My Thoughts on Sen. Grace Poe’s Presidential Bid Speech

By Dino Manrique, as originally published in his Facebook page

(Latest revision: Sept. 18, 6:42pm)

Finally saw the full video of Sen.Grace Poe’s speech declaring her intention to run as President of the Philippines (Rappler video). My thoughts:


Production values were slick and top-notch. It was like watching a Republican or Democratic convention, hand-carried placards/signs behind (and around) her and all. I guess you can attribute this to Sen. Poe’s long stay in the U.S. where she absorbed the political culture.

Sen. Poe has an excellent — at least, very good — speech writer.

Sen. Poe knows how to deliver a speech. She’s a good communicator.

Sen. Poe’s team is social media savvy. Media, mainstream and socmed — like Rappler — was there, and her team made sure that they circulated a hashtag: #POE2016. It trended: around 40K tweets when I checked early this evening. In other words, pagdating sa communication during the campaign period, hindi mamumroblema si Sen. Poe.


Sen. Poe is clear on what she wants to do. In other words, she has a vision and a platform — a 20-point platform. And I like most of what she said.

In particular, I love that she will prioritize the FOI Bill. She was very emphatic about it in her speech. This is not surprising since she is one of the bill’s sponsors in the Senate where it passed in 2014 (but is now considered dead in the Lower House by FOI advocates).

I love that she will address the country’s Internet speed, or lack thereof. I like that one of the advantages she mentioned is that a fast connection can help address unemployment as more Filipinos can work from home.

I like that she will prioritize agriculture, mentioning irrigation, mechanization, etc.

I love that she mentioned renewable sources of energy.

I like that she will ensure that every community has a well-equipped and well-staffed hospital.

I love that she believes in digitizing education. (Back in the 2010 elections, presidential aspirant Dick Gordon suggested providing each student with an Amazon Kindle device. I thought then that it was a great idea, and I think it’s even a greater idea today especially with tablets and smart phones getting cheaper by the day.)

I love that she mentioned culture and the arts. And she mentioned us writers! Saan ka nakakita ng declaration-to-run speech na na-special mention and writers?! Kung minsan kahit sa award shows nakakalimutan ang writer.:P Not surprising as well since her father worked in the film industry, and she’s familiar with the travails of the artist.

I like that she acknowledges that she cannot do it alone. Now, that is not just humility, but the recognition that creativity — I like that she emphasized the Filipinos’ “malikhain” trait — and productivity is usually collective.

Regarding her promise to continue the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program, I think we should study first how effective this program is (our Philippine program, that is). For example, there are stories (news and anecdotal) of leakages/corruption etc. Moreover, does it really help the recipients long-term? Or nagsasayang lang tayo ng pera? (Update: Some FB friends, via the comment section, have already suggested studies about Philippine CCT, and will check them out.) But I like what she said about assisting the recipients to provide them livelihood — perhaps that can be a viable CCT version.

I like that she framed helping the marginalized sectors — LGBT (special kudos to Sen. Poe for mentioning them), indigenous people (IP), persons with disabilities (PWD), seniors, etc. — in the context of human rights.

I like that she will pursue peace negotiations with ALL rebels.

I love that she wants a separate Emergency Management Department that will focus on national preparedness, climate change and geo-mapping. In a disaster-prone country such as ours, this is a top priority and a must.

Other Thoughts

That said, I want to hear Sen. Poe’s stand on scrapping all forms of pork, including Presidential Pork which is a huge chunk of the budget (e.g. almost 300 billion pesos in the 2015 budget according to former National Treasurer & Social Watch Philippines lead convenor Prof. Leonor ‘Liling’ Briones. These lump sums  — major sources of corruption — are historical (usually Marcosian in provenance) and legal anomalies and should be scrapped (#ScrapPork).

And how do we know that she will make good on these promises? Well, we cannot see the future, but my impression of her speech — and based on my personal interactions with her (we met with her when she was MTRCB chairperson when we were working on the MTRCB Reorganization Bill during the term of GMA, and also met her socially) — is that she is sincere.

However, it is our duty, as voters, to interrogate / grill her — and the rest of the candidates for that matter — about how she will realize her programs. In other words, we should also educate ourselves. When we are enlightened, we will KNOW when a candidate is pulling our collective leg or if he or she really wants to serve us or has our best interests at heart. Educating ourselves also means that we keep our potential public servants honest. In other words, when we educate ourselves, we educate the candidates as well — mapapaisip din sila.

And yes, we should also scrutinize the people around the candidates. It is incumbent upon us to ask each candidate how his or her governance will be influenced by these personalities. Asking the right — and tough — questions regarding platform, governance, and the candidate’s team of advisers will give us an idea.

That’s it for now. Mahaba pa ito, and abangan na lang natin ang mga susunod na kabanata. 🙂