Presidential Race Heats Up this June

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Presidential Race Heats Up this June

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Cartoon editorial

THE CYMBALS, GONGS, thunder and lightning one hears these days  is not just  because the rainy season is  almost here.

These are  loud pre-election “war dance chants”  as the June poll surveys are done soon and the October deadline of the filing of certificates of candidacies is nearing.

We have a familiar feeling that there will be more than two presidential candidates in 2016-as had happened in all polls since after the 1986 snap elections- won by Cory Aquino via “People Power”.

So far, there are only two “declared” presidential bets in 2016- VP Jojo Binay and former senator Panfilo Lacson. Binay hides not his ambition; Ping Lacson declined his nomination to the LP senatorial ticket in April this year and said he wants to run for president. A subtle TV “advertisement” with the zing “ping” in the end confirms his bid.

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Many  card-bearing LP ,today,  is breaking his jaw professing loyalty  to LP |”putative” candidate DILG chief Mar Roxas,although they had qualified President Noy Aquino will  still anoint his candidate in July after the SONA and they are likely to fall in line with the president’s wishes. They profess the president had allowed them to campaign for Roxas with all their strength -why shouldn’t Nonoy?- after all the former senator is their titular head on leave? It would be awkward for the president not to mandate so.

Political pundits believe that -that does not mean Pnoy will endorse Roxas- who gave way to him in the 2010 polls. They even extended their analysis stating  that the  Roxas sliding to VP was a pragmatic move since Noynoy in 2010 had the best chance (not Roxas) -after her mother’s  (Cory) emotional death-  to beat Erap Estrada and then early survey  favorite NP senator  Manny Villar.

The field today  is narrowing by the day. Senator Miriam Santiago has accepted the limitations of mortality and is attending to her battle with cancer. Senator Chiz Escudero is in bliss with their union with actress Heart Evangelista and working for  the good graces of Heart’s parents who –ab initio- did not fall for the Bicolano senator’s charms and said ” 2016 is not my year for the presidency” and will support senator Grace Poe “unconditionally”, either as her spokesperson or her vice president.

Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte is ending his “federalism” country tours soon and said the only way he will run for president is if the surveys (in June) will show him at 92% or he will overtake Jojo Binay- none of which are likely to happen. Besides, as “The Punisher” claimed :” God is the first one to cry if I run for president.” He is also 76 years old- no more spring chicken for an arduous task as the president of 100 million people in 7,000 islands.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada is seeking reelection that is why he rewarded his vice mayor Isko Moreno -a slot in the senate opposition ticket because Erap failed to keep his promise by running for reelection, instead of the youthful Isko as next Manila mayor in 2016. Estrada is also bent in transforming Manila- his birth place- into the “Golden City” it was in the years past.

Excluding Lacson, that leaves the remaining March SWS front runners for the presidency : Binay (36%), Grace Poe (31%)  and Roxas (15%) to be in the running going into the June 2015 surveys.

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Despite all the mud thrown at him, VP Binay’s eyes are fixated  on the 2016 elections. There are only two things that can stop him: the “plunder” issue and his health.

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The VP is expected to  soon contest in the Supreme Court the “plunder” (a non-bailable offense once convicted)  case against him at the Ombudsman since he claims as vice president , like the president , he is “immune” from legal suits. There are legal eagles who opine otherwise stating that  the “immunity” clause  does not apply because the offenses involved occurred when VP Binay was still Makati mayor and not as VP or even as head of the “land thrusts ” of the government.

The prospering of the “plunder” case could write finis to the colorful Binay candidacy.

The legal eagles further elaborate that  the “presidential immunity” was founded on the spirit that with the multiplicity of functions of a president, he would be impeded by court cases (if allowed by law) unlike a VP – who is only a “spare tire” and given a specific function as member of the president’s cabinet.

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At 73 years old next year, Binay will become the oldest Philippine president elected at large, surpassing Sergeo Osmena who was installed president at age 66. FVR was 64 (1992) when elected president and left the office at the age of 70 (1998). In fairness, no health issues have yet been issued against the vice president, thus far.

His other woes include the inability to court and convince a winnable partner for vice president. The supposed targets have declined Binay’s invitation. Businessman Manny Pangilinan says he is “a businessman,not a politician.”. Senators Poe and Chiz Escudero had both declined and are more inclined to work together as a team. Duterte is the “presidency (if ever) or nothing.” Sen Ralph Recto who is a dyed in the wool LP member says his wife governor Vilma Santos (Batangas) will retire from politics in 2016.

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Last week  the VP floated the idea of a “BEST” tandem- featuring a Binay (B)-Estrada (EST) duo- but Erap shrugged it off, saying he has been president before and he prefers to be Manila mayor; worse, he has shown equivocation, ambivalence as to who he will support if both his friends Jojo Binay and Grace Poe face off in 2016.  Erap’s son , senator JV Ejercito confirms such a difficulty dividing the Estrada family in that kind of  political choice. Even Darlene Berberabe, Pag ibig president, who has been mentioned as a possible Erap tandem ranked very low at 2.2% even for the position of  mere senator in the March 2015 survey. She is a non-entity in the big league.

To say the least, the VP’s candidacy is more than sufficiently challenged these days.

On the other hand, unlike the last years of GMA, President Noy still commands respect for his personal endorsement.His  recent positive net approval ratings vs. GMA’s 15 consecutive quarters of negative net approval ratings (up to 2010) also provides a study in deep contrast.

Perhaps corroborative to this would be the March SWS survey showing that if elections were held then for senators, Pnoy’s team would win 8-3(opposition) -1 (independent). The run-down of the March senatorial race showed (bold letters either opposition or independent, the rest pro-Pnoy):

Tito Sotto (59.3%), Ping Lacson ( 58.3%), ,Bongbong Marcos (47.2%),  Kiko Pangilinan (44.7%),Franklin Drilon (44.1%), Ralph Recto (43.9%), Leila de Lima (36%),  Serge Osmena (36%), Richard Gordon (35.5%),  Risa Hontiveros (33.1%) and Jamby Madrigal (33.1%).

Sotto, Marcos, Drilon, Recto and Osmena are reelectionists; Lacson has declined and Pangilinan, De Lima, Hontiveros and Madrigal have not yet declared their intentions. Reelectionist TG Guingona (LP) is also still in the running but currently out of the “Magic 12”. 

So, there. Expect the decibels of the bombs exploding grow in intensity as we come nearer to the October deadline of the official entry of candidates for the 2016 presidential polls. The nation is watching.

For comments: email to dejarescobingo@yahoo.com or bohol-rd@mozcom.com

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