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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Importance Of Being Nancy

When I first heard that the Vice President defended his daughter's entry into the senate lineup of the United Nationalists Alliance (UNA), verbalizing her advantage into three simple words ("She's my daughter"), I thought it was a joke. Little did I know that there were actual news reports that highlighted this now-famous statement. (See

(Courtesy of

I have personally nothing against Nancy Binay. She satisfies all the requirements for running as a senator of this country, she is a graduate of the University of the Philippines (BS Tourism), and has been the personal aide of both her parents, both politicians. All these considered, she is a far cry from what I consider more wail-worthy, people who are current or has-been artistas (celebrities), parlaying their (shining or decaying) fame into another facet of public life, whose only credentials are that people know of them.

When people made fun of her for being "merely" a personal assistant to her parents, I didn't join in the fray. I know that behind famous/powerful people are the unknowns, the ones who do the nitty-gritty so that those who face the public can appear freshly scrubbed, ready to flash their pearly whites. It's also a backhanded insult to personal assistants everywhere, because, let's face it, they are the gatekeepers to those in power, aside from being privy to many sensitive matters.

Her lineage is what's making her flash warning signs all over. This is, quite simply, a political dynasty in the making. No longer content with their local fiefdom known as Makati City - the country's financial heart - that the patriarch has anchored his kingdom on, it looks like the Vice President is setting his sights on a broader scale. Both father and daughter (Nancy) have been interviewed about this particular subject, and - surprise, surprise - none of them object to political dynasties. (That would be akin to asking gun owners how they feel about making guns easier to purchase.) 

(See for the "dynasty of service".)

Whenever the Constitutional provision prohibiting political dynasties is brought up, the knee-jerk defense of these politicians has always been "but there's no enabling law!" It reminds me of a relative who once followed the nothing-after-6PM diet: by 5PM, a veritable feast of seafood, fried pork and other roasted delicacies would be served, and this relative would spend the entire hour finishing everything in sight, and drop it all once 6PM struck. 

Habang wala pang 6, sige lang ng sige. (It's not yet 6PM, I'll eat everything in sight.)

How can an enabling law about it pass, when the very legislative body that is tasked to do it is chock-filled with the spouses, children and assorted relatives of current politicians, who are enjoying their positions by the  veritable absence of such a law? (Our own President cannot claim moral ascendancy on this, as two of his relatives are running for the Senate, as well.)

But even this, I can (maddeningly) overlook, seeing as there is no legal way (as of yet) to compel all political relatives to desist from running for pubic office. (Obviously, delicadeza, parining and patama are not that persuasive. Neither is doing the right thing.)

My reading of her was reinforced by a recent incident, brought about by a meme that compared her with another candidate, Risa Hontiveros. Aside from the fact that Hontiveros had a glaring ace in her corner -  she has no relatives in office, compared to Binay's number of 3 - their qualifications and experiences made Hontiveros stand out, miles ahead. (A former legislator, leader of an advocacy group, known supporter of the RH Bill, and women's rights)

So when Hontiveros asked Binay to go into a public debate with each other, to better inform the public about what it is they stood for, I welcomed the idea, as a way to form a more objective assessment of Binay. I resolved to keep an open mind, with the intention of getting more information and qualifying my choices.

Alas, we were all denied.

Binay has resoundingly rejected the offer to debate, saying that she will only do that, if she wins her run for the Senate. If her performance in the surveys is any indication, she has the seat in the bag by a comfortable margin. (She is usually ranked 4 to 6 in a race for 12 slots.) For now, she intends to concentrate on the campaign.

Incidentally, a new meme has come out, in response to Binay's refusal to debate.

The top part shows her with the words wala akong panahon para mag debate. The bottom half shows her in what appears to be a shot of her campaigning, dressed in her party's colors, doing that (in)famous dance by Korean star Psy, the Gangnam. And, in between, the hashtag #BinayPriorities.

When people are given the benefit of the doubt, it is usually prudent to make the most of it and erase these doubts. If I was a candidate that was feeling hurt from all the negative press I was receiving, I would welcome the chance to showcase my advocacy and intelligence in as public a manner as possible.

But then again, I could just choose to dance on stage.

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