Norman Patino /
In early February, GMA went on an unscheduled trip to Washington after an official trip in Switzerland. In both occasions, she failed to have an audience with US President-elect Barack Obama. Neither did she get a handshake with Obama, which a major photo-ops in the Philippine media. It seems that while GMA is desperately seeking Obama for her to get the legitimacy booze, the new American president doesn’t want his popularity tainted with GMA whose government is in the midst of another corruption scandal of a World Bank funded public works project and allegedly involving her husband.(Photo above: Sec Clinton and PGMA. http://jackmyers.daylife.com/photo/07xver6e0234r?q=Hillary+Rodham+Clinton)
Perhaps more important for the Obama’s “catch me if you can” gesture is send GMA the signals “to really clean up…” Various players, including the Pentagon, are working for a credible elections in 2010. GMA has the capacity and urge to cheat massively in the elections. These forces would not allow a repeat of the Hello Garci wholesale cheating that would put the country into another six-year political turmoil. Despite what the surveys and warnings say against the Arroyo administration, corruption continues unabated and invading even international finance projects such as that of the World Bank. Massive high-level corruption and the unrelenting push for charter change manifest the disposition of the administration to thwart the elections or manipulate its results. Manipulating the results of the election is more probable because pushing for charter change is highly-probable a dead-end for GMA.
Thus, breaking the cheating machinations of GMA, her husband and political operators is an urgent agenda. Some forces are even exploring the possibility of a replacement President de Castro before the elections. It is far-fetched possibility that GMA leaves the Office of the President voluntarily, unless a very strong legal-political-military environment forces her out. Through what? Too big a question that requires many improbable answers. But no one can say what is coming in a country with a very fluid situation – politically, economically and socially.(Right Photo; www.sahi.com.ph/
Fortunately for GMA, key political figures are already busy preparing for their 2010 campaigns.
Talks circulate that Chiz may run for the 2010 presidential elections in lieu of a possible GMA-Danding Cojuangco pact. The Nationalist People’s Coalition of Danding Cojuangco has maintained its “tilting-the-balance” strength as one of the political parties that form the triumvirate of a ruling coalition. GMA and Danding have common political and economic stakes in the post-2010 regime. This early, Chiz is building his image in the Obama mold – change and youth. Chiz is the most politically close protégée of Danding but will his popularity overcome the kiss of death once his campaign is identified with GMA? Chiz declared that he may decide to take the presidential challenge when he reaches 40 years old in December, the minimum age qualified by the Constitution for a presidential or vice-presidential candidate.
In early February, Jo Hansen, one of the key strategist of the US Democratic Party, was in Manila to share insights of the Obama presidential campaign. The Manila public fora of Hansen was organized by organizations identified with the Liberal Party of the Philippines. The LP had already declared that Sen. Mar Roxas is the party standard bearer come 2010. Is Roxas starting to gather support from the Democratic Party of the US? Roxas is building his campaign around Reform. Roxas is actively projecting himself as Mr. Botica besides being Mr. Palengke. Roxas’ Mr. Palengke label catapulted him to the top post in the 2004 senatorial elections.
Senator Loren Legarda, another presidential aspirant, maintains her morning presence in the popular radio station DZRH and close-second position in poll surveys. Legarda is anchoring on her popularity over Chiz to be the NPC standard bearer. Legarda has the advantage of giving it all-out for her presidential aspiration because she has the advantage of easily sliding to the vice-presidency to anybody. Senator Manny Villar, the most serious and untiring in building his campaign, has consistently and aggressively making his presence felt in the television and tarpaulins as savior of aggrieved overseas workers and the only one who hails and understand the plight of the poor. Villar spends more time going around the country than attending the Senate session. Villar has the most resources and political base but he also has the most attacks to confront with once the election fever reaches boiling point.
Poll survey front-runner Vice President Noli de Castro continues to keep his cards in the chest. But while hiding his aces, he is said running around opening his options to anybody including running for re-election again to anyone that could offer him victory and P2B. He seemed to have learned more than what Erap did in 1992 who started as presidential aspirant and later acceded to becoming Danding Cojuangco’s vice presidential bet with a P400-million goodwill. De Castro’s popularity is not enough to compensate his lack of resources and political machine to mount a presidential campaign. Both de Castro and Legarda were at par in popularity when they slugged against each other in the 2004 vice-presidential race but GMAs resources and machine won for de Castro.
As in many games of expectation, next year’s election will push through even if there are, if any, attempts at constitutional tweaking through charter change or transition government. Only question is, while election fever heats up, will there be a political environment for a credible elections? There are other factors that may effect in the nature of Philippine elections, dependent on how they unfold. Like the brewing effect to the domestic economy of the global economic meltdown; the full automation of the elections; the conjunctural change of voter behavior that were seen in the 2007 elections and the evolving partisan position of the key centers of legitimacy such as the church and religious groups, the big business, the media and the military.