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Who Should be the Next President of the Philippines

ake no mistake, the next elections will be one of the most important—if not the most important—elections the country will ever have.Grace Poe, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, and Antonio Trillanes III Never since the Philippines gained self-determination in 1946 has it faced such an existential threat from a hostile foreign country as it now faces from China.

The People’s Republic of China, in violation of international norms has decided to unilaterally annex parts of the Philippines and claim them as their own. They struck out at the Philippines because they knew that amongst all the claimants to the various reefs and shoals that dot the West Philippine Sea, the Philippines is the weakest militarily. In addition, its corrupt and inept government was most likely not to put up much of a fight. And from their dealings with the previous administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Chinese knew that if necessary, they could always bribe their way into getting whatever they wanted.

China is now set to militarize the many islands, reefs, shoals and banks that they illegally control—many of which lie within the Philippines’ 200-mile exclusive economic zone. Should this happen, the country will lose large swaths of prime fishing areas, in addition to the mineral wealth underneath the sea floor. And given their proximity to major cities, the Philippines will be under constant threat from a bullying China that refuses to play fair or abide by international norms.

This is what is at stake in the next election. This is why we cannot afford to elect anyone but the most experienced, most qualified, leader who can lead the country through this most dangerous of times.

None of the young turks eager to run for office appear qualified from our perspective. They may be young, eager, and motivated and honestly believe they will be the greatest Philippine president ever, but that does not make them right for the job. In the late ‘60s the country elected such a candidate for president. The problem was, that candidate (Ferdinand Marcos) turned out to be a tyrant who decided he wanted to remain president forever.

It is for all the above reasons (and then some) that we are totally unimpressed with all the relatively young and untested potential candidates such as Grace Poe, Chiz Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Antonio Trillanes III. We’re not considering Jejomar Binay or Rodrigo Duterte, for reasons too numerous to mention. Nor are we considering Mar Roxas who just can't get his ratings up and seems to have no chance of winning.

With regards to gender, the Philippines has already had two female presidents both of whom have been dismal failures as far as we’re concerned. Truth be told, Filipinas don't appear to be cut from the same cloth as a Margaret Thatcher, or an Angela Merkel, or even a Hillary Clinton. And because the next president will almost certainly have to face down an adversary like China … (Top) Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Sergio Osmena III, Richard Gordon. (Botttom) Alberto del Rosario, and Franklin DrilonGrace Poe gets another "no vote" from us. Miriam Santiago could have been considered, unfortunately some suspect she has a few "screws" loose and is liable to start a global conflagration, so she doesn't make the cut either.

So who do we want to see as president? Here are our choices (in no particular order): House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Senate President Franklin Drilon; former Senator Richard Gordon; Senator Serge Osmena; and probably Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. Any one of these senior statesmen have the necessary experience and political expertise to deal with the country's myriad problems including the Chinese, but more importantly, they have a long public track record of consistent service to the country. The Philippines doesn’t need another young hot-shot who will likely end up doing more harm than good. What it needs is an experienced, proven statesman. Published 6/23/2015

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