MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/22 May) – There is one thing that Vice President Jejomar Binay and his coalition, the United Nationalist Alliance, should do before taking former Bukidnon congressman Juan Miguel Zubiri into their senatorial ticket: They have to be clear if they need Zubiri or it it’s the other way around.
Politics is addition, but a wrong move could mean subtraction in the polls. This Binay and UNA has to weigh in deciding on the tiff between Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Zubiri, who carries the unsavory reputation of having “won” owing to the manipulation of the 2007 election results in Maguindanao.
Binay’s indecisiveness however suggests that he will decide based on practical considerations, not on principles much less on his longtime association with former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Koko’s father and founder of PDP-Laban.
PDP-Laban, Binay’s party, has allied with ousted president Joseph Estrada’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino to form UNA.
It’s understandable why Zubiri, at the prodding of his father, Bukidnon Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr., wanted to jump to UNA. Binay currently looms as the candidate to beat in the 2016 presidential elections. Like other politicians of their mold the Zubiris like to side with winners.
In other words, their move is nothing more than an act of opportunism. If in the future another pretender to Malacanang emerges and proves to be stronger than Binay, they will never hesitate to abandon the vice president, granting they will remain in the corridors of power after May 2013.
Migs Zubiri’s offer to Binay probably goes like this: Mr. Vice President, if you include me in your senatorial slate, I assure you that Bukidnon will vote solidly for you in 2016. His father endorsed Senator Manuel Villar in 2013, but the latter fared poorly in their vaunted bailiwick.
It shows that while the Zubiris can manage to draw huge numbers of votes for themselves – thanks to their habit of splurging money during elections – it doesn’t necessarily mean that their supporters will also follow their choice of candidates for national positions. History has shown that senators, vice presidents and presidents have won on their own merits and not because they were endorsed by local politicians.
Worse, if they fail to find a national party that will adopt them now that Lakas is gasping, the Zubiris may find it hard to maintain their hold on local politics. In fact, with Senator Teofisto Guingona and First District Rep. Emmanuel Paras just waiting in the wings for the right moment to strike, it may only be a matter of time before Bukidnon slips into another dynasty.
It’s no surprise then that Migs is practically begging for a seat in UNA’s train. It’s his and his father’s last chance against ignominy next year.
But if UNA junks the Zubiris, who knows, they may yet return to the fold of the Marcoses. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno writes mainly on the environment, human rights and politics. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)