Philippine politics begins to heat up as Team Ro-Ro takes Manhattan

CEO and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis urges 18 continuous years of good governance from Aquino to Robredo. Photos by Boyet Loverita

CEO and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis urges 18 continuous years of good governance from Aquino to Roxas to Robredo. Photos by Boyet Loverita

By Lindy Rosales

Much like American politics, Philippine elections are right around the corner.

Filipino voters go the polls on May 9 to elect a president and vice-president, 12 senators and 250 congressmen and sectoral representatives. It’s a battle between good and bad, honesty and corruption, built-from-the-ground political careers and family dynasties.

Grassroots campaigning has begun in earnest in New York with CEO and philanthropist Loida Nicolas Lewis, chair of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance (USPGG), engaging the community in a discussion on why Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo should continue the so-called straight path to governance – ‘Daang Matuwid’ — begun by President Benigno Aquino III.

More than a hundred people turned up at the “Let’s Talk Good Governance” meeting of January 15. They were there to show their support, be part of the conversation, or just listen. People came from as far as Chicago, Boston, and Connecticut.

The race for the Philippine presidency has generated an oddball assortment of aspirants. There is current Vice President Jojo Binay who has a string of graft cases filed against him; former Filipino American Grace Poe who renounced her U.S. citizenship so she can run for the presidency; Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is campaigning on the issue of crimebusting and being tough on drugs; and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who was a political darling of sorts until she decided to pick as her running mate the unpopular son of a former dictator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Lewis started with a Power Point presentation introducing presidential candidate Roxas, who was the Interior and Local Government secretary, and his running mate Robredo, widow of Jesse Robredo, who was chief of Local Government when he died in a 2012 plane crash. She presented a strong argument on why Filipinos need to elect officials who are not corrupt, why a candidate’s track record is more important than vote buying and short-term personal gains, why Filipinos need to look to the future of their country, and what the country need to reclaim its former glory and rise from the pit as one the most corrupt nations in the world.

Lewis said leaders who are not corrupt, will ensure the Philippines’ steady march toward ‘Daang Matuwid.’ The argument she presented to the crowd was that in order to return the Philippines back to its former glory and be a leader of nations again in Asia, the country needs 18 continuous years of good governance.

“This was started by Aquino (2010-2016), and to be continued by Roxas (2016-2022) and Robredo (2022-2028),” she said.

“Billions of pesos in investments by the government in people and infrastructure have already taken place, but this is just the beginning,” Lewis said. “Together with accountability, transparency and integrity, these are the foundations for a ‘Daang Matuwid.’”

One point that stood out is that more than half of the Philippine population of 102 million (54%) are under the age of 35. This makes them the largest body of voters who have little or no recollection of Martial Law, she said. It remains to be seen, she added, if this figure is going to be “statistically significant” at all in the coming elections.

Queens resident Robert Aguirre said he came to the meeting to learn more about the coming elections, although he is tilting toward the Roxas-Robredo tandem.

“I just want to know who is the best candidate for this coming election. If I didn’t go there, I wouldn’t know what’s happening. Maraming nagsasabi na hindi daw tuwid ang daan ng Aquino government, tabingi daw. There’s a lot of comments. But it’s up to them to decide. Wala ng iba, eh. Only Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo deserve to be the president and vice president,” he told The FilAm.

Juliet Payabyab, president of United Mindoro International, said she too is leaning toward Team Ro-Ro (Roxas and Robredo ).

“I believe that the two can continue what the current government has started. And they are the only team who can do that. I am rooting for Roxas and Robredo,” she said.

Restaurateur Rena Avendula said she was at the meeting to show her support for Lewis. She is still hedging on who her candidate is.

“She’s doing a great job for the Filipinos. You can see her sincerity, that she wants changes for the Philippines. I’m very proud of her,” she said.

As to who her candidate is, Avendula said the country “needs a disciplined person, one who’s true to the Philippines.”

The community meeting also served as a fund-raiser, where hats and shirt were sold and donations to the campaign were accepted. For those who missed the meeting, “Lets Talk Good Governance” is also being presented in Ohio, New Jersey and Philadelphia.

For more information, you can check the website

They came to listen, some with minds made up, others with minds still open.

They came to listen, some with minds made up, others with minds still open.

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