Carvajal: Betting on Manny

·2 min read

Senator Manny Pacquiao’s telegraphed intention to run for the presidency has drawn conflicting reactions. High-brows think he should not. With his modest educational attainment and quick stint in politics, they don’t think he can get a handle on the presidency of a politically and economically chaotic country.

But what do voters care? In farcical Philippine elections people do not vote for political parties, their contrasting social philosophies and governance styles. They vote for personalities and their honey-dipped promises of a good life. At best, voters decide which candidates have the most appealing promises. At worst, they go for the highest bidder for their votes.

If that is the case, and it surely is, then Manny’s prospects of landing the presidency are extremely bright. He will win the office as handily as he won a seat in the House and later in the Senate. He has the popularity, the money and an appealing promise — the three horses pulling a candidate’s election campaign carriage.

I can’t think of anybody more popular and in possession of a better name recall than Manny. He might also be the wealthiest candidate. Finally, his promise of ridding the country of “kawatans” (his exact word) in office is quite appealing in a country that is mired in poverty due to corruption in high places.

Yet, I don’t think we will be in God-help-us distress if Manny wins. He did not get his riches from unfair business practices or from corruption in government offices. His wealth is self-regenerating and does not depend on office graft and corruption to grow exponentially. Thus, his chances are good of ridding this country of “kawatans” in office.

I will vote for Manny, especially if I see sectoral leaders staffing his campaign and not the usual political opportunists. I am so done with traditional politicians who just want to get rich in office. I’ll take my chances with Manny who punched (pun intended) through the wall that separates the rich from the poor. Highly educated rich politicians have ruled us for more than half a century, but look what has become of us. We are the basket case of Asia.

Manny’s upper class status now does not guarantee he will bring to government the economic bias of his lower class origins. But I am willing to risk finding that out in the next six years. Anyway, to vote for traditional politicians is to vote for a sure-fire return to their traditional incompetence and corruption.

I still hold that structural change is the ultimate solution to the nation’s perennial social problems. Until that happens, however, we have to continue crossing our fingers on personalities. This time I’m done crossing my fingers on traditional politicians. I am betting on Manny.

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