Tuesday, May 11, 2004

"My Vote", by Winnie Monsod

.:A Clear Explanation:.

Anyone wondering why I'm all for Eddie Villanueva should read this. She put more or less all the things I said about Bro. Eddie over the past two or so weeks in one editorial...

My Vote
Winnie Monsod, PDI

It is not clear how many command votes the leaderships of the Christian denomination Iglesia ni Cristo and the Catholic
charismatic group El Shaddai really have at their disposal (some analysts have made a strong case that the "solid voting bloc" attributed to these organizations is a myth). Nor is it clear what considerations they took into account in making their choice. But, whether coincidental or not, the fact that their support for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came on the heels of the surveys showing her with a statistically significant lead, reinforces the suspicion that the overriding consideration in that choice is "winnability."

It's the ultimate in fence-sitting. They're not influencing the
course of events, they are influenced by them. Or put another way, they didn't bake the cake, they just put icing on it and then try to get credit for the whole thing. And if reports in the media about quid pro quos are accurate, they get huge rewards for this behavior.

The ultimate scam?

I am like these organizations in that I have taken a long time to come to a decision on whom to vote for. But no one can claim that I am jumping on any bandwagon or casting my lot with the "sure" winner, because I am voting for Bro. Eddie Villanueva.

And no, it is not because I was looking for a messiah, as my friend Amando Doronila would say. I defend my decision as a rational one, albeit one that took an agonizingly long time. And one that I shall be transparent about, at the risk of offending the candidates and their supporters.

For each candidate, I compared what was going for and what was going against him/her, the pluses and minuses, if you will, applying what is called marginal analysis, the classical tool for optimal decision-making. I eliminated the candidates who had more going against them than for them (where the marginal net yield was negative) and then dealt with the remaining three by trying to determine which one presented the highest marginal net yield.

It may sound straightforward, but it is anything but. I was not
comparing financial costs and benefits, where it is a matter of
arithmetic. We are talking about positive and negative attributes, which do not make for easy comparison, for how do you compare, let alone measure, not just the quality but also the quantity of experience, or past performance, in different fields? What weights are to be given the attributes?

And I was trying to do this in my mind, rather than practicing what I preach, which is to list down all the attributes, and then group them if the lists turn out to be unwieldy.

The actual process I followed sounds more like a chapter from "The Perils of Pauline." I eliminated Fernando Poe Jr. and Panfilo Lacson at the outset, and I feel what happened in the campaign period reinforced that decision. My initial rule of thumb was that there were minimum conditions that each candidate had to fulfill, which for simplicity boiled down to: a soft or warm heart ("malasakit" -- an overriding concern for the problems of the poor and marginalized sectors) and a hard or cold head (the ability to prioritize, to solve problems in the most efficient manner, to make sure that the good intentions of the soft heart were not paving a road to hell).
Thus, Poe was out because in my opinion he has a soft head, and
Lacson was out because he has a hard heart (the tortures during the Ferdinand Marcos regime and the killings during his stint under Joseph Estrada haunt him).

My choice narrowed down to Ms Macapagal-Arroyo and Raul Roco
(Eduardo Villanueva was not initially in consideration since I
didn't have the information on him, and it was hard enough choosing between Ms Macapagal-Arroyo and Roco). In terms of arrogance and lack of people skills, they were about even.

Roco had a clear edge over President Macapagal-Arroyo in the
corruption issue, because neither he nor any member of his family was tainted. He also had the edge on decisiveness, as well as sticking to principle. Ms Macapagal-Arroyo had the clear edge on economic understanding, but one, after all, does not have to be a Ph.D. to be an intelligent consumer of economic information. So, overall, I was inclined toward Roco.

But I got sidetracked: There was the fear that voting for him might lead to a Poe victory (why does one always think that the Filipino people are dumb?). And I leaned toward Ms. Macapagal-Arroyo again. Then Poe started to self-destruct, and it is hard to say whether he hurt himself more by opening his mouth or keeping it shut. And President Macapagal-Arroyo's appointments to the Commission on Elections were so obviously self-serving, so totally me-first-before-country that I could no longer ignore her shortcomings. She may be the least in a corrupt field, "the lesser of two evils," but it is still a corrupt field, and it is still "evil."

At the same time, information on Villanueva became available, and what I saw and heard was impressive (the fact that former secretary of economic planning Ciel Habito stood four-square behind him made an impact). Villanueva brought to the table administrative experience (running a three million-strong organization), a good reputation among his colleagues, no political baggage of "utang-na-loob," or debt of gratitude, to politicians, no taint of corruption -- and a clear and credible platform (corrupt politicians talk about fighting corruption, and you want to puke).

So my choice was down to either Roco or Villanueva. Then Roco had medical problems. And while he has come back, and is ready to take on the world, Villanueva still has the edge in health (let's face it, the presidency is a 24/7 job), and in the political baggage department.

And that explains my vote.

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