By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — EVEN if I didn’t believe this–and I would never agree–there were some predictions that our next president in the future would be either Lito Lapid, Manny Pacquiao, or Davao City mayor Sara Duterte.
We don’t know how, why, and what was the solid or rationale basis other than praises for them for being “low key” public figures.
Among the three, Mayor Duterte, being the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, will most likely be the one to run in the future as her name has been mentioned in several surveys several times.
Being the presidential daughter, she also has the edge in the following: name-recall and a nationwide machinery owing to her fast-growing political party.
These predictions allegedly came from no less than some groups of municipal mayors and even village officials.
But among the so-called “mediocre” characters in public service today, only Lapid, Manuel Mercado Lapid in real life, has the charisma with the masa, they said.
“People don’t care if he did not even finish high school. What matters most is he connects and this is something that other politicians with doctorate degrees and multiple titles don’t possess,” said an ex-mayor from northern Iloilo, who refused to be identified, saying he is “still a loyalist of Pareng Erap (Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada).”
The municipal mayor said Pacquiao, a congressman from Saranggani and now a senator, “is only a media creation like other celebrities and showbiz misfits who trespassed the politics.” The highest office they will reach is only the senate “never as president of the republic,” he added.
I will never endorse and vote for these “big names” in politics only because they are popular. I’m looking for substance, not popularity.
“Never did it occur to the lowly person of a silver screen hero that a man of his mettle would make a mark in the annals of this chamber, a place then forbidding of the not so lettered,” stated his biography.
“Indeed, as a testament to a working democracy, a person with little formal education can be presented the opportunity of belonging to the group of select individuals mandated by the people to craft policies that would later on become laws and rules of conduct. For this reason, Senator Manuel “Lito” M. Lapid never passed off the chance to deliver well in this world of the erudite.”
It added: “The six years of his first term as a senator were marked with achievements which left the cynics perplexed and his critics baffled, but nevertheless proved his worth as a working legislator. He was one of the top performing senators having placed 4th among his peers in the number of bills and resolutions filed in the 14th Congress alone. He fathered one of the meaningful social legislations of the 14th Congress, the Free Legal Assistance Act of 2010 which seeks to ensure that the poor may be afforded free quality legal service. This measure heralded other policy initiatives that look to bridge the great divide between the rich and the poor. Since then, he never wavered on making proposals that would uplift the living standards of the little people of the society whose caused he has been championing, being the “Bida ng Masa”.
“Consistent with his excellent showing when he was then a neophyte Senator, he did what he could, not to disappoint the more than eleven million Filipino voters who granted him a fresh mandate in the 2010 National Elections. At the close of the 15th Congress, Senator Lapid filed 239 measures earning him the distinction as the fifth most prolific members of the Upper Chamber. He authored the Meat Labeling Act of 2011, Comprehensive Unilateral Hearing Loss Research and Development and Rehabilitation Act, Urban Agriculture and Vertical Farming Act, Corporate Social Responsibility Act, Kindergarten Education Act, and the Adopt-A-Wildlife Species Act, among others. As the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Games, Amusement and Sports, he saw to it that measures are in motion to sufficiently ensure the development of sports in the grassroots, seeing to it that the youth develop a keen interest on participation to sports competition.
“He looks forward to further coordination between concerned government agencies so that appropriate support is afforded to the national sports development program. In his first year at the helm of the Senate Committee on Tourism, he has initiated initiatives to oversee the development of the tourism potential of the country and gather the tools to ensure the country’s success as it joins the tourism race with our Asian neighbors.
“With the aid of the people who believe in him and share the causes he seeks to uphold, Senator Lapid has proved that he is one who cannot easily be dismissed. Despite the unfair imputations against his competence, he has successfully struggled towards becoming one of the more productive legislators, slowly dispelling one criticism after another to distinguish himself as a dependable leader, a scholar of worthwhile ideals, a gentleman for the masses and a warrior for social responsibility.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)