Can the administration win in 2010 sans Veep Noli de Castro?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-07-23

The administration of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) cannot be cited for lacking in qualified presidential candidates in the forthcoming 2010 presidential elections. There are easily three announced presidential candidates that the GMA regime can nominate who tower over many of the Opposition presidential wannabes.

From your Chair Wrecker’s point of view, possible administration presidential nominees Senator Richard “Dick” Gordon, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro and MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) Chairman Bayani Fernando would make better presidents than Opposition presidential candidates Senator Loren Legarda, Senator Chiz Escudero, and former president Joseph Estrada. The executive track records of Gordon, Teodoro and Fernando formed a major basis for that assessment.

While Estrada can lay claim to having an executive track record, his disappointing presidential term is the biggest disincentive for voting for him again — and that is assuming he is qualified to run at all.

Though assessed as better qualified to become presidents, Gordon, Teodoro and Fernando cannot even rate more than 2% in both the reliable SWS and Pulse Asia surveys. On the other hand, Legarda, Escudero and Estrada have consistently chalked ratings of over 10%.

It is a sad fact of life that because of the Information and Education Gaps, majority of Filipinos are unable to discern who are the best candidates and end up electing some of the worst public officials in Asia.

Realistically, the administration has only one viable presidential candidate among those who are presently being floated. That is Vice President Noli de Castro. The Veep has been either number 1 or number 2 in the SWS and Pulse Asia surveys.

That is why the members of the newly minted so-called super party, the merged Lakas-CMD and Kampi, are worried and they keep egging de Castro to make a firm commitment already to run under their party banner. As to be expected of politicians, some of them even “threaten” de Castro with being left out of the nomination as presidential standard bearer when in fact they have really no winnable candidate if de Castro decides not to run with them (or decides not to run at all).

The ground reality is this — the Lakas-CMD and Kampi Party will have the most powerful political machinery in 2010 but will be stuck with the weakest presidential candidate if Noli de Castro decides not to run with them or not to run at all. It is inconceivable that superior party machinery can engineer the election of a presidential candidate who cannot even figure among the top three in a projected field of at least five presidential candidates.

Do you see Gordon, Teodoro and Fernando rating better than de Castro (if he decides to run under a different banner), Villar, Escudero and Roxas? If they cannot be anywhere near the four, how can they win?

If de Castro runs under a different standard — on the given that running with the GMA administration is too heavy a baggage to carry — he will not be short of resources. With the ratings that he enjoys, there will be a lot of supporters to provide the wherewithal.

Manny Villar and Mar Roxas are known to have the wherewithal. Their ad spending attests to that. With Danding Cojuangco’s party behind him, who can doubt the war chest of Chiz Escudero?

So, it’s not as if the opponents of the administration are totally incapable of mustering the political machinery required to be able to win and ensure that their votes are properly counted. In the 1998 presidential elections, Joe de Venecia and his then super party were overwhelmed by Joseph Estrada’s popularity and adequately provided party.

The 1998 presidential elections is a good basis of comparison. Compared to Joe de Venecia in 1998, GMA is suffering from a far worse negative public perception. In 1998, Joe de Venecia was nowhere near the negative satisfaction and negative approval ratings of GMA and there is no way that the GMA administration’s presidential candidate will not be weighed down by this.

Most Filipinos felt that they were cheated in the 2004 presidential elections. Most Filipinos were frustrated by GMA Congress allies in seeking redress via the impeachment process.

Expect these folks to look to the 2010 elections for their chance to register their sentiments by trashing GMA’s presidential candidate.

Noli de Castro knows this. Close friends of the Veep say that he is worried how it will negatively affect his chances of victory once he runs as GMA’s proxy. Thus, de Castro is said to feel that his chances of winning are enhanced if he runs instead under a different banner.

However, we really cannot preclude that a GMA presidential candidate other than de Castro can win in 2010. Oh yes, an administration presidential candidate other than Noli de Castro can win if we are to have another massive cheating operation in 2010. It can be easily done if the feared internal hacking of the poll automation happens.

However, even an internally hacked computerized election cannot suddenly make a winner of somebody whose survey ratings could not even land in the top three of a field of five candidates. It simply will not be credible and will cause a political tempest.

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