SIX candidates. One slot.
Of the six regarded as viable aspirants among over a dozen vying for Vice President in the 2016 elections, four are from the Bicol Region–Camarines Sur Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo and Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan and Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes 4th.
The other two are Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., from the Ilocos Region, and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, from Metro Manila (Taguig City).
Votes from Bicolandia will obviously be split among the region’s beloved daughter Leni and sons Chiz (from Sorsogon), Gringo (also from Sorsogon) and Sonny (who traces his roots to Albay), with people from there given an excruciating loyalty test of sorts to pick whom they think is the best among the four candidates from Mayon Volcano country.
As of 2010, when the last presidential and vice-presidential elections were held, Bicol had a voting population of 2,774,327.
Trillanes will likely garner the most votes among the four Bicolanos, partly because the rebel Magdalo group to which he belongs supposedly has become a well-organized political machinery nationwide, a big turnaround from its anti-government past.
He was behind bars when he ran for senator in the 2010 polls and it is expected that he will harp on the “martyr” that he was when he aced his first-ever stab at political office.
The Magdalo rebel-turned-senator, however, lacks experience and he seemed not to have gained much of it in his last five years in the Senate, especially in 2015 when he appeared to be more of a staunch ally of Malacañang–rather than a senator of and for Filipinos–in investigating perceived political enemies of the Aquino administration like Vice President Jejomar Binay and his alleged dummies and cronies.
The perception is that Trillanes–who is running as an independent under the Nacionalista Party–is not his own man, a weakness that the voter had thought should have been shown by a non-military man instead (he was a former Navy lieutenant).
Honasan, supposedly still enjoying support from some groups in the military and from transport organizations across the archipelago, will take the No. 2 spot behind Trillanes.
Malacañang, however, is not taking one more audacity from the former military colonel-hero when he helped engineer the 1986 EDSA bloodless revolt to heel when he tried seven times to unseat then-President Corazon Aquino–the mother of the incumbent President Benigno Aquino 3rd and chief benefactor of the uprising–until shortly before she exited in 1992.
The Palace will not be taking to Honasan kindly, the wound still unhealed especially that inflicted on President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who was said to have been in harm’s way during one of the failed coups led by the former colonel.
The third and fourth spots are a toss-up between Robredo and Escudero, with Leni having the edge because she carries no political baggage and is seen to banner the good-governance legacy of her late husband Jesse.
But she is an unknown commodity outside of Camarines Sur and has little to brag about in her resume as a lawmaker.
Besides, having played coy before she accepted the offer of the Liberal Party to be the running mate of its standard-bearer, former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, may backfire on her, the wait-and-see stance smacking of indecision.
Chiz is deemed to have not been forgiven by fellow Bicolanos when he did not support the presidential bid of Raul Roco–from Bicolandia and supposedly the only one from the region who had a real fighting chance of bagging the country’s top post in the 2004 elections.
He instead threw his support behind “Action King” Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ, late father of Sen. Grace Poe, who is running for President next year, with Chiz as her running mate.
Filipinos are said to have short memories but who can be sure with Bicolanos?
Chiz, according to a report, did little to help his constituents during the eruption of Mount Bulusan in Sorsogon in June last year and against a mining company that allegedly had brought environmental destruction to an Albay municipality in the early part of this decade before it was reported to be lined up for decommissioning.
At the time of the mining issue, he was a congressman representing the First District of Sorsogon and apparently defaulting on his mandate to defend the locals there from any threat to their environment and daily life.
No Bicolano has become President of the Republic.
And, from the four-person batch bannering Bicol Region in next year’s balloting, it is unlikely that the first Vice President will be produced by that mix, either.
In which case, Marcos may just pull the rug from under our feet.
Well, the “sins” of the father are said to be not the “sins, of the son” or, for that matter, of the daughters or the widow.
Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile recently said the Bicolano vote having been effectively split by the candidacies of Escudero, Honasan, Trillanes and Robredo augurs well for the possible “victory” of Marcos.
If that result materializes from the 2016 elections, then Philippine politics will have come full circle–after almost 30 years, another Marcos will be back in the Palace.
But is the “Solid North” a myth, that supposed voting bloc like no other that will produce a “winner “ in Bongbong?
It probably is, if you think that the Iglesia ni Cristo vote also is, but then the story has not been debunked conclusively.
Evidently, that bloc has stood behind the Marcoses, come hell or high water, with a little help from Imelda country–Leyte–as well as possibly the rest of many other provinces in the Visayas.
Besides, Bongbong has been “adopted” by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a Visayan from Iloilo like the former First Lady, as her running mate under the People’s Reform Party.
Cayetano is a non-contender, as he is waiting for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to pick him as his running mate for the senator to be able to hitch his wagon to the reluctant “star” from the South.
The problem for Cayetano is that the mayor is not running for anything, including the presidency.
In these parts where the president and vice president are voted on separately, the senator’s cause is a lost one.
But there’s no harm for him to try again in 2022 or beyond.