Tuesday, August 25, 2009


While we have almost twenty men and women who hope to be president of the land, and who, in one way or the other, have expressed such intent, we do not have enough men and women to fill up the slates of these presidential wannabe’s. Almost all those who have announced presidential quests have declared their intent to field a senatorial slate, but there are very few takers, as of now.

There are quite a number of re-electionists in the present Senate, namely, Senate Pres. Juan Ponce Enrile, his pro-tempore, Jinggoy Estrada, and Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Pia Cayetano, Jamby Madrigal, Richard “Dick” Gordon, Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Lito Lapid, even Mar Roxas, who, along with Dick and Jamby, would rather be president. Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Rodolfo Biazon are “graduating” after two consecutive terms, but while Nene’s Koko is yet hoping to unseat Migs Zubiri, Pong wants to bequeath his seat to his congressman-son Ruffy of Muntinglupa.

On the assumption that Mar goes for the presidency, while Jamby and Dick lower their sights to a re-election, the following are likely to run for senator once more next year: Enrile, Estrada, Defensor-Santiago, Cayetano, Revilla, plus Gordon and Madrigal. That’s seven. Lito Lapid wants to go back to the Pampanga capitol. Assuming that Koko’s protest is yet unresolved before November 30, he is likely to run for election, foregoing protest, as his father in 1998 did.

If we go by the Pulse Asia May 4-17 Ulat ng Bayan, most of these incumbents are doing well. The rankings are in this order: Roxas, Estrada, Pia Cayetano, Miriam, Revilla, Jamby, Frank Drilon, Ralph Recto, Koko Pimentel, Jojo Binay, Tito Sotto, Serge Osmena, Dick Gordon, JPE, Edu Manzano, Ted Failon, Juan Flavier, Lito Lapid, TG Guingona, and Ruffy Biazon in the top 20. All have high name recall.

Realistically therefore, if the incumbents seek re-election, they are likely to win, with the probable exception of Lapid, especially since he is likely to run, if at all, in the line-up favored by his kabalen Gloria. Drilon and Osmena, if they should run, are likely shoo-ins as well, unless Gloria Mac’s newest spokesman, Romy Mak, succeed in getting Comelec, and eventually the Supreme Court, to uphold his interpretation of the Constitution that hiatus between term limits and subsequent election ought to be an entire “term” of six years and not just three.

Thus, it will be a tight contest for those who hope to be senator for the first time. Well-known surnames like Biazon and Guingona, now borne by sons who wish to be senator also, have a decided advantage. Media and television celebrities like Edu Manzano and Ted Failon also have clear awareness that they only need convert into votes. The recent resignations of Recto as NEDA chief, and Manzano from the Optical Media Board indicate their desire to run for a Senate seat, and could be viewed as an attempt to distance themselves from a possible “kiss of death”, Gloria’s that is.

Recto may run with his Wednesday dinner partner Manny Villar, and Edu will be either with Chiz or Mar. Failon denies interest, but you never can tell. Erap is wooing him, and so is Mar.

In the administration ranks, only Pingkoy Duque of DOH and TESDA’s Buboy Syjuco seem raring to run with whosoever their Dona chooses, be it Noli or Gibo. Running with them would be re-electionists Miriam and Bong. If he does not run for a local post in Quezon City, Tito Sotto might make another try, also with GMA’s choice. Or, eschewing her kiss, he may also line up to Villar’s money.

Tourism’s Ace Durano and Education’s Jesli Lapus are likely to run with their political party, the NPC, with either Chiz or Loren as standard-bearer. That will save them from Gloria’s “kiss”.

As of now therefore, the Gloria candidate can count only on Miriam and Bong, Duque and Sotto, as senatorial candidates, possibly with Lito Lapid if the Arroyos do not give him back the kapitolyo in San Fernando. Pichay might try once more, and resurrect himself as a cabbage this time. So there: Miriam, Bong, Duque, Syjuco, with Sotto, Pichay, possibly Gary Teves, and no more at this point in time. Maybe Pagcor’s Genuino, who also dreams of the presidency. Mike Defensor is reluctant to make another run.

But Miriam wants to collect 200 million if Villar will get her, and Teves is also being wooed by the owner of the Nacionalista Party. His sister, Bebot Teves, is the mother of Rajo Laurel of the Nacionalista Laurels. But Gary has to improve his ratings, with 71% awareness and a conversion rate of only 2.8% as of mid-May this year, no matter that he is touted as Asia’s best finance minister. Still a long way to go to reach Number 12.

Who will run with Erap? Senate President Enrile has indicated his desire to join Erap in his jeep, along with Jinggoy, of course. If Jojo Binay decides to lower his sights, he most likely would join Erap too, either as vice-president or as senator. But Erap’s run is chancy, no matter what his lawyers say, now including Koko Pimentel, who might also end up running for senator either with Erap or Villar. What happens to these candidates if the Supreme Court declare finis to Erap’s re-run? You can’t win as a vice-president with no president, nor as senator abandoned by your presidential candidate. And surely the wise lawyer-politician that Enrile is, he knows that. He just does not want to hurt a friend’s feelings nor bruise his ego.

Which is why JPE, Jinggoy and Binay are likely to have “reserved” seats in the tickets of either Chiz or Mar, just in case. That makes it easier for the two candidates to choose only nine more candidates. Mar will have Drilon, Biazon, Risa Hontiveros, Leah Navarro, Cory Quirino, possibly Neric Acosta. Quien mas? Jamby and Dick, in case they reconsider their presidential quests.

But JPE, Jinggoy and Binay would likely run with Chiz instead of Mar. To them, the NPC would likely add their Ace Durano, Jesli Lapus, and Ompong Plaza of Agusan. And Chiz, if he is chosen the NPC standard-bearer instead of Loren, will try to add his former congressional buddies TG Guingona (who is with the NP) and Ted Casino of Bayan, plus Edu Manzano, Toots Ople (Ka Blas’ daughter who runs a foundation helping workers and OFW’s, and FPJ and Susan’s daughter Grace Poe.

As for Villar, he has Pia Cayetano, Adel Tamano, Satur Ocampo, Col. Ariel Querubin, possibly TG Guingona, most likely Ralph Recto, and of course Miriam, if Villar thinks that at 200 million, up-front, she is worth it. Maybe he can ask Roy Golez to forsake a mayoralty run in Paranaque, and try his luck in the Senate. Vice-Governor Rolex Suplico of Iloilo has decided to seek his old congressional seat in Iloilo’s sixth district rather than risk a chancy and expensive senatorial run. Butz Aquino’s name is mentioned, but he personally confided that he has little desire to run once more.

In the wings, mentioned as a senator-hopeful, is Rep. Bongbong Marcos of Ilocos Norte, who is close to all the four leading opposition presidential wannabe’s --- Erap, Chiz, Villar and Mar (Bongbong’s wife Lisa is a cousin of Mar from the Araneta side). And ZTE-NBN whistleblowers Joey de Venecia and Jun Lozada, but if they do plunge into the fray, there are as yet no clear indications under whose presidential ticket they would run. There is Among Ed Panlilio and Grace Padaca, both announced presidentiables, who might yet run for senator, likely with Mar Roxas. Also mentioned are Sonia Roco, the educator-widow of the late Sen. Raul Roco, and Rep. Liza Maza of Gabriela. (It looks like the parliamentary Left has decided to distribute their chances among the leading presidentiables).

And there is Brig. Gen. Danny Lim of Nueva Vizcaya, now jailed in Camp Crame in the company of Senator Sonny Trillanes, who astounded everyone by winning in 2007, sight unseen and voice hardly heard. Lim hopes to duplicate Trillanes’ feat, this time running under the banners of either Chiz or Mar, definitely not Villar’s.

The point is that if there are four to five presidential candidates, there will be anywhere from 48 to 60 senatorial candidates, and more if the other “also-runs” insist on fielding their complete or incomplete senatorial “fillers”. Pang-fill-in the blanks. And there aren’t that many who are either foolhardy enough to go for broke, or have money enough to buy costly advertising air time, or would run for the fun of it, not the “funds” of it, because little if any are forthcoming for “saling-cats”.

Which is probably why guys like Adel Tamano have made an early beeline to the doorsteps of the old Laurel mansion which Manny Villar bought from distinguished legacy through now-discovered debatably dubious means. Pera-pera lang iyan.

* * *

But wait! While Dona Gloria had jettisoned her earlier desire to ride in style via a 1.2 billion executive jet, in the face of the scandalous discovery of fancy and expensive pig-outs in the US of A, what’s this we hear about a multi-million peso new Pangarap club house in the golfing grounds of the PSG compound, a stinking river-crossing away from the stinking palace? The new “ Bahay Pangarap” was inaugurated just last February, perhaps in time for Valentine’s Day. It is ultra first-class, according to my Malacanang moles in the woodwork. The foyer looks like the lobby of a six-star hotel.

But what if the next president elected in 2010 neither plays golf nor needs a hide-away? Why is the Dona spending so much public money to give cushy perks for her successor, like a sleek new jet and a plush hide-away across the stinking Pasig?

Does she really want to let go?

Perish the thought at this point. The “fat” lady will not sing just yet, and she has the Venezuelans to take care of her chosen “assign”, or better yet, ensure there will be chaos come E-Day, which gives her reason to stay beyond June 30, 2010, to “fill” the leadership vacuum. Power, after all, abhors a vacuum.