Is a battle royale in the offing?

By Perry Diaz

Aquino-endorse-RoxasFinally, Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay has an opposition in the race to Malacanang. With President Benigno “P-Noy” Aquino III’s “anointment” of Interior and Local Government Manuel “Mar” Roxas as the Liberal Party’s presidential candidate in next year’s elections, Roxas will give Binay a run for his money.

Although polls show that Roxas is far behind Binay and Sen. Grace Poe in the latest SWS and Pulse Asia surveys, it’s anybody’s guess who would eventually be elected to the presidency in May 2016. But Binay — who has been in “campaign” mode since he was elected vice president in 2010 — carries a lot of excess baggage that has made a lot of people wonder if they want another corrupt person to occupy Malacanang.

Binay-nooseHis failure to face the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee investigating allegations of massive corruption practices that also involved his wife and children, has cast a dark shadow of a doubt on his honesty and integrity. As someone once said, “Once corrupt, always corrupt,” Binay faces a strong challenge from Roxas who never had any charges of corruption against him in the years that he’s been in public service. Indeed, the stark contrast between them could lead people to choose between good and evil. And if that were the case, Binay’s presidential run would be doomed to perdition.

But it’s too early to speculate or predict who would eventually win. And there are still many known unknowns as well as the unknown unknowns that could change the direction of the campaign.

Knowing the unknown

Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero

Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero

One known unknown is Sen. Grace Poe. It is known that she has ambitions to run for higher office – president or vice president – but the unknown is that she has yet to decide which to pursue. Another known unknown is Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who made known that he’d like to run for vice president.

Poe had indicated several times in the past that if she were going to run for president, she would like Escudero to be her running mate. Escudero had indicated that he’d go along with that.

But on July 30, it was reported in the news that Poe and Escudero “are now open to a possible candidacy in 2016 without each other.” Poe said that their political plans are not dependent on each other, saying that Escudero may run in 2016 without her, and vice-versa. Escudero was in agreement, saying that the two of them are now going through different decision-making processes individually. Now, that is a game changer… in a big, big way! It was a sad denouement to a vibrant “political union” of two promising leaders.

Enter the heavyweights

Manny Villar and Danding Cojuangco

Manny Villar and Danding Cojuangco

In my opinion, there are a couple of reasons why they separated. First, just a week prior to their announcement of going separate ways, a news report said: “Billionaires Eduardo ‘Danding’ Cojuangco Jr. and Manuel ‘Manny’ Villar are forming a tactical alliance to support the run for President and Vice President of Senators Grace Poe and Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero in next year’s elections.”

If this tactical alliance materializes, this could be seen as a “Third Force” merging the resources and political capital of Villar’s Nacionalista Party (NP) and Cojuangco’s Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). The two parties have wide political network with a combined strength of seven senators, 67 representatives, 21 governors, and 22 city mayors.

But adopting two independents to be the standard bearers of two of the major political parties is easier said than done. Right after the NP and NPC’s announcement of supporting the Poe-Escudero tandem, Sen. Cynthia Villar – Manny’s wife – denied that the NP and the NPC were backing a Poe-Escudero tandem.

And just after Cynthia’s denial, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, an NP member, also denied that the NP is forming a tactical alliance with NPC. Trillanes, who had declared his plan to run for vice president next year, said that the tactical alliance in question was just Escudero’s “propaganda play.” He said that the NP might carry or adopt Poe but definitely not Escudero.

Two other Nacionalista senators, Bongbong Marcos and Alan Peter Cayetano, are rumored to be eyeing the vice presidential slot in the NP slate. Which means that if Poe decides to run for president under the NP banner, her running mate would either be Trillanes, Marcos or Cayetano. A week later Poe and Escudero announced their “separation.”

Enter the “anointed”

Escudero, Aquino, and Poe

Escudero, Aquino, and Poe

On July 20 Aquino met one-on-one with Poe for the last time for five hours. They met three times before and sometimes Escudero was included in their meetings. It became obvious that Aquino’s agenda was to convince Poe to be Roxas’ vice presidential running mate. But Aquino failed to convince her. Poe left the meeting thinking that it’s over.

Last July 31 at a gathering of Liberal Party (LP) members, allies, and supporters at the Club Filipino, Aquino announced his endorsement of Roxas as the LP’s standard bearer. But no sooner had Aquino announced his endorsement than word was out that Poe remains the LP members’ top choice as Roxas’ running mate. It was also reported in the news that Aquino and several LP stalwarts are keeping the door wide open for Poe to join the LP team as Roxas’ running mate.

Poe’s dilemma

Battle Royale: Mar Roxas, Jejomar Binay, and Grace Poe

Battle Royale: Mar Roxas, Jejomar Binay, and Grace Poe

Now, Poe has to decide whether to run for president under an NP-NPC “Third Force” or as Roxas’ vice presidential running mate. Many people believe that she should not run for president. If she ran for president, her lack of experience would be an impediment that Binay could use against her on the campaign trail. There is also the issue of her citizenship and residency that Binay’s supporters have been barking about.

On the other hand, if she decides to run for vice president, she’d only be 47 years old. And when she runs for president in 2022, she’d only be 53 years old. By that time she would have enough experience to make a run for the presidency… and win.

Let’s assume that Poe decides to run for president under an NP-NPC “Third Force.” If so, it could be a Poe-Trillanes, Poe-Marcos or Poe-Cayetano tandem. With billionaires Manny Villar, Danding Cojuangco, and a few other mega-donors bankrolling their campaign, Poe has an excellent chance of winning.

In a three-way battle royale among Binay, Roxas and Poe, in my opinion Roxas doesn’t stand a chance. He’d most likely finish last. The contest would really be between Binay and Poe. It’s going to be a very close fight. Binay has the money and he claims that he has the experience. But that’s debatable. You can’t compare the experience of a city mayor to that of the President of the Philippines. But his biggest problem would be the perception that he is corrupt. Some say that he would be more corrupt than Marcos, Estrada, and Arroyo rolled into one. That may be exaggerated but that is enough for people to doubt his integrity. He is also accused of being pro-China. With the strong anti-China sentiment in the Philippines because of the Spratly disputes, this could be a big problem for Binay, who has been referred to in the social media as a “Manchurian candidate.” Poe, on the other hand, has unquestioned integrity. Her performance as a senator, short as it may be, shows that she is mature for the job. Her “newness” would be a big plus for her because a lot of the people are sick and tired of the corruption that has been going on with the traditional politicians. Barring election cheating, Poe will win the election.

Is a three-way battle royale in the offing?


4 Responses. Have your say.

  1. Doc C says:

    I will not be soft on Binay. It is time for the media to educate the bakya crowd on who is a bad candidate for President. Binay with Pacman he chosed in his senatorial line up , those idiots 50% + of voters will vote for them. Binay is ready to cheat to win. Yes, the Philippine voters must learn its lessons from the ongoing plunder cases of J. Binay otherwise he will be the next President of the Philippines. Thus, all Filipinos abroad and concerned must constantly blog via the internet and post comments to educate Philippine voters why J. Binay must not be elected President.

    • Bobby Bagos says:

      African-Americans here in the US keeps blaming they’re failures in life on white people when they themselves are to blame for almost all of it. The same thing with our kababayans, they keep blaming corruptions and corrupt politicians for our country’s failures when they themselves created these sorry excuses for humanity. Binay keeps appealing to the ignorant public because he knows that these shits for brains will catapult him to the presidency by feeding them with his constant lies and bullshits. We really shouldn’t discuss these things anymore, our kababayans will sacrifice 6 years of our country’s future and for what, a handful of worthless goodies from the likes of Binay and others like him. Our country is screwed I tell you, every election it’s the same shit, the same lies and deception from the same people whose only purpose is to tear our kababayans a new assholes.

      • philip says:

        Bobby, the coming election is a test that Quezon really got his wish. With all the serious charges unanswered by him, if Binay is elected then the Filipinos are truly beyond salvation.

  2. philip says:

    I think this is a four-cornered fight, Perry. My “manok” is Omb. Morales who said of the Binays “ako’y buwisit na buwisit na. ah!” And his was before she was included in their libel complaint. She will KO Noggie into oblivion as soon as the SC decision on the first Jungoy suspension comes out. Like Sonny Trillanes (who should be Mar’s VP), I believe that Nog will be behind bars for plunder before the year is over. And Jr. will be dismissed by them. Karma has overtaken the Binays. They are the wiliest and most corrupt politicians of all time anywhere on earth. If you take a close look at Binay now, his face tells the story. He pretends it’s business as usual but he knows his happy days are numbered.

    His dummies (like Gerry, Ebeng and others) are the luckiest people, they can keep the loot to themselves.

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