Written and photographed
By Chris Lucas
“As we always say, the Presidency even the Vice-Presidency for that matter, is a question of destiny. We do all that we can, to hopefully gain some kind of an advantage when it comes to the elections. But destiny will tell you what to do. I believe that it is the voice of wisdom that I hear when I speak up. I would like to continue to be in public service and I think I can do a great deal as a Vice-President”, said Senator Bong Bong Marcos.
He made the statement during the PANDESAL FORUM at the Kamuning Bakery Café last October 7, 2015. While the forum was a few months back, it was able to shed some light into the programs and intentions of the candidate who is now sharing the lead with Senator Chiz Escudero in the VP race. The most recent results from Pulse Asia has Bong Bong edging out Chiz – 26% vs 25%. Escudero has fallen 3 points from his previous 28%. Lenny Robredo is a distant 3rd at 21%.
Phil Star columnist Wilson Lee Flores was the organizer of the forum and gave his own endorsement of Bong bong, “We’re very fortunate to have the Senator here. I think he is the most popular and the most interesting and the most experienced of all the Vice-Presidential candidates. Senator Bongbong Marcos has the most experience among all: Twenty-five years in public service, in government, former three-term outstanding Governor of Ilocos Norte, former Vice-Governor, former Congressman and many others.”
The newly organized forum has hosted several Presidential and vice presidential candidates including Senators Grace Poe, Chiz Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano. The Kamuning Bakery Café has been known for its pugon style bread the past 76 years, hence the name: PANDESAL FORUM.
Panelists include: Tina Arceo-Dumlao-Business Features Editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Doctor Cynthia Vidad- Principal of the oldest public school in Quezon City- Quezon City High School and Ms. Gina Rosena – Principal of Flora Ylagan High School in Quezon City. Members of the media were also able to ask questions to Senator Bong Bong.
On VP Binay, Duterte
One of the early questions for him was about the invite of VP Binay to be a running mate. His response was simple and clear that ‘political divide’ between them could not be breached, “When you talk about this kind of arrangement, you’re not talking about yourself as an individual, you’re talking about your camp, your group, your supporters. However you want to describe it the political divide was a little too wide, for us to be able to breach in every level.”
The forum was held in October 2015, when Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was making a ball faced lie to practically all media outlets saying he had no intention of running as president. The duplicity of Duterte extended to Senator Bong bong who considered him a friend. IF he can lie that much to a Senator and the public about something as important as his candidacy, how can anyone believe him about anything else? Looking back on it we see how Mayor Duterte manipulated media into giving him more print space, more airtime, just speculating on his candidacy.
Bong bong said of Duterte, “Mayor Duterte and I have been friends for a long time and I talk to him very regularly and frequently. Pag-naguusap kami tinatanong ko siya, ano ba talaga ang gusto mong gawin. Sinasabi niya, “Ay hindi ako tatakbo!” Ano pang iisipin ko kung hindi iyon ang kanyang gagawin. All of that but I suppose when we talk about getting it from the horse’s mouth, ito na iyon dahil siya na mismo nagsasabi. So kailangan kong paniwalaan iyong kanyang sinasabi. So I’m proceeding on that basis. What Mayor Duterte has told me personally, what the people close to him have told me, is that he will not run. He may change his mind of course that’s a distinct possibility. So I try to take all of the news, lahat itong mga haka-haka, I always try to take it with a grain of salt and just have a plan of my own and proceed on that basis.”
The proof for his sincerity according to him is that he could have chosen an easier life as a private businessman, “Am I sincere in helping the country? If I am not sincere in helping the country, I would not have gone into politics at all. My history is well known to everyone, and when I was a younger, umiiwas ako sa pulitika. Lahat ng puwede kong gawin para umiwas sa pulitika, ginawa ko. Pero ganyan ang buhay. Hindi mo masasabi kung saan ka dadalhin, and life brought me back to the life of politics. That’s why here I am.”
A life of service is the traditon that he learned from his parents, “Kahit naman sino masasabi ay hindi naman madali ang buhay na pulitiko at bakit pa titiisin iyon ay dahil ang turo sa amin, ang aming pagkakaalam, kami ay nandito upang magsilbi. That has always been the culture in my family, that has always been our understanding, that we are here to serve and that is the continuing motivation that I have and I continue to think that way.”
For him there is a need to change culture in politics, “I might be naïve, but maybe it is time to turn to that kind of very fundamental understanding of why we are in politics. Why we run for political office. And that is not because we want to do better for ourselves. Madaling magkaroon ng maginhawa na buhay, wala ng gulo. No more uncertainty. But why do we continue to do this? Because in my heart of hearts, I truly believe, that I was put on this earth to serve, to be a public servant. That’s what I will continue to do until the day that I die. That is the reason for my existence in my belief and that is why I am doing all of this.”
The senator was also asked about the human rights cases filed against his father. To this he said, “Many cases have been brought to court not only here but in the United States. But if you talk to people they are not concerned about that. Filipinos are concerned about their lives today. We want answers: why are there drugs in our streets. Why is the crime rate going up at an alarming rate? Why is our educational sector miserable? Why is the distribution of wealth not happening, why are our government not doing anything about it? Why is there no infrastructure development? Why is there no agricultural development? This is what people are worried about, and that’s what I will address.”
Pro Active Vice President
When asked about the limited role of the Vice President, he believed he would be able to do more with the position, “I think it really is up to the person in that position. Ang traditional is ibinibigay nga yung housing, then you become a Cabinet member. Sa palagay ko kahit hindi kayo magkapartido ng Pangulo ay marami ka pa ring magagawa. And I think just speaking out on issues, just studying the issues, just talking to people, and having advocacies that makes sense to the people ay malaking bagay na yun. And again, you can effect change from within, you can effect change from within the Executive Department, and you can also take initatives. I think yung sinasabi nga na spare tire, palagay ko noon totoo yun dahil ang Vice President ay nandun para kung sakaling may mangyari sa Pangulo. They are there to take their place. But with the change in our rules right now I don’t think that that applies anymore. I believe that it has become a more important position than it used to be and sa palagay ko marami pa ring magagawa ang isang Bise para makatulong sa bansa.”