Of all the post-martial law presidential endorsements, only Mrs. Aquino’s anointed got elected. But the win remains a controversial one. And Senator Santiago’s never-ending broadsides against Mr. Ramos are rooted in that supreme confidence that she was cheated out of the 1992 presidential election. You will have a whole book with the compilation of choice words the senator had said – and still says – against her two bête noire: Mr. Ramos and Mr. Ronnie Puno.
Did trickery in the results from the two Ps—Pangasinan and Pampanga—and a few other provinces tweaked the final vote for Mr. Ramos? One of these days, that stain, that lingering question, on our electoral process will hopefully be straightened out.
Mr. Ramos endorsed Mr. Joe de Venecia, more to satisfy the choir, more to fulfill a fraternal duty, than to position a winner. Who would win in the 1998 presidential election was a settled issue from the day Erap filed his certificate of candidacy. Mr. Ramos went about delivering token endorsements of Joe de V., who went down in embarrassing defeat. Mr. Ramos did not push hard as he realized that his anointment was worth, quoting John Nance Garner, “a pitcher of warm spit.”
Erap never really got the chance to endorse a successor as he was booted out of office by EDSA Dos. And Erap’s common touch was limited to himself, a cinematic persona, and members of his political clan, mostly with entertainment backgrounds themselves. His charisma was not transferable. Mrs. Arroyo’s chosen, Gilberto Teodoro Jr., never had a Chinaman’s chance against his second cousin despite his impressive CV.
History tell us that except for the controversial win of Mr. Ramos, no incumbent in our post-martial law politics ever anointed a winner.
What will the 2016 campaign look like?
Reforms and continuity? Sustain the growth momentum? In 2016, history tells us, Mr. Aquino will be telling these to a tone-deaf nation. From 1992 hence, the departing president is a political lame duck months before the swearing in of the new president. And Mr. Aquino will not be an exception.
But it is not only the weight of history that bears down on the Liberal Party as it goes about its all-too-important business of ensuring a win for the LP presidential candidate in 2016. The present is also an unfavorable environment for the LP. The leading LP candidate, according to the surveys, currently gets the vote of not more than 15 percent of the surveyed—a figure as tragic as that of Joe de V.
The bench of the LP at the very top is not deep. Uninspiring even. They are so hung up on their own righteousness—stern most of the times—that they look like the Kremlin apparatchik during the days of the Cold War. How can the ordinary Filipino approach these dour-faced leaders to get relief from their heartbreaks and pain? Of course, the LP leaders have made it clear they are not cut out for that job. They are “reformers” remember? They can’t go to wakes, they are choosy on which disaster site to visit, they are beyond the reach of the ordinary man.
And out of this wariness and lack of connection, the ordinary man has tuned out of the growth and boom spiels of Mr. Aquino and the LP leaders.
Vice President Binay’s number are down in the recent surveys. But his figures are enough for a decent win, a respectable margin of victory over the other contenders. The other good news for Mr. Binay is that Grace Poe is now the consensus vice president in the surveys. She is the only name–so far–with a fighting chance against Mr. Binay.
The results of the December survey on presidential wannabes will be very crucial to both Mr. Binay and the LP. If the polls will show that Mr. Binay is still at the lead of the pack, then the LP will have to redraw its plans. The original plan was a stand-alone LP candidate. If the other parties in the coalition supporting Mr. Aquino do not want the LP candidate, fine. They can go on with their own plans.
If the December survey would show that Mr. Binay remains the candidate of choice of the majority despite being painted as the King of Sleaze in the Senate hearings, the LP cannot proceed with its stand-alone plan. The LP has to ally with the other parties, form a compromise ticket, and fortify the coalition to have a chance of sneaking past the UNA and Mr. Binay. Mr. Binay will just have to campaign harder – but with the odds stacked in his favor.
Under this scenario, the presidential candidate of the LP and the others in that coalition, will not necessarily come from the LP.
That scenario just hews to a recent statement made by Mr. Aquino that an outsider may be tapped to run as the LP’s presidential candidate in 2016. No more hard-line, cast-in-stone endorsements. The LP must have realized that Streamroller Nognog, indeed blackened to the last part of his swarthy anatomy, is about to claim the ultimate glory that LP leaders believe is theirs for the taking.