only register when someone deserving my vote runs for office. I could see now that is never going to happen.
I wouldn’t tell you who to vote for. All of them are flawed and even if it is impossible to hope for a perfect candidate, nevertheless we could always choose the lesser of all evils.
With the senatorial election almost upon us, I checked the list of all those who filed their candidacies and will give you our dear readers and fellow OFWs a rundown on the who’s who.
Based on this article from Rappler, the below senatorial candidates are coming in strong and are in and out of the “Magic 12” based on surveys. My personal feelings might have been involved in writing this piece. I am not one to cast the first stone since I am not blameless myself. I am just presenting the facts and would hopefully help you be a more informed voter.
Grace Poe (independent)
- senator since 2013, adopted daughter of Susan Roces and the late Fernando Poe Jr.
- before becoming a senator in 2013, she was the chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) where she implemented new ratings systems for movies (that bit you see every time… SPG (striktong gabay ng magulang ang kailangan para sa mga batang manonood…) advocated for intelligent viewing and promoted the welfare of children and women actors
- the bills she authored include nutritious meals to children studying in public elementary schools, film tourism for the Philippines as location of local and international films and the “First 1000 days” for protecting and supporting Filipino children during their first 1,000 days
- constantly leading the surveys, incumbent President Duterte even said he wants Grace Poe to be president someday
Cynthia Villar (PDP Laban)
- wife of Manny Villar
- from 2001 – 2010, served as Representative of Las Piñas
- senator since 2013
- involved in issues such as defamatory remarks regarding nurses, voted yes for Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act which increased the price of common goods in the Philippines, her “no conflict of interest” quip over Boracay since her property firm is responsible for levelling one of the mountains in the island for a resort development and of course the infamous ban on unli rice. Why she is number two on the surveys, I would never understand
Sonny Angara (PDP Laban)
- son of former senator Edgardo Angara, started public office in 2004
- recognized as “prolific and hardworking members of the House of Representatives” for the number of bills he filed
- advocate for education, most of his bills are to ensure poor but deserving students are given a fair chance to benefit from scholarship programs
- recently under flak because of his tweet for the hashtag #ShowerTogether amidst the water crisis (to see the dubbed “insensitive” tweet, click here)
Nancy Binay (United Nationalist Alliance)
- daughter of Jejomar Binay, former Vice President of the Philippines
- senator since 2013
- advocated for the welfare of youth, elderly, women, children and housing for the poor, expanded maternity leave, free higher education law
- criticized for the involvement of supplying overpriced cakes for the senior citizens of Makati, siding with Junjun Binay mayorship of Makati City who was involved with the construction of the overpriced Makati Science High School and Makati City Hall together with their father
Koko Pimentel III (PDP Laban)
- son of former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr.
- supposed to be the 12th senator during the 2007 election (as opposed to Miguel Zubiri) but was only proclaimed in 2011 after the election fraud that happened was discovered
- his reelection bid was contested since he already served 2 consecutive terms, although his first term was just a continuation of Zubiri’s
- along with Trillanes, he is listed as the Senate’s top spender in 2017
Pia Cayetano (PDP Laban)
- youngest elected Senator
- first elected as senator in 2004 and again in 2010
- pushed for the passing of laws on Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, the Expanded Breastfeeding Promoting Act, and the Expanded Senior Citizens Act
- as an advocate of women’s right, she was often questioned regarding the President’s actions towards women which she skillfully evaded every time
- she also met Jackie Chan! (not that it mattered when it comes to her reelection. I just find it awesome)
Lito Lapid (Nationalist People’s Coalition)
- during his term as a senator, he authored Senate Bill 2361 or the Legal Assistance to the Poor Act of 2010 where lawyers and law firms are encouraged to provide free services to the poor
- he was also ridiculed for some of the bills he tried to pass as laws such as the limiting of the weight of students’ bag
Sergio Osmeña III (Independent)
- the 1995 movie Eskapo was about his and Geny Lopez Jr.’s experience while imprisoned because their families are against the implementation of Martial Law
- served as senator from 1995-2001, 2001-2007 and 2010-2016
Bong Revilla (PDP Laban)
- being embroiled in a scam as big as the PDAF controversy should be a red flag. Are we still giving him access to the country’s fund? Think hundred times before voting for him
- according to this site, he has legislative accomplishments. If this does merit something and will overshadow his involvement in the PDAF scam, is anyone’s guess
Jinggoy Estrada (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino)
- son of former President Joseph Estrada
- like his rival brother, JV Ejercito, he started his political career as mayor of San Juan City before being a senator
- his political and showbiz career could be use as an example of nepotism and dynasty that is rampant in the Philippines
- involvement in the PDAF scam
Mar Roxas III (Otso Diretso / Liberal Party)
- using his moniker “Mr. Palengke” again perhaps to remind the voting masses of his win in the 2004 elections
- ever since he lost the 2010 vice presidential election, he’s always had a problem with his public image
- wife of Korina Sanchez who did not help his political career, remember the tiff with her and Anderson Cooper?
- nothing seems to be working for him, perhaps if he lost again in this senatorial election he would stop trying
Imee Marcos (PDP Laban)
- daughter of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos
- started her political career in 1975 as the chair of the Kabataang Barangay or Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) as it is now called
- became Congresswoman of 2nd District of Ilocos Norte, Governor of Ilocos Norte
- always embroiled in controversies regarding the family’s ill-gotten wealth and the oppression of the Filipinos during the tyrannical reign of her father; reason for the death of Archimedes Trajano just because she did not like his question during a forum; her tarpaulins were removed in Cebu City during Sinulog Festival for politicizing a religious event; during a campaign, she stated that she was a graduate of Princeton University which the university denied,
Bato dela Rosa (PDP Laban)
- one of the few senatorial candidates who is not a trapo, first time venturing into politics
- served as Director General of the Director of the Bureau of Corrections in 2018 and as Philippine National Police Chief from 2016 to 2018
- his biopic starring Robin Padilla was questioned since the airing date was suspiciously near the election. no wonder it only has a one-star rating in IMDB
- criticized for the torture, harassment, intimidation and extrajudicial killings during his regime as PNP Chief
JV Ejercito (PDP Laban)
- child of Guia Gomez, an actress and is now the mayor of San Juan City (surprise, surprise) and Joseph Estrada
- started his political career as mayor of San Juan City from 2001, as congressman in 2010 then senator in 2013
- charged with a graft case worth 2.1 million pesos for favoring firearms supplier and for using San Juan city’s calamity fund to pay for it
- similar to the Binays, he is in a rivalry with brother Jinggoy and is estranged with his father due to political reason
Bam Aquino (Otso Diretso / Liberal Party)
- part of the Aquino political dynasty, cousin of former president Noynoy Aquino
- according to his Wikipedia page, passed 40 laws during his term
- target of several fake news in 2018 such as his taking credit for the restoration of the Balangiga bells, his comment on giving leftover food from restaurants to the poor, his taking credit for the Manila Bay cleanup, his involvement to Marawi siege
- claims Filipinos could not differentiate “satire news” from “real news”
Bong Go (PDP Laban)
- became household name since he has been President Duterte’s aide since 1998
- national photobomber and king of selfies
- questioned for his alleged involvement in the 16 billion pesos Frigate deal where procurement laws where he violated when he endorsed a different supplier not included in the bidding process, he denied his involvement
Francis Tolentino (PDP Laban)
- MMDA Chairman from 2010 to 2015
- ran for senatorial position in 2016 but lost, appointed instead as President Duterte’s political adviser in 2017
- allegedly brought sexy dancers during a gathering after an event by the Liberal Party in 2015
- accused of being a turncoat since he first ran as senator under the Liberal Party in 2013 and is currently running as senator enjoying the endorsement of President Duterte
Juan Ponce Enrile (Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino)
- a protégé of Marcos but was instrumental in kicking him out (true blue turncoat)
- involved in controversies most of his political career such as giving cash gifts to members of the Senate who does not oppose him, a “psychopathic hypersexualized serial womanizer” including Gigi Reyes, his former chief of staff who is the alleged reason for his wife’s filing an adultery case against him
- and of course, his involvement in the PDAF scam amounting to 641.65 million pesos
Read this post and perhaps it will serve as a wake up call for those who keep on voting the same politicians. The post is aptly titled “Why vote the same people and expect different results?”