What the SWS survey says about us
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?