A month ago, the UNA (United Nationalist Alliance) looked like they’ll be dominating the 2013 senatorial elections. Recent developments, a good part of it the making of UNA itself, would now indicate that the administration’s coalition will win more seats.
With the recent inclusion of the Nacionalista Party (NP) and Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) candidates, the injection of a bright son of the country’s strongest political brand — Bam Aquino — and the decision of former senator Ramon “Jun” Magsaysay to run anew, the President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) administration senate lineup looks awesome.
Currently listed as probable administration senate candidates are NPC’s Senator Loren Legarda and Chiz Escudero, the NP’s Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Cynthia Villar, Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara, reelectionist senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Koko Pimentel, former senator Jun Magsaysay, youth leader Bam Aquino, Liberal Party (LP) Quezon Rep. Erin Tanada III, former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros, Customs Chief Ruffy Biazon, Customs Deputy Chief Danny Lim, MTRCB (Movie and Television Review and Classification Board) head Grace L. Poe, and TESDA’s (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) Joel Villanueva.
Of this short list of 14 senate candidates, your Chair Wrecker sees 8 with very good chances to land among the 12 to be elected in May 2013. These are: Legarda, Escudero, Cayetano, Magsaysay, Aquino, Villar, Pimentel and Trillanes. Because of their names and their high visibility during the CJ Renato Corona impeachment trial, Angara and Tanada will have good chances to land in the 9th to the 12th slot. Both have well known political names that are highly regarded.
Bam Aquino has to be given a lot of weight because of the following factors:
1. His qualification is solid. A management engineering summa cum laude of the Ateneo University, Bam has been active in micro financing activities and was a popular youth leader.
2. His father is Paul Aquino, the campaign manager for the 1986 Snap Presidential Election Campaign and the 1987 LABAN senatorial campaign where the Cory Aquino administration won 22 out of the 24 seats. Expect Paul to be more inspired with his son now running for the senate.
3. Bam speaks well and is media savvy. He is a good representation of the Aquino legacy. That legacy is now the strongest political brand in the country.
The administration candidates will gain tremendous boost from the positive impression that its lineup projects — composed of many new and young qualified candidates that augurs well for a Philippines long craving for meaningful reform. One outstanding plus factor is that most of the 14 shortlisted administration candidates have fought the unlamented Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime. Their main opponent — the UNA of Vice President Jojo Binay and former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada — is weighed down by the inclusion of GMA allies Mitos Magsaysay and Migz Zubiri.
The UNA may have been tempted to recruit traditional politicians, local kingpins who can deliver the votes of their home base, in order to offset the administration’s advantage in machinery. Even without abusing or misusing its powers, an administration will enjoy the logistical advantage in a national election. This reliance on local kingpins has long been proved as irrelevant in national elections. There is a local vote and there is a national vote.
Some are misguided into thinking that the 2013 national election will be a test between the popularity of the president versus that of the vice president. That’s not true. VP Jojo Binay’s ranking as the most trusted public official doesn’t necessarily mean that the people prefer him to the president. As of today, P-Noy is still a very popular president and loved by most Filipinos. There are issues that cause disaffection but these are not enough to undermine P-Noy’s political base.
It is illusory to imagine the 2013 senatorial election to be a P-Noy versus VP Jojo Binay proxy battle. VP Jojo will be the very first to scuttle such thoughts. The 2013 senatorial race will be a battle between lineups that appeal more to voters on the basis of their individual merits, name recall and the association to popular causes. The UNA candidates may enjoy name recall — although even that is in doubt now — over the administration coalition but the administration coalition towers over UNA in terms of individual merits and association with DAANG MATUWID (straight path).
The Koko Pimentel departure from UNA resulting from his taking a principled stand may have seriously damaged the UNA image, possibly sinking it to the ignominious reputation of garbage collectors. The old political names running in the UNA lineup (Garcia, Magsaysay, Zubiri, de Venecia, Maceda, Tatad, among them) accentuates the administration’s edge in having fresh faces with presumed reform mindsets. So far only announced UNA senatorial candidates Jack Enrile, JV Ejercito and Senator Gringo Honasan seem competitive to the administration bets.
In 2013, the P-Noy administration will be better appreciated and could even recover its highest poll ratings. The weakness of UNA is that they have been exposed as horse traders — that they’ll buy any horse, whether black, red or white, so long as it can get them where they want to go. Filipinos have had enough of that. The voting patterns in national elections clearly showed Filipino disdain for political horse traders.
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Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”