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This December 2013 photo shows Sen. Grace Poe speaking during a public hearing on the Committee on Energy at the Senate. (Grace Poe Official Facebook Page)

Hope, despair and Grace Poe

THE NEXT PAGEIt would have been an ominous anagram had it not been for a missing letter. The letters P, O and E that spell Poe, perhaps the most significant in Grace Poe’s name, have the same as HOPE, save for one that is usually silent, anyway. As anagrams go, it does not require brains to rearrange P, O and E into H-O-P-E once we’ve added that final letter. That makes it convenient for the intellectually challenged voting public.

When the late Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) was recruited as a foil against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the public knew he was not a politician, an economist or an administrator. We simply hoped for someone popular enough and untainted by corruption, perhaps heroic, or simply caring, as a counterpoint.

While Arroyo had in her arsenal the Commission on Elections, Poe had popularity. Had he not fallen victim to infernal cheating, he might have been president. Inherited popularity explains the eventual appointment of Benigno Aquino III in 2010, and, lately, the attraction of Grace Poe.

If only Philippine politics were as simple.

Rather than hope, despair seems to be creeping into our consciousness, clawing out from the nocturnal depths of Hades, where profound fears and nightmares churn and boil.

For those who take suffrage seriously, many are overcome with a sense of futility, given prospects that loom like dark storm clouds and ominous shadows. 2016 is inevitable. And it appears that our democracy will again suffer the perennial curse of having to compromise for the lesser among evils.

Denied real choices, the public is once more pushed into that dark corner where options surrender to simplistic criteria between clean and corrupt or competence and incompetence.

Analyze the coiled innards of our despair.

As past is prologue and ambition is a potent impetus, the interior and local governments secretary has decided be part of the 2016 derby – a decision forced upon him from a series of insulting alienations as incumbent powers seek more winnable bets who might keep them out of jail when their constitutional immunities expire in 2016.

It is undeniable that Mar Roxas might be as clean as a whistle. But did we not once imagine and were soon frustrated with the same with Aquino?

Worse, might Roxas be as tolerant of insidious collegial corruption as Aquino is; or, perhaps, even a tad more, given his propensity for partisanship, effectively aiding and abetting corruption via dereliction and implicit support?

Note kowtowing to dysfunctional political compromise, first at the Department of Transportation and Communications, given accusations surrounding the Land Transportation Office, and then at the DILG, given rampant extrajudicial abuses, increasing criminality and corruption involving the police hierarchy.

Undoubtedly, he wallows in partisan politics—the cesspool of compromise and corruption. Note his failed handling of the Tacloban relief crisis when such banalities took precedence.

Add serial episodes of temper tantrums, failed publicity stunts, a lack of compassion amid charges of ineptitude, and the total forebodes more of the same post-2016.

Some are pushing for Rodrigo Duterte—an option derived more from Aquino’s lack of leadership, his gullibility, and weaknesses than Duterte’s own machismo qualities. Unfortunately, Duterte has no national platform, much less the experience necessary to tackle critical global security and economic issues. Duterte is simply Wyatt Earp. But the country is not Tombstone, Arizona.

The frontrunner is Vice President Jejomar Binay—a diametric counterpoint to Roxas’s and Duterte’s fatal shortcomings. He has similar leadership qualities sans the brusqueness and insensitivity. Binay does not fly off the handle. He does not foist his ego over others. His poll rankings remain despite millions spent to demolish his popularity.

Critical corruption issues, however, continue to hound him.

Pity us. All three found our deepest despair where what hope we might still entertain depends on a facsimile and the unfulfilled promise of FPJ’s ghostly memory.

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