Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This commentary was published in the November 25, 2009 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

Anything important is never left to the vote of the people. We only get to vote on some man; we never get to vote on what he is to do.” – Will Rogers

None of the presidential candidates have presented a platform, except Nicky Perlas. But he can’t get anyone to take his candidacy seriously.

The apparent absence of platforms led the Inquirer’s Manolo Quezon to write “Hi’s and Hellos in Three Stages.”

“Up to now, candidates have been introducing themselves, individually, to the public (who, after all, are also party members and whose preferences influence the party elders). In November, they will be introducing themselves as standard-bearers of parties with platforms to the same public to form coalitions (that form on the basis of public opinion). In February, they will be competing with the other candidates to convince voters like you and me, individually, that they, their platforms, and coalition partners, deserve our vote.”

So it’s not true that there are no platforms. It’s just that the time for presenting platforms only comes after a candidate makes himself likeable.

That sequence may strike some political pundits as doing things ass backwards but in the real world, that’s the way to sell products.

As a general rule, a salesman has to sell himself before he can sell anything. A disagreeable salesman will find it virtually impossible to sell a product, no matter how good it is.

What holds true for a presidential candidate does not apply to party-list groups.  A party-list group runs exclusively on a platform. That’s why in the party-list election, one picks a party, not a candidate. (But it would be nice to get to know party-list nominees because party-lists are notorious for being the last refuge of those who can’t get elected on their own merits.)

The idea that a presidential candidate should run exclusively on his platform may sound attractive but the ugly truth is a platform can be a Trojan horse. That’s why it’s important to look at the candidate’s character before anything else.
We are now entering the platform presentation stage of the campaign. So in fulfillment of my duty as a citizen and a newspaper columnist, I checked out what’s happening with the platforms.

Below are my findings:

Noynoy Aquino has a platform, but it was accidentally torched during the filming of his commercial.
Erap Estrada was scheduled to release his platform, but he accidentally spilled whisky on it.
Gibo Teodoro’s platform is ready, but he’s still waiting for Gloria and Mike Arroyo to approve it.
Joma Sison was writing a platform for Jamby Madrigal, but he developed writer’s block when she lost the battle for her aunt’s billions.
Bayani Fernando wrote his platform with pink ink on pink paper so it was impossible to read.
Hermogenes Ebdane’s platform was constructed without going through a public bidding.
Dick Gordon can coin slogans, but he can’t write platforms.
Bro. Eddie and JC de los Reyes handed out platforms written by desert dwellers thousands of years ago, but reporters refused to carry the stone tablets back to their newsrooms.

Manny Villar explained why he would wait for the other candidates to announce their platforms before he makes his public. “We will say the same things…we will have the same platform. For after all, a platform… dadalawang speechwriters lang iyan tatanungin ka. Anong gusto ninyo, 3-point agenda, 10 point agenda, 15 point agenda o 25 point agenda.”

Wowowee scriptwriters will write Villar’s platform.

I also looked into the platforms of the vice-presidential candidates. Below are my findings:

Mar Roxas’s platform is to motorize his pedicab because Korina is complaining about having to padyak to Farmer’s Market. Edu Manzano did not include Pinky Webb in his platform.
Loren Legarda’s green platform is very sensitive to political climate change.
Jojo Binay’s platform is being reconstructed because Erap spilled whisky on it, too.
Chiz Escudero will not run for any position in the 2010 election. He will now stand on a soapbox instead of a platform.