In tribute to the former Senate President Jovito Salonga, who was deemed as the one of the greatest president we never had, let us have a quick rundown on other distinguished countrymen who had the chance of taking the highest seat of the country but fate said no (in no particular order, except the special and honorable mention).
Number 1. Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro
Qualifications and experience wise, Gibo is able and capable in stirring the entire country when he ran for the highest way back in 2010. However, his candicacy was tainted because he was running under the banner of the very controversial and then president, and now Pampanga Representative, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Number 2. Richard “Dick” Gordon
Administrative wise, Dick Gordon may have been the best candidate for the highest seat among the candidates when he tried his luck for the presidency a couple of years ago, but like the other candidate, the heavens didn’t want him to win the seat. Gordon is known to stir Olongapo from an unknown place into a first class municipality. He also saved the SBMA from savagery, like what happened in Clark, and turned it into a freezone that generated millions of jobs both residents and non residents of the province. Gordon is popular with his leadership and enigmatic personality but it was not enough for him to be president.
Number 3. Miriam Defensor-Santiago
Asia’s Iron Lady, a multiple awardee, both from inside and outside the country, and probably one, if not the, sharpest knife in the Philippine politics had her chance during the 1992 elections but bowed down to then popular EDSA 1 star Fidel V. Ramos. Santiago, a current senator and presidentiable aspirant, was deemed as one of the best president ever we never had, due to her steel like character, charm, and wits.
Number 4. Jovito “Jovy” Salonga
The former Senate President was known to be a staunch opposition of the former president Ferdinand Marcos. Although he gained notoriety as a strong opposition man against the dictator, all his life, he had been fighting for the Philippine freedom. During the Japanese occupation, he joined the resistance army and was captured and tortured by the Japanese soldier (in front of his father), only to be pardoned by a high ranking Japanese official. Ka Jovy (as fondly called by his close friends and colleagues) had the highest qualifications, not to mention his love for the country, during the 1992 election. He was the most popular candidate for the younger generation but was defeated because of his age at that time. One factor that was brought up as to why he failed to nail the presidency during the 1992 election was his age. During the election, he was already 72 and many feared that he may not live his reign, but proved them all wrong. He died in March 10, 2016 due to cardiac arrest at the Philippine Heart Center of the Philippines.
Number 5. Jose “Pepe” Diokno
Like the former Salonga, Diokno is also known to fight against the martial law and was also a receiver of torture, incarceration and exile. A lawyer by profession, Diokno was the founder of the Free Legal Assistance Group right after he was released in jail during the martial law, and one of the few individuals to both top the BAR and CPA examinations. Diokno died of lung cancer on February 27, 1987. in 2004, He awarded the Order of Lakandula with a rank of Supremo, which is the highest honor, on the category. In addition, by virtue of a Republic Act (9468), a 4.38 kilometer Bay Boulevard, from Pasay to Paranaque was renamed Jose Diokno Boulevard.
Special and Honorable Mention. Andres Bonifacio
Unofficially, historians consider the Supremo as the country’s first president and not Aguinaldo, since it was heacvily rumored that the Tejeros Convention was rigged, right before it started. Come to think of it, Katipunan was the cornerstone of the Philippine Republic, and how fitting it is to put the founding father of the organization as the president of the country he fought for and wrongfully (but for the wrong reasons, thanks to Aguinaldo) died for. Although, he was not recognized by the government or any history books as the country’s first president, the Philippine government provided him and Rizal a dedicated holiday for their heroism, the Bonifacio Day which is celebrated every 30th of November and Rizal Day on every 30th day of December.
In a matter of months, we will be once again picking a leader who will drive for us for six years, and of the 5 candidates, there is definitely a candidate which will be added to this list.