Were there un-announced factors in Ping's withdrawal?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-06-09

The second ANC Leadership Forum that was held last June 5 at the UP School of Economics was highlighted by two big developments.

One was a headline grabber - Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson withdrew from the 2010 presidential race. The other was an attention getter — Makati Mayor Jojo Binay excelled in the forum and proved that he was a presidential candidate to seriously consider.

While many folks, including presidential wannabes, were surprised to hear that Senator Lacson decided to withdraw his candidacy in the 2010 presidential race last Friday, your Chair Wrecker viewed it as a logical consequence of events.

In announcing his withdrawal from the presidential race, Senator Lacson cited lack of funds as his reason. Indeed, lack of funds could well be one of the reasons why Senator Lacson quit the race. However, your Chair Wrecker believes that there were two more compelling reasons on top of money problems.

These two reasons are:

1. The political demolition that Lacson has been attempting to inflict on leading presidential candidate Senator Manny Villar hardly affected Villar’s poll ratings but eroded Lacson’s candidacy instead.

2. The arrival in the country of former Police Sr. Superintendent Cesar Mancao to corroborate an earlier affidavit linking Lacson to the Dacer-Corbito murders delivered the coup de grace to Lacson’s hopes to be elected president.

There is reason to believe that the two are very much related to Senator Lacson’s decision to quit the 2010 presidential race. Had Lacson’s star risen with the persecution of Villar (instead of plummet) would he still quit the race? Senator Lacson would have been emboldened to continue his candidacy if his star kept rising.

But because his star has dimmed after people perceived his attacks on Villar as political demolition, the prospects of added negative publicity emanating from the Dacer-Corbito case left no further room for doubt that Senator Lacson’s candidacy was doomed. Now faced with a fight to clear his name and retain his freedom, the most logical move for Senator Lacson would have been to channel all his resources, time and energy to winning his looming court battle.

Whether planned or by sheer coincidence, the return to the country of Dacer-Corbito case star witness Cesar Mancao as well as the projected return of the other key witness, Glenn Dumlao, provided the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime tremendous leverage against two big threats — former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Senator Lacson.

Faced with the all-too-real prospects that they will soon be out of power, the regime will want to eliminate the possibility that power will land on the hands of those with very big axes to grind against them. Now under the gun because of the Dacer-Corbito murders, both Estrada and Lacson are rendered prone to being controlled and directed by the GMA regime.

The soon to unfold Dacer-Corbito case events will reveal how GMA will opt to play this leverage and how Estrada and Lacson will react to regime attempts to control their behavior. Will Estrada and Lacson fight their great political enemy like epic warrior William Wallace of Scotland or will they agree to a compromise and allow GMA to use them for her personal political purposes?

On the positive side of last Friday’s ANC Leadership Forum, the country gained another good prospect for a new 2010 president. Aided with a dramatic increase in ratings, as showed by the May 4-17 Pulse Asia survey, Makati Mayor Jojo Binay was the standout performer in the forum and that caused many to now consider him as 2010 president.

Jojo Binay had a good story to sell. The benefits that Makati residents get under his able administration of the showcase city of the country would easily form the wish list of 90 percent of Filipinos. The big challenge of Jojo Binay as a presidential wannabe is to be able to prove to the rest of the country, outside Metro Manila, that he is a presidential candidate to seriously consider.

The second ANC Leadership Forum last Friday provided Jojo Binay the platform to do just that. Jojo Binay superbly communicated how his successful administration of Makati City can be translated on a national scale.

Jojo Binay not only sold the idea that he could make Filipinos eat steak, he made them smell the steak and hear it sizzle.

Senator Loren Legarda, as expected, spoke well and made a good impression. MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando had raised some good points but he could use more training on how to shine in these debates. Many times, he did not even use his allocated time which is a waste of precious television exposure and the opportunity to sell his candidacy.

While providing the comic relief, Joseph Estrada was actually a disaster. He only proved that Erap is a political has-been and deserved to be relegated to a past that we all want to forget.

Estrada could not even follow the rules of the forum and several times he exceeded his allocated speaking time. Unable to even use the excess time to prove a substantial point, Erap only succeeded in reminding people that he is one who acts as if he is above the law. It did not occur to him that the other presidential wannabes could have done the same but opted to follow the rules.

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