MANILA, Philippines - The Philippines would have been either destroyed by civil war or now be a leading country in Asia if Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago became President, according to the outspoken lawmaker.
Santiago, in an exclusive interview with Korina Sanchez that aired on ABS-CBN News Channel Friday, said she sometimes thinks what could have been if she was declared winner over Fidel V. Ramos in the 1992 general elections.
"The thought crosses my mind, when I'm held up in a traffic gridlock and people are spitting everywhere and the high and the mighty are zipping through traffic," she said.
"If I were President, this country would be unrecognizable. I would have decimated it, we would have had a civil war, everyone was killed or destroyed or it would now be one of the leading, emerging markets in Asia," she added.
"I would have been assassinated first month, sigurado," the senator said.
Santiago lost to Ramos by less than 1 million votes. She later accused the former military general of cheating but her electoral protest was dismissed.
She said would have promoted the sense of community among Filipinos if she became President.
"We don't have a sense of community. We don't have a sense of shared destiny, that what happens to one of us will be experienced by others," she said.
"If I were president, I will emphasize that: that we should think of community. We don't think of ourselves," she added.
Santiago also said should would have espoused a strong 2-party system if she had become President.
"I would have insisted that they should have ideological differences. It all starts with the government, the government is the middle," she said.
Santiago cited the welfare-state view that government should provide everything to the people, "socialism from womb to tomb."
"The other view is that government should do the least possible thing it can do to society and leave the free market alone," she added.
She said this is the progressive-conservative divide that Philippine political parties should have.
"Sa ngayon, walang choice, because there is no ideology involved. It's all a question of personality," Santiago said.
"Unfortunately, our voter education is so feeble that it tends to produce feeble-minded voters," she added. "Binoboto nila dahil kursunada nila, gusto nila hitsura nito. They don't even try to imagine how that person will act as a legislator. Para bang popularity contest."
She said things could have been different "if we had a leader who wanted to challenge the system," and added that no President has made that challenge yet.
She said what the country has are the cliche leadership concepts of a "political thug" or a "pater de familia."
"No one has thought of himself or herself as a leader who could turn the world on its head," she said.