UNDER a scenario where Sen. Grace Poe gets disqualified, Vice President Jejomar Binay is thrown in jail and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago quits over health issues, the only viable one left standing in the race to Malacañang in next year’s elections is former Interior chief Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, the standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
Of course, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte is still available to square it off with Roxas, but he had declared that he would chuck his bid for the highest post in the land if Poe was booted out because of questions about her citizenship and residency.
Duterte, however, will have to wait until early next year to know if the senator will still be eligible to run for President in the May 2016 polls, with the Supreme Court expected to rule in January 2016 on one of the disqualification cases against Poe.
Meanwhile, the mayor could just relish the Commission on Elections (Comelec) accepting his certificate of candidacy (COC) for President on December 17, in the process ruling that his substitution of former barangay (village) captain Martin Dino of PDP-Laban was perfectly legal.
(Because as of December 18, a disqualification case against Duterte, also before the Comelec [First Division], had not been resolved, this commentary takes into account the pendency of the case).
Meaning, the mayor remains a contender for President under the PDP-Laban banner and he need not decide for now if he is opting out of the hunt, pending possible disqualification of Poe.
Even if the senator is thrown out of the presidential race, it is not far-fetched for the city mayor to renege on his palabra de honor, having lately “corrected” himself and without any trace of even false modesty, by saying he had killed 1,700 people, not 700 that he, after becoming a public official many years ago, was bragging about.
There will still be Roy Seneres left, however.
A former ambassador and now candidate for President, Seneres does not count at all, a situation made worse by his possible withdrawal from the presidential contest in the May 2016 polls if, according to reports, he is requested to do so by his San Beda College fraternity brother Rody.
The scenario effectively narrows down the vice-presidential rivalry to three: Rep. Leni Robredo, running mate of Roxas; Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Poe’s running mate; and Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., running mate of no one, despite Santiago “adopting” him as her choice for Vice President.
What about the three others dreaming to be Vice President–former senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan (under Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance ticket), Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes 4th (independent but running under the Nacionalista Party and with the backing of Magdalo group) and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (running under the PDP-Laban)?
They have set their sights on the vice presidency alright but their aspirations are clouded by the dilemmas being faced by their real or imagined standard-bearer or lack of one, in Sonny’s case.
Under the scenario where the incumbent Vice President landed in prison over alleged corruption, Honasan would have to fend for himself.
Trillanes also would have to, obviously with much more effort, which he has begun by apparently courting Poe and defending her right to become President.
Cayetano, whose bid rested on Duterte not backing out even if Poe was ousted by the Supreme Court with finality, sadly is not even grudgingly recognized by the Davao City mayor–Duterte has made it clear that he will support Bongbong all the way.
Uneasy with the possible absence of a standard-bearer, backers of Binay and Poe will have been thinking of withdrawing by now their financial support for the running mates of the two candidates (Honasan for Binay and Escudero for Poe).
Poe and Binay have been frontrunners in the presidential race, according to a number of surveys, until the senator was also recently dislodged by Duterte.
And so, how will Honasan, Trillanes and Cayetano mount a really serious, nationwide campaign for the presidency?
Under the circumstances, they will have to make do with short swings to the country’s major cities and provinces, leaving the “minor” ones to the other contenders for the taking of the vote and the goodwill of the probinsyano among the electorate.
Besides, Honasan, Trillanes and Cayetano simply lack the star–and, on their own, financial–power to stay the course, given the ordinary Filipino voter (the masa) treating any political exercise as an extension of show business.
Unless they know how to walk the tightrope, the three gentlemen have absolutely no entertainment value for the easy-to-please (no offense meant) barrio folk, meaning it would be hard to get their precious vote.
Which brings us to the artista clout or lack of it of Escudero (through now not-so-famous actress-wife Heart Evangelista) and Marcos (through big sister and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos and the family’s friends–through thick and thin–in the entertainment field).
Look, but Heart is no movie queen, at least not yet, making it hard for Chiz to field her as he barnstorms the country starting in February next year when the campaign period rolls off.
Robredo? She would seem unable to draw strength from any artista or artistahin to push her VP dream, although her supporters could hire for a modest fee actors and actresses to trumpet though songs and dances her credentials.
If she knows how to hold her breath for five seconds, then she could regale the rural people, who perhaps, would reward her with their vote.
But wait, the reluctant Robredo need not go into that, what with President Benigno Aquino 3rd letting her sister Kris call on her hundreds of influential TV and film star-friends to shore up her bid for Vice President.
Or perhaps Kris could enlist the friends of Roxas’ wife Korina Sanchez in the broadcast community for added support to buoy up the Camarines Sur congresswoman’s candidacy?
And, maybe, Joshua and Bimby’s mom, a TV and movie star and brand ambassador (okay, product endorser) in her own right, could promise her celebrity pals a rain check in return.
Seriously, if popularity were the only measure of a candidate’s worth as a public official, then all the show-business types masquerading as contender for this post and contender for that post in next year’s polls would be voted into office.
Unfortunately, it is not, despite Joseph Estrada becoming President (the masses love the underdog) and Lito Lapid ending up as senator (the masses, again, love the underdog and more so because they look up to Leon Guerrero as one of them).
Even without Kuya Germs (star maker German Moreno) making public his known support for the Marcoses since way back when, Marcos the son looks set to stand out in the race for Vice President.
Of course, it helps that Santiago and Duterte are in Sen. Bongbong’s corner, without his actually having solicited their support.
So far, Marcos is the only candidate to have also declared that he would take on the Labor portfolio if his bid proved successful and if he was made to choose by the President-elect on what Cabinet position he wants.
People are apparently impressed by other people talking with confidence that they would nail the position they are aspiring for.
It seemed bold for Marcos to eye the Department of Labor and Employment.
For one, he had vowed to end contractualization if he became the country’s No. 2 government official, putting him in the line of fire of businessmen, some of whose accumulated, if not rising, fortunes have been built on casual employment (“probationary” period of five months, when the legal one is six months, the end of which stretch compels an employer to make an employee a regular worker).
Where others fear to tread, Marcos has rushed in, never mind that the Labor portfolio would make him the kuya (big brother) of hundreds of thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in dire straits or fine waters.
Unenviable is the role that he is asking to play, a shoulder to cry on for perhaps OFWs on death row or others on the run from abusive employers.
This week, Marcos took the cudgels for government workers–the rank-and-file–whose salaries, he said, are very much lower than those received by higher-placed state personnel, including legislators, Cabinet members, the Vice President and the President.
Neither Escudero nor Robredo has taken on any challenge ahead of the beginning of the campaign period.
The two VP wannabes have to be told: Sink or swim, the water’s rough but you will never know unless you wade into it.
Also obviously, Bongbong need not be told about it, even if two of his advocacies this early—banishing contractualization and raising salaries of public servants–would be hugely unpopular with Big Business and lawmakers who, ultimately, would determine if lowly clerks and nameless janitors deserved to be paid more than they do.