Economy cannot afford a Cory-type Presidency

With the Presidential election only a month away and Senator Grace Poe continuing to be the frontrunner in the poll opinion surveys, prudent Filipinos ought to begin contemplating what the new administration will be like in the event that Fernando Poe Jr.’s adopted daughter, recently given the Supreme Court’s imprimatur to run, were to win the election.

Considering her gender, the rational thing to do would be to compare her, in terms of her educational background, her personality and her professional record, with this country’s two female former Presidents, Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Is Grace Poe likely to be a Chief Executive in the mold of former President Cory Aquino, or is her Presidency likely to resemble former President Gloria Arroyo?

In my view, a Poe Presidency is unlikely to resemble the Presidency of Gloria Arroyo, for several reasons. The first relates to educational preparation. Gloria Arroyo received training as an economist, topped by a doctorate in economics from the University of the Philippines. The second reason is that, by the time she was shoehorned into the Presidency by a judicial coup d’ etat, Gloria Arroyo already had abundant professional experience-as an economics professor, as an assistant secretary in the Department of Trade and Industry, as a Senator and as Vice President of the Republic. Lastly, Gloria Arroyo was an assertive, driven President with experience of living in a Presidential environment during her younger days.

To be sure, Cory Aquino was more than the “mere housewife” that her detractors considered her to be. But at the time of her election to the Presidency in 1986, Cory Aquino did have, as credentials, only a degree from a small US college and experience as the wife of a provincial governor and Senator. In other words, Cory Aquino was not possessed of the kinds of professional preparation and administrative experience that Gloria Arroyo had when she entered upon the responsibilities of the Presidency.

For these reasons, a Grace Poe Presidency is likely to resemble a Cory Aquino Presidency.

The taunt that the minions of Ferdinand E. Marcos threw against Cory Aquino during the 1986 elections-and that her post-election critics flung at her gleefully-was that she was “walang alam” and that she was entirely dependent on her advisers, who, they said, manipulated her for their unholy ends.

The situation in Malacanang during Gloria Arroyo’s occupancy was totally different. Diosdado Macapagal’s little girl knew what she was doing-because she was trained and had a mind of her own-and knew what she wanted. Gloria Arroyo knew where she wanted to go-unfortunately for this country, often in the wrong directions-and could not be pulled every which way by advisers and vested interests.

In contrast, concerned observers fear-and I fear along with them-that a newly elected Grace Poe will be pulled in all sorts of directions by her advisers and vested-interest supporters and will be unable to withstand their importunings. This will come to pass, the concerned observers say, because Grace Poe will know no better. Grace Poe may be honest and well-intentioned, they say, but there is no substitute for personally knowing things and for doing things of one’s own volition.

My other fear about a Grace Poe Presidency is that, as a result of her narrow knowledge and inadequate experience and her being without major-party election support, FPJ’s daughter may already have made promises and concessions that will not be in the best interests of Philippine society.

The years 1986 to 1992 are not so long ago that the Filipino people have forgotten what Corazon Aquino and her Presidency were like. They largely were years of political instability, social discord and economic uncertainty. Those who have fears and misgivings about Grace Poe fear that hers will be a Cory-type Presidency.

The economy cannot afford such a Presidency.

Source: The Standard