Friday, August 21, 2009

The umpteenth

It’s been the umpteenth time we heard Gloria Macapagal Arroyo bark orders to “her” soldiers to crush the Abu Sayyaf. Remember how many?

They’re still there, and they still kill, the latest being an ambush in Basilan, in coordination with their brothers MILF, of 23 of the Republic’s fighting men.

It’s been the umpteenth time that we have sued for peace, renewing “stalled” peace talks with the MILF. Talks see-saw between formal and informal, between open and back-channelling. And always, we look up to the Malaysians to help untangle the web we could ourselves untangle, if we only had the requisite political will.

It’s been the umpteenth time we heard Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declare war on poverty. But the poor are increasing, with the middle class shrinking, and the poorest of the poor legion, in the countryside as well as the urban centers. Last week, in the wake of her scandalously expensive pig-outs at Bobby Van’s, thence Le Cirque, David Bouley’s and Wolfgang’s, and perhaps more, she unveiled another anti-hunger effort, dole-outs of government monies from “her” table of plenty. The gall.

It’s been the umpteenth time, and oh so countless, that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has declared a war against corruption, but he, he, he … not even her numerous spokesmen believe her. Ermita continues to feather his nest, either for retirement or political hegemony over poor Batangas; Remonde has his fingers in the waterfronts of Cebu, in preparation for a congressional run. Golez is running in Bacolod, and supra-intelligent and hyper-articulate Lorelie, if she can’t wangle the agriculture portfolio once Art Yap resigns to run for congress, will try her luck once more in Nueva Ecija politics. Wonder what Gary Olivar hopes to get in return from his Dona.

As for the presidential wannabe’s, the list gets longer and longer, never mind if SWS and Pulse Asia and Synnovate and PSRC and even Ibon, have long eliminated the also-rans, and are reporting a tight contest among four or five hopefuls.

Now wait till you discover the “umpteenth” candidate.

For now, let me mention the original 10, whose bona-fides we delineated in several articles early this year. From the Liberal Party --- Mar Roxas; from the NPC --- Chiz Escudero and Loren Legarda; from the Nacionalista Party --- its owner, Manny Villar; from Lakas --- Bayani Fernando; from Lakas-Kampi, whose marriage can best be described as on the rocks even before consummation (coitus interuptus, our teachers taught us) --- Gilbert Teodoro; from UNO/PDP-Laban --- Jojo Binay; from PMP, provided the Supreme Court and Comelec can close their eyes on patent constitutional infirmity, and be terrorized by the “hordes” of his masa following, there’s former President Joseph Estrada. Then there are independents Vice-President Noli de Castro, Dick Gordon and Ping Lacson. Lacson has since withdrawn from the race, and will likely run as someone’s vice-president. Dick’s Bagumbayan, where Hayden Kho was an early fixture we are told, has since become limp, not necessarily because Hayden’s acrobatics has waned. As for Noli, he is still contemplating, somewhere in a spacious Dasmarinas lawn, whether he has what it takes to be president of the land. That was eleven, until Ping made it ten.

And then there came more: JC de los Reyes of Kapatiran, a nephew of Dick Gordon and councilor of his Olongapo; Among Ed Panlilio, because he has grown weary fighting the mayors of his Pampanga; Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela; Nick Perlas (who he, a lot of people still ask. I know him, but hey Nicky, dream on…); Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas; and Bro. Mike Velarde, who celebrated his birthday yesterday among his El Shaddai flock. That’s 16 in all, folks!

And then Senadora Jamby Madrigal had everyone’s jaw dropping when she herself announced, ( was it in company of her pet greyhound?) that she too would run for the presidency, no less. Seventeen.

Based on the latest surveys, the contest has narrowed down to a few: Erap, Villar, Chiz, Noli, and Mar. Loren seems to be on free fall. Jojo has moved upwards, with those beautifully-crafted television ads, but it seems he really hopes to be Erap’s VP. Bayani and Gilbert and Dick languish at one percent, give or take another percent. Among Ed and Grace and JC de los Reyes and Nicky are also in the one percentum cellar. Bro. Eddie and Bro. Mike, along with Jamby, have yet to be seriously tested by the survey firms.

Now that Lakas will disengage from the PaLaKa, because FVR and Joe de V are not ready to go to bed, Bayani ought to be happy, being an original Lakas. And Gilbert, having taken his oath as the newest member of PaLaKa, will suddenly be running under a non-existent party, because Comelec has no material time to accredit it as the dominant majority party, as Gibo had hoped, with FVR and JDV going all the way to the Supreme Court to keep their ownership of the party they founded in 1991.

Now for the umpteenth candidate. Hold your breath, folks…

It’s Hermogenes Ebdane of Zambales, former PNP Director-General, now DPWH Secretary, and FVR loyalist to the core. I am serious!

Soon, we are told, he will announce his candidacy on the basis of his “credentials” as Dona Gloria’s infrastructure czar. Is he the “engineer” FVR touts as most worthy to be the next president? And will FVR dash Bayani’s fondest dreams?

Question --- who will be the Venezuelan candidate?

Ronnie Puno is quietly smiling. Is he the Venezuelan candidate for VP?