Written and photographed
By Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista
Grace Poe did not win me over with her name or parentage. In fact I had my doubts with her abilities when she took over MTRCB (Movie Television Review and Classification Board) in 2010. Just because of relations with Fernando Poe Jr and Susan Roces two Pinoy movie icons, it was not an assurance that she would do well. Since most of what I shoot and write about is entertainment related, I feel we in that field had a better or earlier understanding of Grace’s management skills and leadership before everyone else.
But as Chairman we saw that there was a marked improvement in the professionalism of the government agency that was known to be very insensitive to the needs of filmmakers, whether independent or commercial. To be fair there were some facility improvements by the previous Chairman Consoliza Laguardia. But the cleaner reputation of the agency can definitely be attributed to Grace Poe. She saw the importance of supporting indie films “and worked towards providing independent cinema with the necessary institutional support for its continued advancement and viability. The agency granted 70% discounts on its review fees and provided a preferential review schedule to qualified indie film projects. MTRCB likewise extended financial assistance and help generate media exposure for selected independent films.”
A streamlined process, more sensitivity to the needs of affected sectors in the MTRCB was achieved. The current classification of TV shows for example and flashing immediately before airing was studied and implemented under her leadership. As a parent herself, she was concerned with what children would be exposed to on TV. The immediate flash of the classification would help parents decide if it were appropriate for their kids to watch.
She had a great cooperation and partnership with the FDCP (Film Development Council of the Philippines) Chairman Briccio Santos. Whose FCEP (Film Cultural Exchange Program), allowed films from other countries such as France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, PROC and so on to adopt their native film ratings without having to go through the MTRB process.
This program garnered such goodwill among these countries that many seminal films of ours were restored for free by these countries that benefitted from the FCEP. Manuel Conde’s Genghis Khan (1950) in 2012 was restored by Italian experts. Lino Brocka’s Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (1975) in 2013 was restored by World Cinema Foundation’s (WCF) Artistic Director Kent Jones, and Pierre Rissient known to be Lino Brocka’s and Philippine Cinema’s most ardent supporter in France.
Many more films from Gerardo De Leon, Brocka and others are in the process of being restored which would cost our government hundreds of thousands of dollars if the services were not donated by these organizations and countries. Our film history and legacy would have very easily been lost. Both the FCEP and National Film Archives are the brainchild of Santos but also garnered a lot of support from Grace Poe. Santos himself has repeatedly credited Poe and praised her leadership as MTRCB Chair.
Cultural Center of the Philippines’ VP & Artistic Director Chris Millado during Gawad Buhay Awards asked the audience to vote for the candidate who would champion the cause of the arts. Without a doubt during her stint at the MTRCB and senate Grace Poe has proven to be that candidate.
After seeing her success as MTRCB Chair it was no longer surprising to see her top the Senatorial elections in 2013. Her resumé as Senator is glowing, “She became the first female Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs. She also chairs the Committee on Public Information and Mass Media and the Sub-Committee on Public Services (on Transport Issues). Senator Poe is also the Vice-Chair of the Committees on Agriculture and Food and Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation.”
For me her effort at sponsoring the Freedom of Information Act (that did not pass) is a very strong indication of her commitment against governmental abuse and corruption. The law if passed would give media and the public access to government documents that may curb corruption through transactions and budgets etc. Our country desperately needs her as president to gather support for this landmark bill to prevent malversation of funds in the future.
Grace Poe also distinguished herself during the Senate hearings of the Mamasapanao incident where 44 Special Action Force members were massacred. Her calm but stern demeanor helped in clarifying facts to get to the bottom of the incident. During the hearing we found out that President PNoy himself decided to leave then DILG Secretary Mar Roxas ‘out of the loop’ from the operation. This shows a lack of faith in Roxas who is now his official administration candidate. This is not the first time PNoy has shown dismay in Roxas’ performance. He was forced to replace him with Panfilo Lacson as NDRRMC (National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council Chair) in December 2013 after a strong public clamor over perceived mishandling of Yolanda disaster relief efforts.
As the presidential elections drew near a number of accusations and issues have been brought up against candidates. The Senate hearings on VP Binay’s alleged corruption, properties and hidden wealth proved damaging. On Grace Poe’s part her own citizenship and residency were brought to question. The Supreme Court however has answered that with finality granting her the right to run as president.
In my mind it was a non-issue harped on by the likes of Binay and other candidates during the debates. Who among us Filipinos do not have a relative, a family member, or close friend who has taken citizenship in a foreign land? Why don’t we consider them as traitors? The simple answer is like Grace; they went abroad to seek a better life for their families. They did it as a sacrifice working and sending money to their families here.
Everyone from Fidel Ramos up to PNoy have all praised millions of our OFW as modern day heroes. This actually includes VP Binay who fancies himself as a champion of the OFW. Our economy has long been reliant on OFW remittances with $2.2 billion in January 2016 alone.
As a one time OFW myself who was not able to send money home, I had a greater appreciation and love for our language, our food, culture and most definitely our kababayan being away from our homeland. This is something we see from our balikbayan all the time. Grace took up Developmental Studies of U.P. (University of the Philippines) but eventually graduated with a Political Science degree in Boston College. These experiences enhance her horizon as a leader giving her a deeper understanding in expressing herself and dealing with other nations.
Unlike Duterte who has already gotten into hot water antagonizing the Mexican Ambassador and even threatening to cut off ties with U.S. and Australia. The U.S. has raised their military aid to $79 million in a bid to bolster our defense in the face of China’s invasion of our islands. The Australian Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines will be an estimated $81.9 million in 2016. Their economic partnership with the Philippines involves all elements of their trade, investment and aid initiatives working together to promote growth.
You can imagine how devastating cutting off ties with these two countries would be to our economy and our kababayan who already work and live there. That’s just ONE of the dangers of having Digong as our president.
INC & El Shaddai
The leadership of Iglesia Ni Cristo has flip-flopped on its publicized endorsement of Rodrigo Duterte. They know it is damaging to their religious organization as much as it is a benefit for the candidate. Duterte openly admits he is a murderer and philanderer; this discredits the Iglesia Ni Cristo leadership’s choice. The INC has had its credibility eroded with reports of corruption and dissent from its own ranks the past years. Their support for Duterte will further eat into their credibility not just from among its own followers but also in the eyes of the public in general.
In the same report from Phil Star, El Shaddai another religious organization that has not ‘officially’ endorsed VP Binay but has shown preference for him in their sample ballot. Binay has been mired with allegations of corruption which has led to his slide in the presidential surveys from 40% to 13% last May 6, 2016 from SWS. These are two large religious groups not ‘officially’ endorsing these two very morally questionable candidates.
Contrast this to Sister Mary John Mananzan who has actually defied the Catholic Church’s order NOT to endorse any particular presidential candidate. Mananzan is a long time activist who has openly endorsed Senator Grace Poe. Mananzan is proud and confident of her endorsement without flip-flopping or having to ‘hide’ it in double speak or sample ballots. The simple reason: Grace Poe is the moral choice. Sister Mary John calls on Filipinos to help her because she is not a superwoman. We shouldn’t just vote for her but help enlighten our kababyan to make the right choice.
Grace (in Christian belief) is the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. Poe sounds like ‘Po’ in Filipino, which is added to sentences in order to show respect.
In the face of a madman who wants to install a revolutionary government, a VP faced with allegations of corruption, an inept but influential trapo, our nation can only choose the right leader through God’s Grace.
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