The papers on Saturday reported that Vice President Teofisto Guingona might run for the highest government office next year.

“I will continue to fight for the principles that I believe in. I will continue to fight for the Filipinos, 68 percent of whom, according to the latest statistics, are very poor,” the Inquirer quoted the Vice President as saying.

When asked if that means he would run for president, he said it “may include” that although he is not sure about it yet.

Guingona has been calling on the youth to support his crusade against Charter change, saying it endangers the Philippines’ national patrimony.

During a gathering of students and activists in Letran last July 4, Guingona said we should not allow foreigners to exploit our resources because these are gifts to the Filipino people from God. (For his part, former Senator Wigberto Tanada, in his speech exposing the bad effects of globalization on the Philippines, said we must push for a nationalist economy.)

Throughout the history of his political career, Guingona–a true nationalist– placed himself on the people’s side. His consistency and deep understanding of our nation’s history would make him a good president.

He’s been having differences with with President Gloria Arroyo because while she acts as if she is US President Bush’s spokesperson in Asia, Guingona chooses to uphold and defend our sovereignty.

Some people would say, however, that at 75, he is too old and not popular. But wasn’t Nelson Mandela also 75 years old when he became president of South Africa? Also, we need principled, not popular leaders.

In Conrad de Quiros’ article about Guingona after the latter resigned from the Department of Foreign Affairs last year, he wrote he is glad that the principle of self-reliance as an alternative to globalization “has found a spokesperson in the second highest official of the land.”

He continued:

“The second highest by law, though by reason easily the highest official of the land: He earned his right to glory, Gloria did not. He himself is the best argument for his cause, particularly when he cajoles us to stop crying over spilt milk, there is no lack of things we can do amid adversity. He has restored my faith in the Filipino.”

Meanwhile, Prof. Luis Teodoro has this to say about the vice president:

“What the Arroyo government–what the country–needs are in fact more Guingonas, it being so patently clear that he is an exception to a distressingly uniform belief in the wisdom of Philippine engagement with US purposes to the possible detriment of Philippine interests. Guingona isn’t the problem, but part of the solution.”

I think we must give Guingona this last chance. For him, it’s now or never.

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  1. Guingona is one of the few brilliant men we have in the government today, with genuine intelligence and love of country. Anyway, salamat sa bati sa birthday ko at sa pagpapakita mo sakin ng article mo sa peyups. it was truly inspiring.

  2. yes, he is indeed a freedom fighter and a great leader.

    but of course, he is not the messiah. our nation’s salvation lies not in a single person but in our collective action.

    but since “guingona isn?t the problem, but part of the solution,” as prof teodoro wrote, his election to the presidency could be one of those steps toward our collective goal.

  3. i believe in Guingona, too. not only because he’s a mindanaoan like me but also because of his continuing fight for freedom.

    is he the messiah for the Philippines? Not really. 🙂

  4. Guingona is indeed, among those who have been either rumored or reported to be planning to run forpresident in 2004, the only one who has any right to be president.

    Of course the Constitution provides that any natural-born Filipino citizen who is at least 40 years old, has resided in the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding the prsidential election may be elected president. But these are simply legal rights; by reason only Guingona, among those who are rumored to be or reportedly seeking the presidency, has any right to be president.

    For one his record as a nationalist is unassailable. He was among the Magnificent Twelve senators who voted to eject the US military bases from the Philippines in 1991, in effect voting for sovereignty against false security. He would repeat that feat eight years later by voting against the Visiting Forces Agreement. Recently he has also spoken against globalization and pressed for a nationalist economic framework.

    As an advocate of social justice Guingona deserves credit as well. He has recognized the fact that insurgency is rooted in social injustice and has been campaigning for peace with justice. While he as yet has to further clarify his views on this matter, he has shown nonetheless a deep understanding of our past and what it implies for the future.

    We all know that he is a fierce opponent of corruption. He was the first high government official to call for the impeachment of former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, doing so when the man was at the height of his popularity, and did not care about being branded a Don Quixote then. He would eventually be one of the senator-judges in the Estrada impeachment trial who would vote to open the second envelope containing evidence against the president on trial.

    His advocacy of human rights is clearly written in the annals of Philippine history. He was one of those who firsat fought the Marcos dictatorship, doing so both as a human rights lawyer and street parliamentarian. As a member of the government peace panel under the Aquino goivernment, he strove to carry on the late Jose W. Diokno’s formula for peace: “Food and freedom, jobs and justice.”

    No one else who has been aiming for a shot at the presidency can match all these. Moreover, Guingona has come across a lot of opportunities to compromise his convictions, but he has remained steadfast, unlike so many who are fervent in their causes only when these are the “in” things.

    Age and popularity have everything to do with being president only in the minds of those who cannot, or refuse to, flex their mental muscles. Joey Lina was a very young man when he voted to let the Philippines remain a launching pad of US wars. Joseph Ejercito Estrada was the most popular Philippine president ever.

    And if his age and lack of popularity should work against Guingona in the coming elections, he can nevertheless be assured of a rightful place among the Claro M. Rectos, Lorenzo Ta?adas, and Jose W. Dioknos of this land.