MANILA – Former Akbayan representative and University of the Philippines (UP) professor Walden Bello claimed that he was very much disappointed with the four possible presidential candidates for the coming national elections.
“My great disappointment with all four candidates comes through clearly since our country really can come up with better people,” Bello said in a Philippine Daily Inquirer report, referring to Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Senator Grace Poe, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte.
For Bello, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s preferred successor, Roxas, was a ‘nice guy, harmless and clean but unfortunately hollow.’
“He reminds me of passages from T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Hollow Men,’ especially the lines, ‘Shape without form, shade without color, paralyzed force, gesture without motion,’” he said.
The former House representative also questioned Roxas’ staying mum on several issues he was supposedly involved in, whereas he believed that what the country needed was a president who would ‘attack vested interests and not one who will protect them.’
“So whose interests does he actually represent except the Makati Business Club which loves him? He will maintain the social status quo, and this is why he’s harmless,” he added.
Bello described Poe, on the other hand, as a ‘blank slate’ and an ‘anti-Binay’ but not a candidate with a ‘discernible pro-people program.’
“I like Grace personally, but she’s a blank slate… [She is] simply someone with a famous name [who could compete with Binay since Roxas] does not have the mass appeal to be able to do this,” he said. “We don’t really know what she stands for at this point.”
On Binay, Bello only noted that the Vice President was ‘bad news,’ with numerous unresolved corruption allegations against him and his political clan.
“[His presidency is the] second coming of the corrupt GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) presidency… His approach is to say, ‘Hey, I’ll give you handouts like a cake on your birthday; all I want is for you to close your eyes while I also have my cake,” he said, adding that Binay did not seem like he really understood poor people’s struggles.
And with the mayor’s seeming disregard for basic human rights, Bello described Duterte’s presidency as the ‘second coming of the Marcos regime.’
“Unfortunately, given the crime wave and the deterioration in effective policing that took place under P-Noy’s buddy, former PNP (Philippine National Police) Chief Alan Purisima, many people are willing to give Duterte’s iron fist a chance and suspend their concerns about due process and human rights… I think that this is still a minority, though,” he said.