Why is Erap peddling an illusion?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2008-11-04

The minions of convicted plunderer, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, were ecstatic over news of the latest SWS Survey on 2010 presidentiables. The survey showed Estrada now tied with the most preferred wannabe. Their elation follows a series of Estrada sorties and his earlier threat to run anew for president if the Opposition fails to unite.

To a veteran political watcher, Estrada’s campaign trail activities and threat underscore the man’s burning desire for a political resurrection. Even an intellectual lightweight like Estrada will easily figure out that there is no way the Opposition will unite behind a presidential candidate in 2010.

With all of 19 months to go before the May 2010 presidential election, we can see easily three or four Opposition wannabes who are determined to run come hell or high water. Do you see Senate President Manny Villar and Senators Mar Roxas and Panfilo Lacson giving way? Then there is Senator Loren Legarda who is spending a lot of money this early to project her image on expensive television primetime.

Few will give DILG Secretary Herr Ronnie Puno a ghost of a chance to win in the 2010 presidential election — not with the burden of the reputation he carries. Democracy loving Filipinos are not inclined to electing a president who appears to adopt the methods of Nazi Germany’s former Interior Minister, Herr Heinrich Himmler.

Should Herr Puno decide to run for president, all his opponent has to do is run a television commercial nationwide to remind voters of the assaults on the Iloilo Capitol and the Peninsula Hotel which are all linked to the current DILG Secretary. Herr Ronnie’s opponents can also highlight his role in the 1992 Sulo Hotel Operation which Senator Miriam D. Santiago believes robbed her of the presidency in favor of Fidel V. Ramos (FVR).

Personally, this Chair Wrecker thinks Herr Ronnie and his Sulo Hotel Operation were grossly overrated. An FVR 1992 campaign insider told me that the Sulo Hotel Operation was not meant to cheat for FVR but to ensure that FVR was not cheated. The last SWS survey before the 1992 presidential election showed a very close race which could have easily been altered by a Garci type operation.

The Sulo Hotel Operation was exposed by the late STAR writer Teddy Benigno in a series of columns after Teddy got incensed when former NSA Joe Almonte (who recruited Herr Ronnie to undertake the Sulo Hotel Operation) began claiming that FVR’s victory was largely owed to him and his protégé. Herr Puno sued Teddy Benigno for libel over the series of columns on the Sulo Hotel Operation — a case that did not prosper.

Teddy’s issue was actually with Almonte over what he felt was Almonte’s temerity to try to upstage Cory Aqunio’s role in the making of the FVR presidency. The truth is this: There would have been no FVR lead to protect if Cory Aquino did not break with the LDP and launched FVR’s candidacy with the president’s machinery to propel it.

But despite his image handicap, Herr Ronnie can win the 2010 vote if indeed the Opposition fields three or more presidential candidates. Ronnie will be banking on that loyal administration support base of 20 to 25 percent. If you check the surveys that show Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s (GMA) worst ratings, you’ll note that there is a 20 to 25 percent support base that still manages to keep a favorable opinion of her.

By projecting himself as a 2010 presidentiable, Joseph Estrada further muddles the Opposition field and he merely adds to the chances of the Arroyo regime to elect a hand-picked successor. Instead of becoming a unifier of the splintering Opposition, Estrada is adding another factor for further division.

The big question is this: Why is Estrada is doing this?

Does he not realize that being a convicted plunderer, even if he was pardoned, he cannot expect the same people who elected him president in 1998 to vote for him again? Has he forgotten that his presidency did not provide the masses economic salvation but in fact made life more miserable for them?

Does he not know that the Constitution specifically mandates a single term for president? Has it not occurred to him that all those Supreme Court Justices who voted for Romy Neri’s executive privilege will not allow him to run and become GMA’s greatest nightmare?

Has he forgotten that the military actively participated in his ouster and that they will likely reject him anew especially now that we are in deep crisis? Does he think that the idealists in the military regard him as the rallying point of their idealism?

What makes him think that the Catholic Church, a partner in EDSA UNO and EDSA DOS, will tolerate him? Didn’t 5 of the Catholic Bishops, led by no less than the CBCP President, express recently the strongest Church statement yet against corruption and called for a change in administration?

What makes Estrada think that he is not considered by the Catholic Church as very much a part of that corruption that they have denounced? They actively supported his ouster for that very reason and so what makes him think that they will embrace him now?

If Estrada wants to redeem his name in history, then he should concentrate his efforts on enlightening the masses about what perpetuates their systemic exploitation and focusing their attention on the present Malacañang Palace resident who made life more miserable for them.

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