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On Presidents, Elections, and Credentials

I saw this “infographic” on my Facebook feed. I couldn’t resist reacting.

Graphic from Showbiz Government Facebook page

I have commented on this already on my Wall. To repeat and expound further:

We have to point out that from 1946 to 1972, the Philippines had a two-party system (Nacionalista Party versus Liberal Party). Each party fielded candidates very well: labanan ng accomplishments at character. Thus, the credentials of these past Presidents. In short, their respective political parties chose them in the first place.

In 1935, Quezon def. former Pres. Emilio Aguinaldo and Independent Church Supreme Bishop Gregorio Aglipay.

[Note: Pres. Jose P. Laurel, although not elected, was a lawyer, too. He was also a Supreme Court Associate Justice for six years before the Japanese Occupation started. He was “anointed” by Quezon as the nation’s “caretaker” (due to his previous interactions with the Japanese) when the Commonwealth Government went in exile in 1942.]

Vice Pres. Osmeña succeeded Quezon after the latter’s death in 1944. Roxas (LP) def. Osmeña (NP) in the 1946 elections (the start of the two-party system).

Vice Pres. Quirino (LP) succeeded Roxas after the latter’s death in 1948. He won against former Pres. Jose P. Laurel (NP) and then-Senate Pres. Jose Avelino (also from LP) in the elections the following year.

Magsaysay (NP) def. Quirino in the 1953 elections.

Vice Pres. Garcia (NP) succeeded Magsaysay after the latter’s death in 1957. He won against former Sen. Jose Yulo (LP), Manuel Manahan (Progressive Party), then-Sen. Claro M. Recto (NCP), and Antonio Quirino (also from LP, brother of former Pres. Quirino) in the elections the same year.

Vice Pres. Macapagal (LP) def. Garcia in the 1961 elections.

Then-Senate Pres. Marcos (NP) def. Macapagal and Sen. Raul Manglapus (Progressive) in the 1965 elections. He also won in 1969, against Sen. Sergio Osmeña, Jr. (LP).

All aforementioned candidates since 1946 (except Manahan, Magsaysay, Manglapus* and Osmeña, Jr.) were lawyers. Also, each candidate had been elected and/or appointed to various government positions prior to the elections. Everyone finished college. (*Note: Manglapus was given an honorary doctorate law degree by Ateneo de Manila University.)


However, since 1986, the criteria of political parties and coalitions have shifted from credentials of its candidates to their “popularity”. This is what needs to change. The focus of the elections should be brought back to public service, not politics and entertainment.

Also, with an average of eight candidates running for the Presidency in every national election since 1992 (compared to an average of three in the pre-Martial Law years), it’s hard for Filipinos to choose the “right man/woman” to run the nation, because they can only vote for one person. Lots of factors come into play in their decision, so we really can’t tell or know for a fact how Filipinos vote. Every candidate has credentials they could be proud of, but it ultimately boils down to who the voters choose.

To be fair, here are the “aces” of the post-Martial Law Presidents:

Corazon Aquino graduated from the College of Mount Saint Vincent (an erstwhile liberal arts school for women) in New York City, and studied law for one year in FEU. She is the wife of former Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr.

Fidel V. Ramos was a four-star general, and fought in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He was Chief of the Philippine Constabulary during Martial Law, and the only AFP Chief of Staff who went on to become President of the Philippines.

Joseph Ejercito Estrada was elected Mayor, Senator and Vice President in a span of three decades before becoming President.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took her undergraduate, masters and doctorate studies in economics here and abroad. She was an economics professor in Ateneo and UP for ten years before entering government service in 1987.

Benigno Aquino III, besides his political pedigree, was a BS Economics graduate, becoming a student of Mrs. Gloria Arroyo at one point. He later took business-related jobs (including working for the family-owned Central Azucarera de Tarlac for five years) before entering politics in 1998.


IMO, wala tayong karapatang kutyain ang desisyon ng taong-bayan. Parang minamaliit mo na rin ang democracy niyan, eh. We have decided; let’s deal with it.

This infographic has one point, though, that stands: The electorate chooses from the candidates. Kung aayusin ng political parties ang criteria nila sa pagpili ng kanilang kandidato, sa tingin ko mas magiging interesante at mahalaga ang eleksyon sa Pilipinas. 🙂



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