The Long View: Invisible platform

The Long View
Invisible platform
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 22:08:00 02/17/2010

FOR PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNS, THE BASIC foundation of a campaign is the party or coalition platform, or what non-political types might be more familiar with as mission and vision statements: the shared goals that unite leaders and followers. The candidates basically had three options with regard to providing a mission and vision – or a platform – for their campaigns. Refer to an existing one for their party or movement, or present a new one either at the time they formally filed their candidacy papers in November last year or when the campaign formally began last Feb. 9.

Richard Gordon, for one, was prepared for a presidential bid with or without the nod of Lakas-CMD. His Bagumbayan Movement’s “Manifesto for Change” was unveiled as far back as Dec. 30, 2007 and is the core document of his campaign. JC de los Reyes subscribes to Ang Kapatiran’s “Passport to a New Philippines” which has been the party’s platform for years. Joseph Estrada undertook all the rituals of nomination and acceptance though curiously has never publicized the platform he announced he was adopting during his Tondo rally last year. Nicanor Perlas unveiled his “Six Pillars” platform when he announced his bid for the presidency, and Jamby Madrigal announced her “Reclaim and Regain the Wealth, Sovereignty and Dignity of the Filipino People and Nation” late last year as well.

As I have pointed out previously, Benigno Aquino III published his “Social Contract with the Filipino People” platform on the day he formally filed his candidacy papers, and he has put forward the operational details of his platform before various audiences, including a 10-point basic education program and a four-point anti-graft and corruption strategy.

His main rival, Manuel Villar Jr., has opted to put forward a platform that is purely symbolic because it doesn’t actually exist unless you confuse references to it with the existence of an actual platform.

In mid-December, the Makabayan Coalition announced it had entered into an agreement (“In Response to the People’s Concerns”) with the Nacionalistas. At the time, the NP hadn’t published a platform, whether for itself or its presidential candidate, and this document could have been put forward as the broader coalition platform for the whole campaign. And yet Makabayan itself carefully insisted it was strictly a document to formalize its alliance with the Nacionalistas, while the NP refrained from publicizing the document in its own or it’s candidate’s websites. However, the statements of its campaign spokesmen made references to a “platform,” most recently in connection with the Calamba, Laguna, launch of the NP campaign proper on Feb. 9.

The NP said, “Others will read their platforms from teleprompters. We’d rather recite ours from the heart in front of the statue of Rizal. The NP platform of government is anchored on winning the war against poverty. The party believes that this war can be won with a platform of equality for all and the sharing of responsibilities as well as opportunities.”

It added: “The program of governance to be pursued will be anchored on issues such as preventing rapid increases in prices of basic necessities, eradication of graft and corruption, reducing poverty, creating jobs and livelihood among others.”

Still, whether at the time its standard-bearer filed his candidacy papers for the presidency or the formal kick-off of its national campaign, an actual platform the public can read and point to, before and after the elections, hardly seems to exist outside of references to it in press releases.

This presents concrete political advantages, of course. On one hand, while its coalition partner, Makabayan, can say it clearly understands the parameters of the electoral partnership, the NP itself, by keeping its own platform (if it exists) close to its chest, can give itself wiggle room later on down the line. The public, too, cannot seize on any specifics but has to rely, instead, on the party and its candidates’ commercials and statements to piece together what, if anything, the campaign really stands for or hopes to accomplish. This also provides wiggle room: no categorical statement, potentially embarrassing down the line, has to be given concerning things like the affiliation with the NP of local candidates like “Joc-joc” Bolante.

Since Aquino published his platform on the day he filed his candidacy, those without published platforms can harp on what they put forward as that platform’s shortcomings without their own bluff being called. Three days before the campaign formally began, Alex Magno intimated in his column that Gilbert Teodoro’s platform was a “work in progress,” and sniffed that Aquino’s was “hollow, superficial and a mere restatement of the 1987 Constitution.” Yet the start of the campaign came and went and no Teodoro platform has been unveiled. So at best it leaves such negative assertions hanging – and raises this question: Outside the close advisers of the candidates who have so far refrained from publishing and publicizing their platforms, who can say, either from the point of view of their committed supporters or the voting public at large, what the candidates really stand for or hope to accomplish?

I have heard it said that Teodoro played a central role in formulating the NPC platform and he himself has been saying things that suggest familiarity with a draft platform. This has been particularly true in recent weeks, coinciding with the period work on a platform has been taking place, as Magno mentioned. The term “subsidiarity” that he mentioned at a recent forum is a vintage Christian Democratic one and is, surely, a hint of what the Lakas-Kampi-CMD platform might put forward. This inability to publish a platform means the ruling coalition believes Prospero Pichay’s statement that their candidate will win because of party machinery and not public sentiment.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

35 thoughts on “The Long View: Invisible platform

  1. Perceptions of Mr Aquino in the community (both external and internal to this blog) fluctuate wildly I would say. Unlike Mr Villar whom even his ardent supporters maintain is a dark knight.

    Will he or won’t he? On the one hand mlq3 and others believe that Aquino will be a white knight and uphold the people’s interests once he holds court in Malacanang. On the other people see the knaves that surround him and predict he will be overcome by their influence once the gates of the palace close behind them.

    It is one big game of bluff. The candidates through their statements and platforms act like they will treat the public as Queen, but are they really using them as pawns? In a way the NP could be simply saying enough with making empty promises.

    In the end the public has to decide which one will offer bigger benefits to the economy, to institutions, etc without incurring as large a cost in terms of inefficiency, ineffectiveness and dishonesty based on scant and often distorted information.

    For me the defining issue for Aquino is still Luisita. If he can convince his relatives to act in accordance with the true spirit of land reform law and stop using every financial excuse and legal recourse to thwart the aspirations of the 10,000 families that live, work and die there, he will have gained the moral high ground and credibility required to ask the same of his cabinet, from Congress, the bureaucracy, the military and the people.

    Without it, he will continue to be perceived sceptically by his critics through the lense of social class, as a rich benefactor who engages in advocacies and charities in order to mask the unfortunate goings on back at the farm.

  2. Cusp, when will you ever realize Noynoy owns less than 2% of Luisita? That even if all the Aquino siblings joined forces and voted as a bloc, their combined shares will not be greater than 10%?

    Are you also aware that Luisita is practically owned by banks? That in the event titles are ceded to the 10,000 families, each will only become debtors to financial institutions.

    It’s clear to me, unlike Mrs Danding Cojuangco, it’s anyone but Villar for me.

  3. Cusp,

    In a sense we’re asking the Aquinos/Cojuangcos to once again make the supreme sacrifice. This time, not giving up life nor liberty, which many countless others have already done in the course of the revolutionary struggle. But the ultimate sacrifice of taking the risk of correcting a centuries-old anomaly where the people — the rightful owners of the fruits of the land — are instead charity cases in their own country.

  4. Yes, anpanfilo, and by offering this GIFT to the Filipinos (whom the community of 10,000 represent) the Nation can reciprocate to them once again as they did at EDSA I. With the stroke of a pen they can break the yoke of paternalism that has bedevilled our society and put all this class conflict behind us. That is what the rule of law represents, the unfinished business of the people power revolution.

  5. I agree with apanfilo and thecusponline. It’s value as a signalling device is bigger than its absolute size. EDSA became EDSA Dos and EDSA Tres largely on the failure to draft a genuine land reform.

    From one perspective, it is quite unfair to push Noynoy on the Luisita issue when other politicians are even bigger landowners or real estate owners themselves but Noynoy is heir to Cory’s legacy (both good and bad) so i think Luisita is a fair issue.

    As for the Makabayans, they never miss a chance to be on the wrong side of history. At some point during a Villar presidency (if it happens), there will be a falling out but i suppose they figure the tactical alliance would have served whatever purpose it was supposed to serve.

  6. Beg your indulgence most Holyfather, but as recipients of stock distribution, the farmers become claimants to the residual value of the assets of the company after deducting the debts. But because they have chosen to revert to the original land distribution option, the farmers would have to payback the full value of the assets that include both the debt and equity.

    And as for the fractional stake of the Aquinos, that is why I called it their defining issue. If Mr Aquino cannot sway his own kin and fellow stockholders to do what they morally owe to these people, then how can he convince the sugar bloc in the house or any interest group for that matter? How can he elicit the support of the nation on the journey he wants to take? The real social compact began when Cory made CARP her centrepiece program. It is time to now honour that compact in both spirit and in truth, your Blessedness.

  7. My son Cusp, I wonder how your family members will react when you ask them to give up their inheritance solely for your own personal, political benefit? Mind you, we are talking about more than 50 heirs. But I grant you indulgence because of your sincerity and love for Country.

    Perhaps we might just request Bong Bong Marcos and his family to sit this election out and just return their massive ill-gotten gains which they plan to spend in their various campaigns to the treasury where they rightfully belong.

  8. Believe it or not your Holiness, our lands what little there were were already taken many decades ago. Of course we are but ordinary people. And believe it or not some of us served as loyal lieutenants in Cory’s army nearly sacrificing our lives for the cause.

    And yes, I realise what an imposition it is. Ninoy Aquino who believed in reconciliation offered to Marcos the chance to be the first and only dictator in history to step down voluntarily. Fedrinand Sr didn’t take up his offer and became the first one to be deposed in a bloodless revolt.

    I suppose what we are offering the most famous landed family in our country is to be the first in our history to voluntarily bequeath their estate through an amicable settlement with the government and the tenants. I suppose it would be too deterministic to think that they could only otherwise.

  9. thecusponline said: “On the one hand mlq3 and others believe that Aquino will be a white knight and uphold the people’s interests once he holds court in Malacanang. On the other people see the knaves that surround him and predict he will be overcome by their influence once the gates of the palace close behind them.”

    I totally agree. That’s what I mean when I say that Manolo must be either delusional or dishonest. Aquino as a white knight? What has he done to deserve that? On the other hand, the whole country knows of Kamag-anak Inc., Eldon Cruz and the Lopas, Peping and Tingting Cojuangco. What’s to stop Kamag-anak Inc. Part 2? Not to mention some éminences grise currently stacking up their bets on Noynoy, including the Lopezes.

  10. I don’t know, my brothers in Filipino blood. All I know is that the presidential candidates right now really sucked. Only three are winnables: Noynoy, Villar and Erap. Aw. But I must pick one of those three.

    Noynoy has a problem on not convincing his other stockholders to also give up their share. He did gave up his, but come on, if he can’t convince them, then how much more can he lead a country with 7,107 islands?

    On Villar, be a man. He can’t answer his issues regarding C-5 extension. Show up to the Senate and in prexy forums and have balls. I can’t trust a man who can’t prove his innocence w/ that insertion thingy.

    Wait. Erap should not belong here. I don’t know if Comelec is really functioning well or needs debugging. Especially the 2nd division, who kicked Pampanga Gov. Panlilio, Isabela Gov. Padaca, Bulacan Gov. Mendoza and Naga City Mayor Robredo out of their seats. And yet Erap is allowed to run? As a VB programmer, I would use this VB code for Comelec:

    On Error GoTo hell

    It also spells NO-EL. Now we are doomed.

  11. please enumerate the cases and convictions and specific allegations other than the catchy moniker of kamag-anak inc? but if this obsesses you then you should make inquiries as to any positions eldon cruz or former rep. cojuangco has in the campaign. and again, where is there anything but guilt by association instead of specific culpability? the question of his being a white knight has everything to do with the dogged determination of cory and with her passing the public clamor to continue the fight, recognizing the outstanding nature of that determination. it’s the reason he can be a candidate who remains himself while his leading oppponent increasingly resembles the attitudes and methods of the present dispensation.

  12. Cusp and Josh,

    If, abstracting away from the matter of Hacienda Luisita, Noynoy Aquino gains a defining potential and credibility (from his party, congress, the bureaucracy, the military establishment, and ultimately the people) that his presidency is in the best position to “offer bigger benefits to the economy, to institutions, etc without incurring as large a cost in terms of inefficiency, ineffectiveness and dishonesty” involving the lives of millions living in 7,107 islands, would you allow that to be trumped by a skeptical perception about his ability to “convince his relatives to act in accordance with the true spirit of land reform law . . . (involving) the aspirations of the 10,000 families that live (in the Hacienda)”?

  13. No Abe, I am not saying that at all. All I am saying is without this grand symbolic gesture of beginning the CHANGE within his family and community, it weakens his credibility to LEAD and deal with special interests. The Cojuangco-Aquino clans become just like any other privileged family and special interest group using the laws that they have devised to their advantage.

    While the rest of us who don’t have such clout have to find more productive ways of making a living since our tiny parcels of land were expropriated ages ago. Some of us have to go to distant lands to do that leaving behind our cherished dreams for the homeland.

    Without this patriotic act, the slogan of rule of law, equal treatment under the law, social justice, government free from collusion with special interests just rings a bit hollow. It sounds like manna from heaven, which we would have little prospect of gaining in this life. I believe in the promise of EDSA I, that’s why I advocate what I am advocating.

  14. Manolo, the fact that you try to argue that Eldon Cruz and Peping Cojuangco do not officially hold positions in Noynoy’s campaign, you implicitly acknowledge that their official presence would taint the campaign due to shady dealings in the past.

    And it is no secret that the Lopezes, who profited enormously under very questionable circumstances under Cory Aquino, are now among the principal bankrollers of the Noynoy campaign. Flush with cash from the sale of their Meralco booty, the Lopezes are poised to pick up government assets at bargain-basement prices under a Noynoy presidency.

    Even the Makati Business Club, which the Philippine Daily Inquirer describes as packed with what it calls as Cory Aquino’s “yellow army”, has been more impressed with Gibo Teodoro’s presentation of his programs than it was with Noynoy. You can read about this in today’s Inquirer. Once again, this shows what an unimpressive and unexceptional candidate Noynoy really is. Actually, I agree with Josh Apostol’s comments above, decrying the fact that the leading presidential candidates really suck. And, despite the drumbeating by people like yourself and Abe Margallo, it does not diminish the fact that you are simply beating on a hollow drum.

  15. Cusp,

    It’s been reported that Noynoy will work towards the distribution of Hacienda Luisita to be completed by 2014.

    Do you find the timetable reasonable considering the following reasons for example (and I’m making this up only for the sake of argument): the voluntarily bequest of the estate through an amicable settlement is justified only by the more efficient exploitation of the land and better productivity while in the control now of the beneficiaries and not for the purpose of proving only some abstract or ideological theory. The four-year transition period is then necessary so that with the possible intervention of the State, the huge estate could be prepared to become more productive than it is now or as part of a larger development plan duplicable elsewhere in the country?


    The PDI article said that the business group was “lukewarm” to Villar, Gibo “rose to the challenge” whereas Noynoy was “roundly applauded.”

    But then you cannot line-item veto a candidate. You take him as a package deal and the news item gives us the impression that while Gibo was “more specific than the others,” he is a bad deal after all because of “negative perception.”

  16. From one perspective, it is quite unfair to push Noynoy on the Luisita issue when other politicians are even bigger landowners or real estate owners themselves but Noynoy is heir to Cory’s legacy (both good and bad) so i think Luisita is a fair issue.
    The question should be, aren’t we being too hard on Noynoy, especially considering the alternatives present?

    From one perspective, perhaps we are. If Cory’s govt was as some suggest the closest thing in the post-Marcos years we have come to having an honest and able government, then perhaps we are judging the son to harshly.

    On the other hand, if we say that close was not close enough, and that there were areas which she and her govt failed to address, one of them being genuine agie reform (which was the centerpiece program), then we are entitled to ask, “what will be different this time around? and why ought we give you another go?”

    Since Noynoy has vowed to finish what his mother started, we ought to have a higher standard of assessing his promises and capabilities. Other prexy’s save for Erap haven’t had a crack at the job yet. The Aquinos have. That’s why one unmistakable way of SIGNALLING THE CHANGE would be to offer the hacienda NOW. If we target a date near the expiration of the CARPer to implement reform, then we risk not implementing it at all.

  17. no, what i’m saying is they are bound to be extra careful in not giving the wrong perception now -itself a submission to scrutiny in contrast to the current suspects. as for your conspiracy theories past and present events will bear them out or not. these obsessions are beyond rational discussion: consider how much more vast and ambituous the empire-building of manny pangilinan is for example.

    being impressed with teodoro’s presentation is one thing but considering him a viable contender is another -not for the intrinsic merits or demerits of teodoro as a person but his choice of party and his continued subordination to the president.

  18. it is easier for a president to solve this once in office: even fidel castro never convinced his mother to give up their hacienda. he had to lead the armed forces to seize it as she waited behind the door of their home with a shotgun and never spoke to her son again. then again, we wouldn’t even be discussing sugar lands if they hadn’t been included under the scope of land reform by cory.

  19. The fact is Manolo, sugar lands were included, so here we are.

    I lifted this from an ad I found in the Economist. It reads,

    “The four most DANGEROUS WORDS in investing are still

    He might follow Castro’s lead in actively barging in, or he might follow Manny Villar’s lead in passively saying “I will not defend” them?

    If he cannot come out with a categorically conclusive statement now while he is still wooing the electorate to vote for him, I cannot see how easier it will be for him to as you say “solve this once in office”. He needs to come out with a definitive pronouncement now before this election slips away from him. It is his to lose after all.

  20. Spot-on, cusp! We shouldn’t be deluded into thinking that Noynoy is a white knight or that he will be different. And, by all measures, save those that are self-serving, Cory’s government wasn’t honest nor able. PCGG, CARL, the devious and self-serving compromises with warlords and cronies and the rolling blackouts are only some testimonies to the dishonesty and ineptitude under the Cory regime. So what would make the son any different?

  21. Carl, two things: 1) yours is obviously the view of a highly partisan minority, and 2) the kung ano ang puno siya rin ang bunga logic is puerile at best.

  22. Abe N. Margallo said:
    “the kung ano ang puno siya rin ang bunga logic is puerile at best.”

    Abe, since you are a delusional, highly partisan booster of Noynoy, your rejection of that old adage only shows that you think that Noynoy is OK, while admitting that Cory was rotten or bad. Certainly terribly flawed. 🙂

    That’s OK, Abe. After all, Noynoy himself now admits that the Cory constitution was flawed.

    And to say I am in the minority is rather silly of you. What will Noynoy poll? 40% at best? Could even go lower. Why, he could even lose. That is certainly not a majority. Last time I looked, you need more than 50% to claim a majority. 🙂

    And, Abe, the Inquirer article clearly states that Gibo’s programs were favored by the Makati Business Club over Noynoy’s. That Gibo’s presentation was much better. Sorry if that rained on your parade, Abe. 🙂

  23. All things considered, Cory is still considered the world over as a blessing to democracy.

    I also think there are certain provisions in the present constitution that need to be changed or clarified. But even if Noynoy is of a similar frame of mind, a claim that he likewise considers it to be “flawed” is just unfounded.

  24. Carl, I believe you that MBC’s compliment of Gibo is more than consuelo de bobo, but on the whole the prevailing sentiment in that group seems to be that he’s a bad deal.

  25. I agree with the observation that Noynoy can lose Malacanang 2010, despite deQuiros and others who assert that Malacanang belongs to Noynoy by reasons of heritage/destiny/ inheritance.

    By the way, “survey says” that half won’t vote Noynoy among those who believe Cory to be a saint (i.e. best Filipino leader they know). Survey says among pro-Cory citizens, half disagree that her genes integrity had transferred to Noynoy.

  26. His recent interview with Enriquez is quite encouraging I must admit. In it he says he will:
    1) take a more conciliatory “live and let live” stance with GMA and her allies in Congress and with MV in the Senate although the cases will still proceed,
    2) not engage in patronage to gain a majority in the House (PDAF will be released regardless of loyalties as long as they fit a menu of national priorities)- the first president to do so (mlq3 can you confirm?)
    3) probably take less than 5 years to disperse the lands in Luisita (he would still have a bigger impact with D&E if he could bring entire clan to the party on this)
    4) ensure a level playing field with his friends in the biz community and help them only when their rights are being abused (will he determine that though?)
    5) try and catch a big time smuggler in first 2 weeks of his prexy (the only iffy one, since announcing it alerts smugglers to lay low)
    6) appoint people from other parties in his cabinet if they agree with his principles and policies.
    7) support cha-cha only if the long run benefits of changes proposed outweigh the short run costs (though still wary of Villarroyo tandem in the house/senate).

    All in all, a much better performance than in the past. It sounds like he is beginning to realise the enormity of the challenge of governing post-election and is thus reaching across political divide. Politically astute! By allowing for divided government (prex v cong), he won’t take all the blame when things don’t go so well (good for Roxas too).

  27. In the end, we deserve the leaders we choose…its a shame most Filipinos take the path of least resistance…we’ll have a charlatan for president coming from an industry known for hooliganism and dishonesty – real estate…

  28. Aquino will most likely get elected. It’s a weak and unimpressive field. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed is king. But Aquino will disappoint. I wish him all the best but, frankly, I doubt very much whether he has what it takes to change the damage that decades of mismanagement and corruption has done to our society.

    1. Cases against GMA, MV or anyone else that matters will not prosper, just as cases against Marcos and his cronies didn’t prosper with Cory Aquino. He could go after some small fry just to make an example. But the big fry will get away.

    2. He will pay lip service not to use patronage in Congress. But, if he wants to get his programs through, he will ultimately resort to patronage politics. That’s the only thing those people understand. I wish Aquino luck if he is serious and determined to change “business as usual” in Congress. I really do. But his mother had to resort to Ramon Mitra and Peping Cojuangco indulging in patronage politics to get things done. The horse trading was incredible.

    3. Lusita dispersed in less than 5 years . . . that is certainly doable, if he is determined. We’ll see about that. And what the Cojuangcos get in return.

    4. A level playing field in business? That’s a big question mark. There are powerful backers that will demand their pound of flesh. As for businessmen’s rights being abused, thecusp is right about wondering who makes that determination. Isn’t that something for the courts or agencies concerned to determine, and not the president?

    5. I hope it won’t be a game of musical chairs, replacing one set of smugglers or cronies with his or his advisers’ own set of crooks. It happened under his mother’s administration, so it could well happen under the son.

    6. Since parties in the Philippines really have no principles or policies to speak of and only exist to win elections or get plum appointments, this one is probably the easiest one to fulfill. Favor-seeking chameleons are the most common animals we have in our country.

    7. Charter change will be divisive and could distract his administration from short-term goals. In only 6 years, it’s doubtful whether there will be a push for charter change in earnest. Even if Aquino has acknowledged that there are “weaknesses” in his mother’s constitution.

  29. “Lahat kami iyan lang ang sasabihin.Lahat ng kandidato sasabihin iyan.We will say the same things…we will have the SAME PLATFORM.
    For after all, a platform… dadalawang speechwriters lang iyan tatanungin ka.Anong gusto ninyo, 3-point agenda , 10 point agenda 15 point agenda o 25 point agenda.” Senator Manny Villar

  30. I totally agree with Erineo, though I’m hoping his administration will be a lot better than his mother’s in terms of minimizing graft and corruption in all levels of government, preventing his family and families of high government officials from dipping into the public coffers, and in terms of overall performance and results such that at the end of his term the people can say, “Noynoy is the best president we ever had.”

    I hope too that Noynoy will give his best priority to improving the irrigation systems of the country that the Philippines can become a rice exporter instead of being the biggest importer in Asia, if not within his 6-year term then in the succeeding administrations.

  31. Erineo’s thoughts are eerily the same as mine also.

    Honestly, at times, we condemn these smugglers, tradpols, corrupt officials, etc…but if they are OUR smugglers, tradpols, corrupt officials, etc…its okay…

    Noynoy can’t possibly solve all the ills of the country on his own, and within the short span of one term…at least, with him, we can clean up our institutions and put all the checks and balances in place so the country can have a chance of getting back to right path…something like establishing a true north (the right one) again…

  32. thecusponline on Sat, 20th Feb 2010 5:47 am:
    “ensure a level playing field with his friends in the biz community and help them only when their rights are being abused (will he determine that though?)”

    Noynoy doesn;t even want to disclose who his campaign donors are. Those are important details needed for transparency. In most of the less corrupt countries, it’s a requirement. So, this early, Noynoy is already shielding his friends in the biz community. What’s he really afraid of? That he will be criticized when payback time comes? So much for establishing a true north. It sounds more like the Ferdinand Marcos type of true north. Eh, solid north pala! Ngunit Marcosian pa rin. 🙂

    Click on the Inquirer link below for more details:

  33. the time for this scrutiny is when campaign donations and expenses are reported after the campaign. tactical considerations can pply considering the remaining ability of the administration to sick the bir etc on those it sees supporting its enemies.

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