What the SWS sur­vey says about us

Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro - - Opinion - BY FRANK MALILONG

THE re­sults of the lat­est (Dec. 16-19, 2018) So­cial Weather Sta­tion (SWS) sur­vey on vot­ers’ pref­er­ence in this year’s sen­a­to­rial elec­tions make for very in­ter­est­ing read­ing.

Two of the three for­mer sen­a­tors who had been charged with plun­der and spent con­sid­er­able time in de­ten­tion as a re­sult, are among the fron­trun­ners, with the third one still within strik­ing dis­tance. An­other for­mer sen­a­tor, whose single big­gest achieve­ment in the Up­per Cham­ber was to chair the com­mit­tee on si­lence, is also a voter fa­vorite.

On the other hand, a bar top­notcher who holds the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the coun­try’s youngest So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral, lags far be­hind, a fate he shares with a law dean, who is the son of one of the coun­try’s most ad­mired politi­cians.

Bong Revilla, Jing­goy Estrada and Juan Ponce En­rile were crim­i­nally charged dur­ing the Aquino ad­min­is­tra­tion for the al­leged mis­use of their pork bar­rel amount­ing to hun­dreds of mil­lions of pe­sos. All three were de­tained although not in an or­di­nary cell where the ac­cused, who are com­mon peo­ple, usu­ally go but in a more com­fort­able po­lice hold­ing cen­ter.

En­rile gained tem­po­rary lib­erty in 2015 be­cause he was able to con­vince the Supreme Court that he was old and his health was fail­ing. He mirac­u­lously re­gained his strength not long af­ter that and last year, af­ter he filed his cer­tifi­cate of can­di­dacy, he ex­plained that work in the Se­nate is not a wrestling match.

Estrada also walked out of jail two year later be­cause the Sandi­gan­bayan ruled that there was no strong ev­i­dence to prove that he was the “main plun­derer” and al­lowed him to post P1.33 mil­lion bail. On the day that be was freed, Estrada said he told Revilla to remain strong be­cause some­day he would also re­gain his free­dom.

Estrada’s words turned out to be prophetic be­cause late last year, Revilla was also re­leased. Though Revilla’s free­dom came last, it was sweeter be­cause it was per­ma­nent as the court dis­missed his case.

Revilla and Estrada ranked 7th and 8th in the SWS sur­vey. Apart from hav­ing been charged with plun­der, the pair share one more thing in com­mon. They were ac­tors when they first ran for of­fice. To make it even more in­ter­est­ing, the can­di­date im­me­di­ately on top of Revilla is an­other ac­tor and for­mer sen­a­tor, Lito Lapid. Lapid sat (be­cause I can­not bear my­self to say he served, given his record) in the Se­nate from 2004 to 2016. I thought we had seen the last of him as a na­tional of­fice holder but here he is like a re­cur­ring night­mare, his stock no doubt boosted by his role as the side­kick of Kardo in “Ang Probin­syano.”

We do not only have short mem­o­ries, we re­ward non-per­form­ers. Look: Florin Hil­bay is a bar top­notcher, a pro­fes­sor of the Uni­ver­sity of the Philip­pines and a for­mer So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral who helped win our case against China over the West Philip­pine Sea. And yet, de­spite his im­pec­ca­ble cre­den­tials, Hil­bay did so badly in the sur­vey that his rank­ing was not even men­tioned.

Then, there’s the case of Dela Salle Uni­ver­sity Law Dean Chel Dio­kno, who is a son of the great Sen. Jose Dio­kno and who fared only slightly bet­ter than Hil­bay.

And we still won­der why the qual­ity of dis­course in Congress has de­te­ri­o­rated over the years?


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