Now that campaign season is in full swing, it’s time to start thinking seriously about who we’re going to put in the positions of power that are up for grabs in May. First up, the highest position in the land. Here’s FN’s guide to the presidential platforms of the five top placers in surveys, appearing in alphabetical order according to political party. More importantly, we give you food for thought as to what you must consider over and above what those platforms say.


fn_elections_presidentiables_gordon.jpgStandard bearer Richard “Dick” Gordon is running on his previous accomplishments as the leader who made Subic prosperous after the US bases were closed down, and as the incumbent head of the Philippine Red Cross and its charitable work. Both of these are premised on his staunch belief in volunteerism as an act of nationalism, which is why it is no surprise that his “Manifesto of Change” responds to what he sees as “apathy, indifference, and demoralization” alongside the “fear, hopelessness, and helplessness” of the Filipino in the midst of poverty. His response to these all-encompassing issues is for every Filipino to take responsibility for the nation, beginning with a change in attitude. The rest of the platform is sparse, with two statements each for relevant issues, so we don’t have much to go on. You may also want to learn more about Gordon from his interview with Cosmo.PH or the profile on PEP.PH. His official website is


fn_elections_presidentiables_teodoro.jpgGilbert “Gibo”Teodoro Jr. knows only too well how his affiliation with the incumbent government is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he has had media mileage longer than his fiercest competitors, but on the other, how much of this mileage has actually been good for him? Teodoro’s platform of government zeroes in on national issues of education (add two more years to the curriculum, ascertain education for everyone), agriculture (turning farmers into entrepreneurs), governance (regional autonomy and proper use of the pork barrel), and the economy (the need for innovation), all premised on what he asserts as his selfless leadership. Over and above his platform though, consider that despite his time in government that he could’ve milked for media mileage, Teodoro was mostly absent from our consciousness until he ran for president. That is, except for when he, as head of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), proved unprepared for the disaster that was Ondoy. Learn more about him from PEP.PH’s Election Watch profile or from his official website, Gibo.PH.


fn_elections_presidentiables_aquino.jpgHe was the first to admit that he is running under pressure from what he deems as public clamor, and this kind of honesty seems to be what Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is consistent with. We listen to Aquino and his rhetoric is clear-cut, to the point, walang bolahan. But his platform leaves much to be desired. It focuses on moving from current governance to what is imagined to be a new and changed one, and while this means a longer list of issues, the “from this–to that” strategy also only scratches the surface of any issue, using grand statements of encouragement and discernment, creation of opportunity and reduction of poverty, justice and anti-corruption. The latter is at the center of Aquino’s platform, which he sees as the root of all our problems, even when his campaign has yet to connect, say, corruption on the level of Malacañang to the problems of education. What Aquino has going for him other than his lineage though, is a stark clean reputation. But the other side of that coin is really whether or not he has done anything for the nation as senator. There is too the question of Hacienda Luisita and its oppressed farmers, which Aquino refuses to categorically respond to. Find out more about him from PEP.PH’s Election Watch profile or from his official site, Noynoy.PH.


fn_elections_presidentiables_villar.jpgThere is no other candidate who has had media mileage the way Manuel “Manny” Villar has. Anyone who watches TV or listens to the radio knows of his whole discourse against poverty and his promise of eradicating it altogether. But how will he do this? In fairness to Villar, his platform actually answers this question as it speaks of an economic development program that’s sustainable and pro-people, with the goal of enforcing an agrarian reform program that will mean stronger and more productive domestic industries. For this economic program to take flight, the platform ties together a reassessment of globalization and trade liberalization, the need for good governance and justice, respect for workers’ rights and the improvement of basic social services. Villar’s is actually the most detailed and concrete of all these five presidential platforms, going as it does beyond motherhood statements and superficial assessments. But then there is the bane of Villar’s existence: the C5 road project and the lavishly unacceptable lifestyle, both of which bring claims of corruption to his doorstep. PEP.PH has a profile on him and you can visit for more information.


fn_elections_presidentiables_estrada.jpgIf there’s anyone who’s running on old glory, it can only be Joseph “Erap” Estrada. The sad thing is that he doesn’t seem to realize that this old glory wasn’t exactly glorious, and his “Erap Para Sa Mahirap” slogan has already been proven false. His current platform still hinges on the latter slogan and gives you the sense that what it depends on is a system of dole-outs and the building of cooperatives. This kind of micromanagement was proven problematic, if not ultimately incapable of solving our poverty problem, the first time Erap was president, so you can’t help but ask: what makes the present different? But in addition to that, the more important question would be: why would we vote for someone we’ve ousted once before as a nation? Learn more about Erap and his platform from his official website, Erap.PH or from PEP.PH’s profile.

In the end, while looking at these presidential platforms of government is important, realize that these platforms are but words. As many of these candidates prove, sometimes even the written word fails to give us a sense of who deserves our vote. So listen to these candidates in public fora and debate—it’s usually there, in all their live glory, that we get a sense of who is most sincere and ready to take on this challenge that is the presidency. 

Last two things. One, take note of that fact that many of the issues mentioned in this article are not precisely discussed at length by any candidate, and two, not one of them has spoken categorically for the Reproductive Health Bill, which is about women’s rights more than anything else. All in all, this gives us a lot to think about before May 10.

(Photos courtesy of PEP.PH)

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