THE BEST MAN FOR THE JOB (An Open Letter for Sec. Mar)

Dear Sir,

For months now, I have been struggling.

There are times when I think my brain would explode into tiny, unrecognizable pieces. There are moments when I want to smash my head against the nearest wall. There are instances when I long to shout at the top of my lungs. There are occasions when I feel like tearing my hair out. And, then, there are those split seconds when I am itching to throw in the towel.

But, I am an intelligent and responsible voter. And what most intelligent and responsible voters do is to study the choices laid before them.

So, that’s what I did.

Rodrigo Duterte is the country’s real-life Punisher. Tough-talking and foul-mouthed, he is able to endear himself with the disillusioned majority of Filipinos with his promise of getting rid of criminality within the first six months of his presidency.

Jejomar Binay is a leech in a vice-presidential suit. If King Midas has the unusual ability to turn everything he touches into gold, Binay has the uncanny talent to bleed dry any office he handles.

Grace Poe is the ambitious political newbie who once renounced her Filipino citizenship to fully embrace the country that coddled her and her family. Also, her campaign is said to be heavily funded by Danding Cojuangco.

Miriam Defensor Santiago is the feisty senator who has earned for herself the moniker The Iron Lady of Asia. Despite her choice of a running mate, some people consider her the best among the presidential aspirants for her meritorious academic, professional and moral background.  I would have seriously considered supporting her bid, too, if she were not battling Stage IV Lung Cancer. But as it is, she was stuttering and trembling and could hardly stand during the last presidential debate — this, despite her earlier pronouncement that she has already beaten cancer.

That leaves me with only one choice. You.


All the criticisms hurled at you by your critics, political opponents and their respective supporters are anchored on only three major issues:  (1) You come from old money, (2) Your supposed incompetence and lack of compassion for the downtrodden, and (3) You happen to be part of the present administration’s Daang Matuwid platform.

Allow me, Sir, to dissect the said issues — carefully, thoroughly, one at a time.

Photo credit:


True, you are a scion of the rich, prominent and powerful Roxas and Araneta clans. True, you went to the most exclusive schools, even earning your Economics degree at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, one of the top business schools in the world. True, you were the 4th richest member of President Aquino’s cabinet in 2014. And, it is also true that based on your SALN, you have the highest net worth among the five presidential candidates today.

But the circumstance of your birth cannot be helped. You were born rich and there’s nothing wrong with that. Neither is there something to be ashamed of about that.

When Mel Tiangco asked you in an interview, “Bakit gusto nyo pang maging presidente? You have everything.” Your response, “While I may have everything, my countrymen do not.”, could have easily been misconstrued as a line akin to what our traditional politicians deliver to elicit a favorable reaction from the electorate. But coming from you, that statement, laced with so much sincerity and conviction, was some sort of an affirmation – a vow even – that you made to yourself when you entered politics. You wanted to serve your fellow Filipinos while protecting the legacy of a good name and good governance that your father and grandfather left behind.

Over the years of your public service, you managed to prove that, instead of having your privileged upbringing as a hindrance, you used it as your motivation and inspiration in helping and reaching out to the less privileged.

Among your most notable pro-poor initiatives are the Cheaper Medicines Act (RA 9502) that reduces the maximum retail price of 22 essential medicines by up to 50%, the Tanggal Buwis Law (RA 9504) which exempts minimum wage earners from paying income taxes, the Amended RA 9994 that provides senior citizens with free maintenance medicines for diabetes & high blood, and the Salintubig Program through which water supply systems were provided to 445 municipalities all over the country.

There are many other moneyed politicians like you, Sir. But, unlike them, you did not use your position to protect your or your family’s interests. In all your 23 years in public service, your name has remained untainted by any allegation of corruption. So if I am to choose between a candidate who was born into poverty but is now faced with numerous corruption allegations AND a candidate who was born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth but has maintained his integrity while trying to break down the barrier between him and the people he serves — I will choose the latter. Hands down.


Philippines is now the Call Center capital of the world. The country’s BPO industry is on track to meet its goal of 1.3 million jobs and $25 billion in revenues (8% of GDP) by the end of this year. The industry boom in the early 2000s is heavily credited to your initiatives during your tenure as the DTI secretary, earning you the title “Father of the Call Center Industry in the Philippines”.

You were also dubbed Mr. Palengke because of your various palengke-based programs that promoted consumer welfare and protection.

You know the issues that every ordinary Juan and Juana face on a daily basis, and you endeavour to address them. For education, you authored the Fair Education Act; for peace and order, you implemented the anti-crime strategy Oplan Lambat Sibat, you accomplished Isang Baril Bawat Isang Pulis, you launched the Project SAFE KAm in crime-prone areas in the NCR, and you modernized the Bureau of Fire Protection; for livelihood and economy, you promoted the development of SMEs through SULONG and the Magna Carta for Small Businesses, you established a Public Employment Service Office (PESO) in all municipalities, you protected the Filipino international seafarers by placing all the local maritime institutions under MARINA, and you spearheaded the creation of the Air Passenger Bill of Rights; and for local government empowerment, you enforced Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB) that provides budget for LGU-determined programs.

When the country was besieged by three tragedies in three consecutive months in 2013 — the Zamboanga armed conflict in September, the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Cebu and Bohol in October, and the Supertyphoon Yolanda in Samar and Leyte in December —, you were always in the thick of things, serving as the government’s link to the victims. You were heavily criticized for your “slow” responses by people who were not even there. But, unaffected, you persisted in meeting the immediate needs of the victims.

You received the vindication you badly needed when no less than the United Nations lauded the government “for working closely with the international community to coordinate support and to avoid duplication of efforts” in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, the world’s most powerful storm to ever make landfall.


PNoy may have committed some mistakes, he may have made some wrong decisions, and he may have occasional lapses in judgement (which I’m sure he’d be made answerable for once he steps down from office), but I believe that the President is squeaky clean and is genuinely concerned for the country. That should account for something.

Filipinos should also learn to give credit when and where credit is due.

Under PNoy’s administration and amid global uncertainties, the country continues to enjoy a robust economic growth. (For more information on this, click here.) The number of 4Ps recipients have ballooned from .79 million in 2010 to 4.39 million as of mid-2015, Philhealth coverage is now at 90% (with full coverage for all senior citizens), we have much improved revenue collections (thanks to Commissioner Henares!), and for the first time in history, a Supreme Court Chief Justice was impeached, a former President and three sitting Senators were put behind bars (in a manner of speaking) and a host of other big names investigated due to PDAF-related charges. (For a complete list of PDAF scam defendants, click here.)

Your running mate, Leni Robredo, said it best. “Hindi po perpekto ang ating gobyerno pero hindi po natin maikakaila na ang buhay po natin ngayon, labis na mas mabuti na kumpara noong anim na taong nakalipas.” On Daang Matuwid, she had this to say, “Ang mga pagkukulang ay pupunuan, ang mga pagkakamali ay isasaayos.

Finally, Sir, I think that it would benefit our fellow Filipinos if they understand that it takes more than six years (a far cry from Mayor Duterte’s six months!) to completely rid the country of most of its ills. The important thing is that the foundation is already laid; the momentum is on our side. Rocking it will definitely have an adverse effect on our otherwise smooth-sailing development.

Also, not every change is good. Not every change promotes progress. Not every change brings out the best in us.

What we really need at this point is someone who would safeguard and nurture the country’s hard-earned gains. What we really need is continuity.

Be warned, though, Sir.

When you win, we will remain vigilant. We will watch your every move. We will be here to give you a pat on your back for a job well done, or a slap in the back of your head for every foolish act. So, don’t be an asshole, Sir, okay?

Huwag kang lilihis mula sa Daang Matuwid.


Respectfully yours,

Lorelei B. Aquino (Mom On A Mission)

WRITING TO THE DARK HORSE (An Open Letter for VP Binay)

Kagalang-galang na VP Binay,

I have already read so many articles about you, and so I know na sa inyong mahaba at mayamang karanasan, there are countless lessons that our youth of today can learn from.

They can learn the values of hard work and perseverance, or sa mga labi ni dating Senador Manny Villar, “Sipag at Tiyaga”. Not all orphans can achieve what you have achieved.  Imagine, you were able to graduate from UP – hindi lang undergraduate degree but also Law. At nagawa nyo ito bilang isang working student!

May mataas kayong pagpapahalaga sa edukasyon at sa tinatawag nilang Continuous Learning. You were already a human rights lawyer pero hindi kayo tumigil sa pag-aaral. Throughout the years, you were able to earn master’s and doctoral degrees and various diplomas and certificates from different academic institutions.

You were fearless. During Martial Law, at pati na rin noong panahon ng EDSA People Power Revolution, isa kayo sa mga Pilipinong nanindigan at matapang na nakipaglaban sa diktadurya ni Marcos. Naging aktibista kayo, o sa linggwahe ng mga may pinag-aralang tibak, you were a street proletariat. Bilang gantimpala, you received the honor na maipakulong ni Macoy. Sir, astig ka!

May puso kayo para sa mga naaapi at kapus-palad. Naging kasapi kayo ng FLAG ni dating Senador Jose Diokno, and later on, kasama ang ilang mga bata, radikal at idealistic na abugado, itinatag ninyo ang MABINI upang makatulong sa mga political detainees nang libre. Truly, Sir, those feats were both noble and admirable.

You were keeping company with a bunch of honorable, distinguished and brave men and women. Hindi po ba’t kasama pa nga kayo sa grupo ng mga abugado na nagtanggol kay Ninoy?

Even the late Cory Aquino saw the potential in the young Jojo Binay that she made you her very first political appointee in February 1986.

Bilang alkalde ng Makati, lumago ito into the premiere, highly urbanized city that it is today. Mahal at suportado kayo ng mga mamamayan ng siyudad dahil sa inyong mga programang maka-mahirap. You received various awards and citations for your exemplary work as Makati’s chief executive.

You got off to an extraordinarily good start, Mr. Vice President.

So, ano ang nangyari?

Ang pamilyang Binay ay itinuturing ngayon na isa sa pinakamalalakas at deeply-entrenched na political dynasties sa bansa. Bakit nga po ba hindi e pagkatapos ng inyong short stint as the appointed Makati mayor, kumandidato kayo (at nanalo) during the three consecutive elections thereafter. Nang matapos ang inyong tatlong full terms, the law would not allow you to run again for the same position. So you made your wife, a medical practitioner who had virtually zero political background, your “proxy candidate”. Matapos ang kanyang three-year term, you managed to comfortably re-lodge yourself into the Makati mayoralty seat – muli, for nine uninterrupted years. In 2010, when you had no choice but to vacate your position again due to the same law restriction, you made your son take over. And he would, undoubtedly, have followed your sterling example of hanging on to your beloved city with a vice-like grip had he not been dismissed and rendered perpetually disqualified from public office by the Ombudsman due to the eight criminal charges filed against him.

You simply couldn’t let go of Makati, could you, Sir? Para sa inyong pamilya, it has become a personal territory of sorts, a property you wouldn’t let anyone else get hold of.

24 years, Sir. For twenty-four long years, no one else but a Binay has been a Makati chief executive. And with your daughter Abby’s current mayoralty bid, that length is more likely to get longer.

Oo nga po pala, huwag nating kalimutan na ang inyong dynasty ay hindi limitado sa mayorship ng Makati. Your family was able to branch out to higher political posts, with your daughter Nancy serving her first term as Senator, with daughter Abby on her third and last term as the Congresswoman of Makati’s second district, and with the latter’s husband now gearing up to succeed his wife.

Photo credit:

Balik po tayo sa Makati. Bakit nga po ba hindi nyo mapakawalan ang siyudad na ‘yan? With a population of more than half a million, imposible po not to find someone who could equal, or even surpass, your family’s dedication to and vision for the city – lalo pa nga’t patuloy naman ang ginagawang pagtulong ng mga Ayala sa Makati.

Posible po bang may katotohanan ang mga alegasyon that Makati has been, for years now, your family’s cash cow?

Kailan lang, I came across an online list of all your allegedly undeclared properties. And I have to tell you this, Sir. The sheer immensity of the wealth involved was simply staggering. Nakakapanlumo po talaga. At nakakapanggigil.

According to the COA report (at base lang po ito sa audit ng Makati City Hall Parking Bldg II, which by the way, ballooned from the original approved cost of P283 million to an “actual” cost of P2.28 billion), kayo po ay “administratively liable for grave misconduct, dishonesty and gross inexcusable negligence, and for graft and corrupt practices.” Base rin po sa report na isinumite ng Senate blue ribbon subcommittee na nag-conduct ng imbestigasyon on your alleged involvement in the same project, among others, “the filing of plunder and other criminal charges against you and your son, Junjun,” is recommended.

Siyempre po, you will claim that the investigations were all politically motivated; that it was all part of a grand scheme to discredit you to the eyes of the voters. And, you may be right, Mr. Vice President. Alam naman po nating lahat that politics could be a despicable monster.

Nevertheless, we collectively waited for you to answer all the allegations hurled at you. We wanted to hear how you would counter and invalidate the accusations of your political opponents. We needed to know that you still deserve our trust.

But none came.

Not a word.

Nakabibingi po ang inyong katahimikan.

During the second presidential debate, hindi nyo rin sinagot ang mga paratang ng katiwalian laban sa inyo. Sinayang nyo ang isang golden opportunity na ipagtanggol ang inyong sarili sa harap ng milyun-milyong Pilipino. Pero higit dun, your silence on the issue was an insult to our intellect and an unwitting admission of guilt on your part.

Sa nasabi rin pong presidential debate, Mr. Vice President, mas nakilala ko kayo.

Napatunayan ko na totoo nga palang kayo ay may “wangwang” mentality. I’m aware of the past instances na nahuli kayo ng camera violating some basic traffic rules dahil sa inyong pagmamadali. Your actuation during the debate reinforced my suspicion that you have what is called the Sense of Entitlement Complex. Imagine, Sir, na-delay ang buong programa by more than 1-1/2 hours dahil sa pag-iinsist nyo na magdala sa stage ng mga documents. Apparently, it’s a violation of the Comelec rules, at ang nasabi pong list of rules ay naipadala sa mga kampo ng lahat ng debate participants long before the first debate. Nag-apologize na rin po publicly ang debate moderator. But, still, you let the delay dragged on.

Nalaman ko rin po during that debate that you support the idea of giving the late dictator a hero’s burial. Really, Sir? Nasaan na ang maka-masang aktibista noong panahon ng Martial Law? Saan mo siya dinala? Pero, when I really thought about it, hindi na pala ako dapat na nagulat. After all, you chose Sen. Honasan to be your running mate. Siya po ang mortal na kaaway ni Jojo “Rambotito” Binay, di po ba?

Na-realize ko rin na may pagkabastos, arogante at pikon ka pala, Mr. Vice President. After the debate, when your fellow candidates wanted to shake hands with you, you walked out. Dinedma mo sila, pati na rin ang mga members ng press na gusto kayong makapanayam.

There are three other issues na gusto ko po sanang i-discuss pa with you nang malaliman pero masyado na pong humaba ‘tong letter ko. So, pagtiyagaan nyo na po itong aking condensed version.

Sir, totoo po bang epal kayo? During the negotiations kasi with the Muslims noong 2013 Zamboanga siege, you went there without any kind of authorization from PNoy at nag-declare kayo ng ceasefire. Ang sabi po, your action put the entire negotiation process in jeopardy and the lives of the government negotiators at risk. At the wake din po ng Yolanda tragedy, pictures of relief bags bearing your name were all over social media. Dahil po sa inyong mga epal moves, you now hold the distinguished title “Epal King”.

Secondly, you once admitted to having an extra-marital affair before. I am a woman and so I know how your wife must have felt when you betrayed her that way. Sir, huwag mo nang uulitin, ha? The only womanizing president I know was not able to finish his term. He was impeached. Ikaw rin, you wouldn’t want to suffer the same fate, would you? 😉

Lastly, you were PNoy’s cabinet member for five years. During all those years, you were closely and harmoniously working with the President. But when you resigned your posts, apparently dahil naramdaman mo na na hindi mo makukuha ang kanyang endorsement for your presidential bid, you openly attacked his administration tagging it “manhid” at “palpak”. What would have happened kaya, Sir, kung ikaw ang inendorse nya instead of Mar Roxas? Siguro, you’d still be singing him praises hanggang ngayon.

Alam mo, Sir, hindi pa rin naglalaho ang tiwala ko that, someday, the country would be able to produce great public servants and patriots such as Jovito Salonga, Lorenzo Tanada and Jose Diokno. Their lives stand “as a reproach to all those who would put personal gain ahead of public service; who would lower the standards of public discourse; and who would sacrifice human rights and the rule of law either for personal or partisan advantage”.

Sayang ka, Mr. Vice President. Sayang ka talaga.


Lorelei B. Aquino (Mom On A Mission)