MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 3 August) – As the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy nears, the list of aspirants for the presidency has been trimmed down to around half of the names that were floated earlier. Perhaps a few assumptions can give an idea why the others have chosen to fight another day, if not kissed their presidential ambitions goodbye.
For one, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has been muted by his poor showing in the surveys and his inability to deodorize his family’s name that still carries the stink of the Martial Law era. He has learned from the experience of former senator Manny Villar that a huge campaign kitty alone, although a plus factor, could not guarantee a good performance much less victory. At the most, he may take a shot at the vice presidency.
Former senator and now Yolanda rehabilitation czar Panfilo Lacson was also included as a contender. But his only strong credentials are his independent pronouncements vis-à-vis Malacañang and his having received no pork barrel during his stint as lawmaker. These however are being eclipsed by his alleged involvement in the Dacer-Corbito murder case and the Kuratong Baleleng rubout. He will likely settle for a comeback bid to the Senate.
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago meanwhile still commands a sizeable following as senator. Yet it would be a different ballgame when the presidency is at stake. Her medical condition and feisty image may not sit well with voters who view her public display of tantrums as a liability for someone holding the highest political position. I see her retiring from politics when her term ends next year.
How about Senator Alan Peter Cayetano? He talked and screamed a lot during the Senate subcommittee hearings on the graft accusations against the Binay family as well as after the Mamasapano encounter. He also put out several TV ads that ironically mimicked Vice President Jejomar Binay’s “Sa Makati” line, and grabbed every opportunity for media mileage. Everything looked good but only while it lasted. The ploy did not translate into better statistics. Maybe he would lobby to be the running mate of any of the candidates for president.
This leaves us with three aspirants – Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Binay and Senator Grace Poe.
Roxas has been endorsed by President Aquino last week as the Liberal Party’s standard bearer. It was a move that was long in coming but inevitable. After all, Roxas gave way to Aquino in 2010 in response to popular clamor.
The president is pinning his hopes for Roxas’ victory on his integrity as public official and on Binay’s consistent slide in surveys owing to corruption charges against him and members of his family. Of course, don’t forget the inherent advantage of being the administration candidate and the financial resources and connections of the Roxas-Araneta clan.
Aquino wishes to strengthen Roxas’ bid by wooing Poe to be his running mate. But it seems the neophyte politician is bent on running for president, initially with Senator Chiz Escudero as her running mate.
Unfortunately for Escudero, the Nationalist People’s Coalition and the Nacionalista Party, the parties that will adopt Poe and finance her campaign if she decides to run, has junked the idea of pairing her with the senator from Bicol. That means that Poe would end up teaming up with Marcos Jr., Cayetano or Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. So what will Escudero do as a political orphan? Run with Binay? It’s not farfetched given how he engineered Binay’s victory in 2010 through the sneaky “Noy-Bi” tactic which caught Roxas flatfooted.
So here’s the scenario: A three-way contest is shaping up, one that will split the pro-administration votes between Poe and Roxas. However, I see Binay and Poe getting more votes than Roxas. What appears now as a three-way fight will be reduced to a duel if Poe rejects Malacañang’s offer to be Roxas’ running mate.
Wait, what about Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte? I’ll tackle that in the next column.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)