Samson Alcantara on Political Dynasties and the Elderly

The second and final Harapan 2013 Senatorial Debates of ABSCBN last night included nine of the remaining candidates who took the challenge of subjecting themselves to public scrutiny in the last two weeks before the May 13 elections.   

With the same panel - veteran journalists Linda Jumilla, Tony Velasquez, and myself – in attendance, I started the question and answer portion of the show with senatorial candidate Atty. Samson Alcantara.

With the limited available on-line and printed platform for Alcantara, I asked the following question:  

Madalaas banggitin sa eleksyon ito ang isyu ng edad ng kandidato. Sinabi po ninyo sa isang interbyu na dapat nang tumigil sa pulitika sila Erap at Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) at pagbigyan naman ang iba.

Pero kayo rin po ay senior citizen na, kung di ako nagkakamali 77 years old. Ano ang kinaiba ninyo kila Erap at JPE na sila ay dapat tumigil na sa pulitika at kayo naman ang dapat pagbigyan ng botante.

(The issue of age has been constantly raised in this election. You have been quoted in media interviews that Erap (former President Estrada) and Juan Ponce Enrile should retire and give way to other leaders.

But you yourself are a senior citizen. If I am not mistaken you are 77 years old. What is the difference between you and Erap and Enrile such that they should retire from politics while you should be given a chance by the voters this election?)

Alcantara answered the first part of my question very well. He said that it’s not an issue of age but of political dynasties. That Erap and JPE have been in public office like forever while other leaders are not given the chance to serve. Good answer!

But then he went on to say that we should not underestimate senior citizens and discussed the merits of seniority and the wisdom that comes with age. Which made me think, then Enrile and JPE should be in public office!

And he didn’t answer my second question on why he, and not Enrile and JPE, is a better choice. What he missed out in his answer is not the facts. He missed the opportunity to mention facts that could sway the voters to vote for him this May 2013. That he was a bar topnotcher (3rd place, 1957 Bar Examinations); author of law books (Philippine Labor and Social Legislation Annotated (Volumes I and II), Reviewer in Labor and Social Legislation, and Statutes); editor and publisher (The Philippines Labor Relations Journal); and Professor in political law and labor law at the UST, MLQU, UE, PLM, and New Era University.

He could have simply said – I have achievements and credentials that can stand up (or even superior to) JPE and Erap and my fitness for public office is on record.

Humble? Self effacing? Respectful? Or forgetful? You be the judge.

This fact check was conducted by University of the Philippines Vice President for Public Affairs, Prof. J. Prospero E. De Vera III, DPA. Vice President De Vera is a professor in Public Administration at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance in UP Diliman.


J. Prospero E. de Vera III
Author: J. Prospero E. de Vera III
Prof. J. Prospero E. De Vera III, DPA is the University of the Philippines System Vice President for Public Affairs.
Professor De Vera teaches Public Administration at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG) in UP Diliman. He has spent at least three decades in the policy arena working in the legislative and executive branches of government in both the Philippines and the United States.