Major upsets, tremors and a climate of insanity
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-05-06
Going into the last week of the campaign, major upsets and tremors threaten to make the May 14 elections far more exciting than what we bargained for.

Two of the major upsets are happening in the City of Manila and the 4th congressional district of Pangasinan. Two major tremors emanated from the cities of Naga and Makati where local heavyweights, Mayors Jesse Robredo and Jojo Binay, have been disqualified and suspended, respectively.

Another major tremor has emanated from the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) where Opposition senatorial candidate Antonio Trillanes has accused AFP Chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon of ordering the chain of command to produce a 12-0 result in favor of the administration’s Team Unity (TU) in all AFP camps.

The order is reportedly causing great outrage among the officers and soldiers who feel that they are being issued illegal and immoral orders. Linked to the Garci Tapes scandal of the 2004 elections, Gen. Esperon had earlier deployed troops in Metro Manila areas that are known Opposition bailiwicks.

Lacuna is the man to beat in Manila

Many people are under the impression that the mayoralty fight in the City of Manila is a toss-up between Senator Fred Lim and Ali Atienza. However, incumbent vice mayor Danny Lacuna emerges as the man to beat.

I got to verify this from an earlier conversation with General Flor Fianza (Ret.) who does surveys for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and continues to have access to surveys of the administration. When we compared notes a few days ago, Flor confirmed that he got word that Lacuna was ahead in Manila.

Last Friday, I chanced upon the results of the survey that was conducted by the De La Salle Statistical Society, involving the Taft Avenue and Malabon faculty and students. Over a sumptuous seafood dinner, a copy of the La Salle survey was shared.

Conducted from April 28 to May 1, the survey had a sample of 1,680 respondents which is more than enough for just one city (considering that a base of 1,200 respondents is sufficient for a national survey). The results were as follows:

Danny Lacuna 40.0%
Fred Lim 28.8%
Ali Atienza 27.7%
Rodolfo Bacani 2.1%
Others 1.4%

Meanwhile, in the 4th District of Pangasinan, Dagupan City Mayor Benjie Lim is poised to unseat House Speaker Joe de Venecia (JDV). Sources in the province and the 4th District say that Dagupan City — a Benjie Lim bailiwick — comprises the biggest voting block of the contested seat. As it is turning out, JDV is more of a national figure while Lim is the bigger local presence.

My Pangalatok sources tell me that JDV became vulnerable to charges that he has failed to make a significant impact on the lives of his constituents. Lim on the other hand, projects a powerful local presence and now even enjoys the endorsement of Susan Roces, the widow of Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ). FPJ is a "Son of Pangasinan" and the endorsement of his widow certainly enhances the chances of Lim to upset JDV.

Disturbing tremors

Despite all the victory claims and braggadocio of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime, recent events underscore panic in the administration ranks.

In Naga City, Magsaysay Awardee Jesse Robredo has been disqualified by the Comelec over a citizenship issue that has been raised twice in the past and dismissed by the poll body itself. In Makati City, Ronnie Puno’s storm troopers tried to suspend Jojo Binay last Friday over the same charges that failed to stick last October. Both Robredo and Binay are headed for landslide victories and could only be upended by such non-election means as what they’re now served.

The development is quite disturbing in that it may be more than just an effort to win two major cities by hook or by crook. I fear that these moves are precisely being undertaken to provoke public disorder that will in turn justify the cancellation of the May 14 elections.

Any political watcher will know that the actions against Robredo and Binay are stupid political moves, coming at this point of the campaign. Robredo has two previous Comelec judgments favoring him and the way the Supreme Court has been settling issues lately — this one is headed for the same shameful reversal as the earlier Comelec refusal to divulge Party List nominees.

Reviving the Binay suspension order that failed last October is a measure with extremely low probability of success. It merely enhances Binay’s chances of expanding his lead over Lito Lapid.

So why make such stupid moves when these actions tend to produce the opposite results in the voting? The people behind these moves are not stupid people. On the contrary, they’re smarter than others. In fact, you may even consider them geniuses in the craft of subterfuge and the sleight of hand. What they may appear to be doing is not necessarily what they are out to accomplish.

The political actions against Robredo and Binay reek of desperate measures that result from desperate situations. To avoid impending defeat, the Arroyo regime may be attempting to provoke reactions from an enraged citizenry that will justify canceling the elections. Thus, the political objective goes beyond the cities of Naga and Makati and has everything to do with Madame Arroyo’s obsession to retain power at all costs.

What we may be seeing is the graduation of the Arroyo regime’s climate of impunity to a climate of insanity.
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