THE RECENT CHAT Â between President Noynoy Aquino before leaving for Â abroad with Â Senator Grace Poe-VP Jojo Binay’s chief rival for the 2016 presidency (Â per the surveys) – brought” cheers” and “chills” alike.
“Cheers” to those who think the president had cherry-picked the daughter of the disenfranchised presidential candidate FPJ (during the 2004 elections vs GMA) to be among the President’s Coalition’s candidates in 2016.
The President admitted the meeting Â was about the “2016 national polls” and the dream to preserve the gains of his “Matuwid na Daan”Â beyond the end of his term in 2016. Having said that -it cannot, therefore, be about Pnoy’s bid for reelection for that issue has long been buried.
It cannot but be: Â Grace Poe’s being considered for either the presidency or the vice presidency of the President’s Coalition-precisely because the lady senator’s next Â national bout with the electorate will still be in 2018- if and when she seeks reelection after a first place runaway finish in Â the 2013 senatorial race.
“Chills” it will be for all Â the vice presidential aspirants who will face a giant brick wall bearing the faces of FPJ, Susan Roces and Senator Grace with her sterling records in both the senate and the MTRCB (movie and Tv review board chairman).Senator Grace is a “sure ball” vice president -no matter who she is paired with (per surveys)
Over the weekend, the senator confirmed the Pnoy meeting – though both she and the president would not pinpoint exactly her designated candidacy: whether as Â president or vice president. Grace Poe had earlier Â intimated she is daunted by the high challenge that the presidency brings but is at the same time awed by the prospect that only a president would have the largest of means to make a difference in the lives of all Filipinos.
Others say there is such a thing as “novelty”- which does not last Â forever. And right now- going to 2016 , the senator has the largest chance of winning “one -on-one” vs the long-time leader VP Binay. She was consistently in the lead pack for the presidency (for many quarters) cupped by a scintillating March survey results bringing her at a 31% voter preference, in a statistical tie with Binay whose political fortunes have been cascading in an incredible speed downwards at 36%.
President Pnoy was careful in elaborating that -it is not just his Liberal Party who will have a say as to Â who he will endorse as his successor in 2016 -but a broad coalition of NGOs, civil society, business and other sectoral interests. In fact, it was a “Coalition of Believers” that brought his Team Pnoy into a resounding victory in the 2013 senatorial-including Senator Poe- and the local polls.
The statement was specifically crafted since Senator Grace is not a card bearing LP but a true-blue Pnoy supporter.
It is also politically crafted so that those disillusioned with the misbehavior and incompetence of some of the LP members in the Cabinet and elsewhere -regardless of Pnoy’s immaculate image-might cause Â in them a negative effect that will Â boomerang against the LP candidate.
If the LP -as a party and some of its stalwarts – are deemed by the public as “tainted”- we can already see the Opposition spokesman the Â spike-haired Rep Toby Tianco readily Â pouncing Â on the LP Â saying how dare you call our candidate Binay corrupt- “it is just a case of you- a Â pot calling a kettle black”, when they are of the same color. A Senator Poe as presidential bet under a broad Coalition could Â slightly deflect that political brick bat.
LP leaders like Rep Edgar Erice would, of course, drumbeat that a tandem of DILG Chief Mar Roxas and Grace Poe would be “unbeatable”. We had propagated this argument to death in this space Â (for so long) that a strong VP candidate does not always win the race for the tandem-partner in the presidency. The eventual winners: Â VP Erap Estrada could not do it for Danding Cojuangco; VP GMA could not do it for Speaker Joe de Venecia.
A popular VP’s votes are not always translatable to the presidency. Besides, Senator Grace had always been ahead of Roxas in the presidential survey (more than half at Â 31% vs 15%) and in the vice presidential survey. Â Why should a Roxas-Poe be “unbeatable” and not a “Poe -Roxas” tandem. Is there logic in the numbers?
The drum beaters talk about an 18-year “continuity” of Good Government from Pnoys (2010-2016) to presumably Roxas’ (2016-2022) and Poe’s (2022-2028). What is wrong with reversing the two (Roxas and Poe) – Â as that will achieve the same results and Roxas will just have turned 60 years old Â in 2022, young enough to be a dynamic president.
But before one can talk of 18 years of Good Governance, the Coalition must first win the 2016 race- and right now, VP Binay is such a formidable rival, despite the graft charges that perhaps only Â a brave, stainless Joan of Arc Â could be the best bet against him. It would be literally a black vs white tussle , in more ways than one.
We are not saying that Roxas does not have both integrity and competence. Boy, the man’s got them,both. But Â maybe one has to be practical – does he have the political Excalibur to be able Â claim the Â Holy Grail – the coveted crown in 2016? The past many surveys do not seem to say so.
And one must not count the endorsement of President Aquino out. He is still one of the most popular presidents since after Marcos with the following average approval ratings: (2010) 62%, 2011 (53%),2012 (53%), 2013 (55%) and 2014 (36%). This Â 36% drop was due to the DAP and PDAF issues and it Â hurtled down to 11% in March Â 2015 due to the Mamapasano Incident.
But the president has all the chances to increase his ratings in the remaining Â three more quarters in 2015. and a full quarter of 2016.
Even her beloved (by Filipinos) mother Cory Aquino exited with a final approval rating of only 7% when she left office; FVR at 19%, Erap at 9% before he was ousted by People Power II and GMA a shameful (-53%) in March 2010.
In fact, GMA was so distrusted – she had all negative ratings for 5 and half years -after the Â 2004 Hello Garci and the Hyatt 10 scandals. There is also Â absolutely so much respect for Pnoy abroad and that also Â represents a local clout among voters.
Can one finally imagine -what a “packaged product” Senator Poe would be with an Aquino endorsement? Don’t underestimate President Aquino , Rep Erice said , ” he is a political genius”. Doubtless. Even a mere passive endorsement by Erap will seal the deal for Senator Grace.
Things will play out very soon- Korina Sanchez-Roxas has just spoken for her husband and said Mar will declare or not declare his candidacy by June 2015. By October, the certificates of candidacy will be filed. That’s just several winks away.
Guess what else Noynoy and Grace spoke in that meeting – where Roxas was reported to have later joined .A ton of guesses, there Â is.
But from Â this corner – one thing is certain – the LP and Senator Grace need each other in 2016.
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