THE Liberal Party is the nearest thing we have to a serious political party. It is the party in power, because President BS Aquino is its party chairman, and its members and allies have borne the burden of passing much of the Aquino agenda in Congress.
The LP platform seeks to continue the Tuwid na Daan (Straight Path) program of President Aquino. Key former members of the Aquino Cabinet, beginning with standard bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd, will stand for election in 2016 under the LP banner.
In a word, the LP is the party of Yes.
UNA as party of No
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), is the closest thing to a political party among all those who stand in opposition to Aquino. With the battle cry “Manhid at Palpak,” and Vice President Jejomar Binay in the lead, UNA has taken up the cudgels of opposing, criticizing, and annoying the Aquino administration.
UNA has crafted its own program of government, with a comprehensive set of policies that differs from the Aquino agenda. Binay has cobbled together an alliance of various small parties and groups across the archipelago and at grassroots level. He has oddly talked about a Cabinet without politicians, as though politics were a disease.
In a word, UNA is the party of No.
Poe-Escudero as Party of Maybe
Senators Grace Poe Llamanzares and Francis Escudero, who were elected to the Senate in the 2013 mid-term elections, started with just the notion that they are ready for prime time and could bid for the two top posts of the republic.
They started brainstorming for a presidential run when they found a couple of tycoons who found the idea of a Philippine plutocracy (rule by the wealthy) appealing and agreed to fund their run up to a point. They also found assorted politicians and groups from all sides who liked the idea of reliving Fernando Poe Jr’s presidential run in 2004. And they have the funds to buy fraudulent poll surveys up to the day of the elections.
Lacking a national organization, Poe-Escudero say they have a political party in the making called Partido Pilipinas, but its political credentials are as shaky as Poe’s citizenship and residency papers. Sometimes they identify themselves with BS Aquino, promising not to speak against him. At other times, they pretend to be the voice of generational change in national politics.
In a word, Poe-Escudero is the Party of Maybe.
Many permutations to come
The looming three-way fight for the presidency – Binay vs. Roxas vs. Poe — could undergo various permutations before the election campaign officially starts in February.
Besides fortuitous happenings arising from nature or physical health, there are some possible scenarios that must be reckoned with.
Vice President Binay could be derailed in his candidacy by the administration’s multi-pronged strategy to stop him. The Ombudsman, who has become a fire-breathing partisan, looks ready to do anything to stop Binay from being voted on, if she can get away with it. The banking authorities has ordered a freeze on all the bank accounts that were supposed to bankroll Binay’s successful march to Malacañang. The LP is aggressively courting known Binay supporters at local and district level to get them to transfer their allegiance to the LP ticket, by using the largesse of the national budget.
Grace Poe could be unseated from her seat in the Senate when the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) decides in November on the disqualification case filed against her on the ground that she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen. An unfavorable verdict could be followed by a decision by the Commisssion on elections (Comelec) to invalidate her certificate of candidacy.
While appeals to the higher authority of the Supreme Court are possible, the damage will be too much for Grace Poe to bear.
Her biggest financial backer could change his mind. There may be stockholder inquiries into whether corporate money is being used to prop up the Poe candidacy.
Mar Roxas is not deterred by administrative or legal obstacles. His shackles are personal and self-created. He is chiefly hampered by his appalling inability to connect with people, and his decision to embrace a hand-me-down program from an incompetent and self-absorbed president.
The decision of Davao mayor Rody Duterte to end with finality his possible run for president, has given the presidential race a little definition.
The decision of Sen.Miriam Defensor-Santiago to throw her name and her mouth into the ring introduces a new complication. This is a speculative pitch that seeks to find out whether it could catch fire. The prospect of debating with Miriam will be an unpleasant prospect for the other candidates to contemplate.
Since the filing of certificates of candidacy does not end until midnight of Friday, October 16, other names could still be entered in the presidential race. Some politicians, who have already filed their COCs, could switch political targets.
But the more likely permutations will be shifts in alliances and support. Philippine politics is notorious for the impermanence of loyalties
Catch the moment
A wise observer of presidential elections has written that a presidential race belongs to the candidate who can catch the moment.
His point is that a presidential election is about the country and the people, and not about the people running.
A presidential election is about the mood of the nation and the people – their problems, their peeves, and their hopes for the future.
The mood of our country at this time is total disbelief and distrust of the nation’s political class. People long to see the rascals kicked out of office.
In this presidential election, we are looking for the man or woman who can catch the moment, and offer the nation a positive way forward.
Aquino won’t be on the ticket come election day. But he will loom large over the exercise, whether we like it or not.
But whether he likes it or not also, his presidency will die on June 30, 2016.