By Jun Ledesma

Reporma’s criteria didn’t spare Miriam

August 25, 2021, 11:59 pm

REP. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez seemed to be careless these days not only about his health but his utterances. He can be tactless with his off-the-cuff statements and this had brought him some troubles in the past and then …now.

In a recent interview with ANC Christian Esguerra, Congressman Alvarez talked about the criteria which his Partido Reporma had in search for a leader in the 2022 (Presidential) elections. Bebot appeared to have difficulty articulating his points one cannot be certain whether he is weighing in his response carefully or is catching up his breath. But one thing I can say while watching that interview is that I am seeing a different Pantaleon Alvarez. If anyone thinks I am creating an intrigue then watch to believe.

I have heard that set of criteria for the nth time. Alvarez had bannered in his “In Search of a Leader 2022” forums early this year. This was abbreviated, however, when he was hospitalized for what looked like a severe case of Covid-19.  He survived that one and went on to resurrect Partido Reporma. How he convinced Senators Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto to join Reporma and be the standard-bearers, meaning its candidates for President and Vice President, respectively, is still perplexing. Did Lacson and Sotto really believed that Partido Reporma is the ruling party in Davao Region? Oh well, this country is not actually short of strange bedfellows during election season. 

Alvarez criteria for a leader, during the launch of “In Search for a Leader 2022” reflected his subconscious detestation of Presodent Rodrigo Duterte and snide remarks on Davao City Mayor Inday Sara. During the interview with Christian Esguerra, Bebot sounded less combative as he evaded issues against Duterte: 1. May utak (with brain); 2. May kakayahan (with the capability); 3. Physically fit; 4. Has experience; and 5. Mentally and psychologically fit. 

Alvarez, however, went beyond the bounds of moral principles when he expounded on “mentally and psychologically fit”.  I was expecting he will cite some cases of perennial candidates with weird platforms who filed their certificates of candidacy but are promptly disqualified by the Commission of Elections. But he went on to say “Mahirap naman yong may ‘trililling’ at may sayad ang utak” and went further by recalling the Presidential elections of 1992 which pitted Fidel Ramos of Lakas-NUCD against  Miriam Defensor Santiago of People’s Reform Party. “Senator Santiago did not survive that," Alvarez said. 

That one was a real shocker. What I know of is that Sen. Miriam is among the intelligent and courageous lawmakers we ever had. Her unblemished career in public service, which spanned the three branches of government, can stand scrutiny. Schooled in the most prestigious universities she brought honors to the country and was once named one of the most influential persons in the world. She was on her way to cap her legal career with a prestigious seat in the International Court of Justice but cancer came in the way. 

The youths love and adore her. Her witticism and crisp delivery of searing criticisms have yet to be equaled. She ran for President again in 2016. In a final debate among the contenders, it was the turn of candidate Rodrigo R. Duterte to ask  Sen. Miriam D. Santiago a question: “I am facing a woman who could become the President of this country. What can I ask of you? It is an insult to ask a question of such a learned woman. My question, Ma’am, is how are you today?” That’s how the man who became President looked up to and addressed Lady Miriam. 


About the Columnist

Image of Jun Ledesma

Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.