Poe bubble 'ready to burst': Philippine Daily Inquirer

Philippine presidential candidate Grace Poe waving to supporters and members of Gabriela women's group, during a rally to celebrate International Women's Day in Manila, on March 8, 2016.
Philippine presidential candidate Grace Poe waving to supporters and members of Gabriela women's group, during a rally to celebrate International Women's Day in Manila, on March 8, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

Now that the Philippine Court has decided to let Senator Grace Poe run, voters should refocus their attention on scrutinising her qualities for the presidency.

Amando Doronila

Philippine Daily Inquirer

The latest Social Weather Stations poll survey on March 4-7 showed Senator Grace Poe leading the 2016 presidential contest.

Twenty-seven per cent of the voters prefer her over four other presidential candidates. And this has misled her to believe she has now irrevocably locked the outcome of the election.

According to the survey, she gained up to three percentage points since February-not a safe ground for complacency considering that the election has developed into the most closely contested polls since 1992.

The biggest loser in the survey was Vice-President Jejomar Binay who has been swamped by charges of corruption during his term as mayor of Makati.

The charges appear to have taken a heavy toll on him.

His rating fell 5 points to 24 per cent placing him in second place.

Liberal Party standard-bearer, Mar Roxas, polled 22 per cent, up from 18 per cent from the previous polling period. Roxas was in a statistical tie for second place with Binay and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte who got 21 per cent and is down from 24 per cent.

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago's rating was unchanged at 4 per cent.

Duterte's camp expressed disbelief over the latest SWS survey, in particular as their candidate's sliding down.

Poe's camp is exuberantly euphoric over the latest survey results.

With the balloting less than nine weeks away, the camp is in premature celebration. And Poe indulged in wishful thinking when she told media in a campaign sortie in Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, that her ratings would still improve after the Supreme Court ruled last March 8 that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and has complied with the 10-year residency requirement, clearing her way to run for presidency.

But that's all that the decision did. And it is irrelevant; it has nothing to do with her competence or qualifications to deserve an electoral mandate to run the country in the next six years.

The Supreme Court justices who declared Poe qualified to run for president were criticised for inadvertently amending the Constitution by ruling that foundlings with unknown parents should be recognized as natural-born Filipinos.

In a separate dissenting opinion, Justice Teresita Leonardo de Castro said that declaring foundlings like Poe as natural-born citizens eligible for election into national elective posts was a piece of judicial legislation beyond the bounds of the Constitution.

This amendment of the Constitution put forth by seven justices is based mainly on a misreading of existing laws, which will have unimaginable far-reaching and dire consequences to our constitutional system and national interest, De Castro said.

The Supreme Court decision allowing Poe to run was more significant to her than to the other candidates.

If the Court had voted to disqualify her, it would have knocked her out of the race. Now that the Court has decided to let her run, voters can now refocus their attention on scrutinising her qualities for the presidency.

Of all the five official candidates for president, Poe has been the most voluble in claiming her intellectual qualifications to run the country.

In presenting her platform as a reformist, she spelled out a bloated agenda of governance several pages long. The presentation sounded like a state of the nation address of a sitting president.

In their debate last February, where the presidential aspirants summarized their platforms and demonstrated their ability to respond to crisis conditions, Poe did not stand out as an original thinker, or as an innovator.

(In fact, it was Duterte who stole the show when he pledged to clean up the government in six months, if he were elected.)

Poe merely overplayed the theme that she was a foundling in an effort to play on the emotions of the voters.

She also played up the claim that she was carrying on the legacy of her father, the late Fernando Poe Jr., who never had any experience in public service.

The more the credentials of the candidates are examined in the final weeks of the election campaign, the more opportunities the voters will have to weed out the chaff from the grain-the fraud from the candidate of substance.

The last-minute surge of Poe, with her grabbing the lead in the surveys, may yet turn out to be the manifestation of an overstretch bubble that is ready to be punctured.