A quote for the would-be presidents

It was almost 30 years ago when Democratic Party strategist James Carville crafted the line, “It’s the economy stupid!” for Bill Clinton. Along with “Where’s the beef?” it has become a classic political line because it struck close to home for most voters.

Since then, most US presidential candidates have been trying to come up with lines that are just as memorable, with varying degrees of success.

The same cannot be said of Philippine presidential bets, who prefer to throw crass insults at their opponents instead of well thought of one liners.

This is indicative of the lack of maturity of the country’s political system as a whole.

Presidential bets rarely, if ever, discuss issues, even during debates.

I’ve referred to the Carville line on several occasions because it is so effective. And I use it now to write about the six serious candidates for president in next year’s polls.

Some will have the necessary appreciation of the importance of the economy to all, while others will turn to their handlers to give them an idea of what that damn economics thing is all about.

One candidate stands out for no other reason than she is a graduate of economics. Vice President Leni Robredo also happens to be a lawyer, making her that rare breed of politician who is adept at both the law and economics.

I can only recall the great nationalist Jose W. Diokno as the only other Filipino leader who was both lawyer and accountant. It’s a good thing he has a son, Chel, who is running for senator. A former dean at De La Salle University, where his old man graduated, Chel Diokno will make an excellent addition to the Senate, which is filled with too many jokers and clowns already.

Leni Robredo and her understanding of the economy is best prepared for the very serious problems that the country will be facing after Rodrigo Duterte steps down.

For one, the country’s external debt has again ballooned to frightfully high levels.

It will take a lot of doing to get the Philippine economy back on its feet. Imagine what would happen if the country had a president who was completely in the dark on what should be done to spur a recovery.

That dark scenario could happen if one Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. were to win.

The brilliant economist and former NEDA head Solita Monsod had mentioned on a previous occasion or two that she had tried to teach Marcos Jr. the rudiments of economics. It was like talking to a blank wall or a statue of Pennywise the Clown, she said in so many words.

The guy simply could not comprehend the basics of economics. For him, the gross domestic product or GDP may as well be the same as PGH or KSP or TNT.

To this we can only say, OMG. The Philippines will be in deep doodoo if this 64-year-old boy ever becomes chief executive.

I must ask, would any Top 1,000 corporation ever dare to hire him as their CEO? I think not. Yet here he is asking that he be elected President and CEO of Philippines, Inc.

I cannot imagine a bigger recipe for disaster.

Maybe, just maybe, a President Bato dela Rosa will be worse. But at least the former PNP chief has a college degree. A real one, not a fake Oxford diploma. But then, Dela Rosa has zero chances of winning next year.

Then there’s Senator Manny Pacquiao, who may also have an extremely limited understanding of the vagaries of the economy, business and finance.

The only good thing that can be said about him is that he has parlayed the billions he earned as a professional prizefighter into both a brand and a business which seems to be doing well.

Ping Lacson is a different sort of political animal. If Leni were not running, I would even vote for the former top cop. There are some things about his background that may be questionable, but this is negated by the number of good things I have heard about him. The fact that he never spent the hundreds of millions he was entitled to as pork barrel allotment speaks volumes of the man.

Then there is Isko Moreno, who also has a lot going for him. He took his studies seriously, which is one reason he has gone far in life. But everyone must be reminded that just a couple of years ago, he said he had no interest in the presidency, and that being as good a mayor of the Philippine capital was his only goal in life.

A few surveys have shown the Manila mayor as being in contention for the presidency, which is widely accepted as a one-on-one battle between Robredo and Marcos Jr. by most political analysts.

I would have to say that he is the likely third placer in next year’s race.

I am hoping that Filipino voters understand what’s at stake in 2022.

It’s all about the economy, and it would be stupid to elect someone whose only claim to fame is being his father’s son. His accomplishments in the economic field are nil.

The best example is his home province of Ilocos Norte, where he previously served as governor.

To this day, Ilocos Norte remains a third class province, with an underdeveloped economy still woefully dependent on tobacco as its principal crop.

In case Marcos Jr and his family who have had a stranglehold on the province for decades do not know it, the tobacco industry is dying. This was known for the longest time, yet they have done nothing to wean their farmers away from the useless crop.

Under Marcos Jr, the Philippines is sure to deteriorate from its current status as the returning Sick Man of Asia, to the Beggar of Asia. Like his father before him, only his cronies will control what little wealth the country has.

Under Robredo, however, the Philippines may yet recover to what it was during the time of FVR and be a Tiger Cub economy, or better yet, during the time of PNoy when the Philippines was a Developing Tiger Economy.

The choice seems obvious, doesn’t it?