MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/24 June) – That Senator Grace Poe has overtaken Vice President Jejomar Binay in the latest surveys on presidential hopefuls done by the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia sounds like good news for the Aquino administration. Not quite. Depending on what concessions would be offered and accepted in the acrid halls of transactional politics, some complications are in store for Malacañang and its tenuous coalition.
Aware of such reality, President Aquino has kept his allies guessing on his choice as his successor. Or if he has initially chosen one, he is still waiting how the alignments would play out as the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy nears. For the surveys, while instructive of the people’s sentiment, could not be relied upon to do all the wonders.
As the plot thickens, a sort of dark horse has emerged in the race for 2016 – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who has been selling himself as an independent, and using “federalism” as his battle cry. His tack has earned the admiration of many, but whether or not 100 percent of such admiration will translate into votes is another thing. Besides, Duterte is not in the radar of the Palace. He is too unpredictable and candid for comfort.
So for now, the top two options for Aquino are Poe and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas. Since Roxas gave way to Aquino in 2010, it can be said that the secretary is expecting the President to return the favor by endorsing him for the top post.
The scenario, however, is more complex than it seems. Despite his decreased ratings owing to allegations of massive graft against him and his family, Binay can still beat Roxas in a one-on-one contest. Strange indeed that Roxas’ image as the opposite of Binay when it comes to integrity has failed to reverse the survey statistics. The secretary’s only strength if he gets anointed is the resources at his disposal – from the administration as well as from his family’s business connections.
On the other hand, if Aquino picks Poe, such decision will lead to disappointment among Roxas’ loyal followers in the Liberal Party. They may only be a minority in the ruling coalition, yet they may prove crucial in a tight race. There’s no telling how their departure from Aquino’s camp would affect the outcome of the elections, although Poe’s supporters believe she has cemented her standing in the polls.
For the Roxas camp, their best move is to convince Poe to be his running mate in the hope that her unblemished record as public official would help improve Roxas’ ratings. Unfortunately for Roxas, history tells a different story. Former president Joseph Estrada was popular but his running mate, former senator Edgardo Angara, lost. And yes, in case Roxas forgot, he lost to Binay in 2010 despite Aquino’s popularity at the time.
If Poe has remained reluctant to go for the presidency, she might agree to be Roxas’ running mate. This arrangement will give Aquino less headache in trying to keep the ruling coalition intact but will give Binay’s camp reason to celebrate. For if the surveys are to be believed the vice president will win against Roxas hands down but will have to work hard for victory against Poe.
It seems that Poe, a neophyte and reluctant candidate, has become the obstacle to the ambition of two politicians who are determined to have their names writ in stone. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)