Who can be the worst possible plunderer among the 2010 bets?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-01-05

Who can be the WORST POSSIBLE PLUNDERER among our 2010 presidential candidates? That is a fair question to ask, especially considering the sad experiences we Filipinos had suffered under plundering leaders.

There seems to be no problem with the qualifications of four of the top five ranked 2010 presidential contenders (using the SWS and Pulse Asia surveys as guide) to efficiently run the national government. Save for convicted former president Joseph Estrada, presidential candidates Senator Noynoy Aquino, Senator Manny Villar, former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and Senator Richard Gordon more than meet the qualifications standards to sit as Philippine President.

Estrada had his chance to be president in 1998 but he blew it. Not only did he prove himself unworthy of the highest public trust — he disgraced the presidency by being the very first to be convicted for plunder. He may not have to wait for long though before somebody joins him in that category.

Dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos is easily one of the most brilliant presidents but he brought us to the pits where to this day we continue to suffer from the after effects of Marcos misrule and martial law. Marcos justifies suggestions that we should shy away from presidential candidates who are “too brilliant” because they can do the worst damage.

My Ateneo batch mate, Vernie Atienza, recently shared with fellow Blue Eagles his written thoughts on why we Filipinos should be very, very wary of electing the Worst Possible Plunderer (WPP) as our 2010 President. Vernie wrote:

“The downside of political conquest through military conquest is plunder.

History bears this out. Genghis Khan, Attila the Hun, the Japanese Army in China, the Roman Army, etc. were incorrigible plunderers. If the complete history of plunder were written, the publication will constitute not just a mere pamphlet, but an encyclopedia.

Less violent electoral conquest in a democracy has not been spared such downside either. To the victor the spoils. Pana-panahon lang. Weather-weather lang. The spoils vary: from perks, positions, contracts, budgets, grants, travel to outright plunder. What the leader especially helps himself to, eventually determines if he is a plunderer or not. For what purpose he uses taxpayer money which obviously is not his money, determines if he is a plunderer or not.

Instead of just focusing on the upside of a campaigning politician, especially a candidate aspiring to be president, it also pays to look at his possible downside. It is not enough to look at the good the presidential candidate can do, but also at the damage he can inflict if his heart turns out to be in the wrong place.

Given patterns in the history of conquest and electoral victory, it pays to ask the strategic question: “Among the candidates seriously running for president, who could be the worst possible plunderer?”

This question puts each candidate under a microscope and asks tough questions: What if this candidate is lying through his teeth? What if he turns out to be a wolf rather than the sheep he presents himself to be? What if we the people are wrong about our assessment of his integrity? If we are wrong, how much damage can he possibly do? If we are wrong about the integrity of each presidential candidate, then who among them can do the worst damage? Who is the worst possible plunderer?

For a credible answer, a scientific and independent survey should be conducted, with deep probing to get a solid feel of the numbers.

Cross classification of respondents according to educational attainment, sex, economic status, profession or livelihood, location, age, religion, extent of participation in politics, Internet activity, etc is necessary.

Qualification of respondents to ensure the integrity of the survey sample is also needed.

The pollsters must also be chosen well. They should have no bias in administering the questionnaires and getting the responses.

Statisticians must be true professionals with regard to tabulating, processing, and interpreting the results.

Second or third panels should review the design, questionnaires, results and interpretation of results.

The WPP survey would be predictive of who gets elected and more important: who does well by the people during his term. This survey does not ask whom the respondents intend to vote for, which the present surveys ask to determine the probability of winning of each candidate.

The WPP survey would be a good complement to the Pulse Asia and Social Weather Station surveys, which may be predictive by themselves, and yet are lacking in depth and scope.

In the history of mankind, plunder is as old as prostitution. Both cannot be totally eradicated. But both can be managed, to minimize their short and long-term damage.” (End of article)

Sans the suggested WPP study, we can be guided by the candidate’s character, moral background, track record, reputation and yes — parentage. The sons of genuine national heroes are not inclined to join organized crime. The grandsons of local jueteng lords tend to become national jueteng lords.

The intellectual capacities of Presidents Ramon Magsaysay and Cory Aquino were at times lightly regarded but their eras were the most fondly remembered. In this 2010 presidential election, our national salvation relies not on competence — as four of the five leading candidates have it — but on trustworthiness and character.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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