The past six years saw the Philippines recuperating from decades of failed leadership, mismanagement, and plundering. Public officials high and low have been charged with graft, corruption, and plunder – and dozens upon dozens of them have been removed and perpetually disqualified from public office, while many more face similar fates.
This year – on May 9 – the country will elect a new president who will head government for the next six years. Whether the Philippines continues to remake itself and totally eliminate the virus that is both a culture of corruption and abuse of office depends on who gets elected from among the five presidential aspirants. The aspirants are Grace Poe, Mar Roxas, Rodrigo Duterte, Jejomar Binay, and Miriam Santiago. Those who have a chance of winning are Poe and Roxas, and, unfortunately, Duterte and Binay.
Duterte and Binay are strong contenders because a lot of people admire politicians that act like bullies who neither fear the law nor respect any reason, as well as politicians that behave like the legendary Robin Hood – who steal from the rich to give to the poor.
Many Filipinos believe that Duterte (a poor imitator of the late Manila Mayor Arsenio H. Lacson) is a Rambo-type hero who takes the law into his own hands to kill the bad guys and save the good guys, all the while forgetting that this type of personality may get out of hand and eventually serve no one but himself. Apparently, Duterte is an egomaniac who believes himself to be above the law. He is that person whose delusions of personal greatness will eventually bloat and then aim to become a dictator.
Many Filipinos believe that Binay rose out of poverty by milking the rich – and therefore needs to be honored for such an accomplishment. These folk don’t realize that Binay milked them as well, and whatever he passed on to them is peanuts compared to what he kept for himself. Robin Hood never got rich.
The Philippines is at the crossroads. If the people elect Duterte or Binay, they set the country back a decade or two in its effort to reform. If the people elect Poe or Roxas – or even long-shot Santiago – they move the country forward and well on the road to political, social, and cultural renaissance.