Published on May 26, 2009
When it comes to everyone’s favorite pastime—no, not watching the latest Hayden Kho sex video but handicapping favorites in the equally rough-and-tumble world of presidential politics—everybody has an opinion. But this emphatically does not mean that one man’s guess is as good as any other’s. I say this not simply because I have a vested interest in professional commentary and political journalism; I say this because certain factors are already in play, and opinion that does not take them into account is worse than useless.
Political facts, of course, may be read differently. In the interest of greater accountability, I would like to advance the following five theses, with which I propose to frame my reading of 2010. Continue reading
Published on April 7, 2009
No, this is not an attempt to add to the literature of “warm spit”—the practice, begun by the Americans, of minimizing the importance of the second-highest office within the gift of the electorate. In the first place, John Nance Garner’s famous quip (the US vice presidency is not worth “a pitcher of warm spit,” he said) may have had some traction during his time as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s second wheel; it does not apply to the United States today. Al Gore reinvented the office, and the imperial Dick Cheney used it as base to assert an over-aggressive executive.
Secondly, the charge of political irrelevance does not apply with as much force to Philippine politics. Even the famously self-effacing Sergio Osmeña continued to dominate Visayan politics under Manuel Quezon’s shadow. And ultimate political power was also always within sight. Since the Commonwealth era, six of the country’s 12 vice presidents have succeeded to the presidency: Osmeña, Elpidio Quirino, Carlos Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Last month, I suggested that the Nationalist People’s Coalition could imagine a viable political future without Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo or her two political parties.
But now the NPC has Sen. Loren Legarda, who topped the Senate elections twice; the young Sen. Chiz Escudero, who came in second to Legarda in the 2007 polls and enjoys a rock-star appeal among younger voters; and (on the other side of the political fence) Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Cojuangco’s nephew. Teodoro does not enjoy any significant name recall to speak of, but he does have operational control of one of the few truly nationwide organizations: the military. (Cojuangco controls another one, the far-flung San Miguel Corp., which like the Armed Forces has one of the country’s largest transportation fleets.)
If the NPC is interested in shaping a post-Cojuangco future favorable to itself, it will contest the 2010 race. Given its advantages, the party would be foolish to entrust its future to yet another coalition with the Lakas-CMD and Kampi parties — when the upside to finally going it alone is clear.
Early this month, Rep. Mark Cojuangco, one of the NPC founder’s sons, told reporters the following:
Pangasinan Representative Mark Cojuangco, the son of NPC chair and business mogul Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, said on Monday the NPC was not interested in changing the form of government or in extending the terms of incumbent officials, as it had a winning presidential team in Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Loren Legarda for the 2010 elections.
“My party has very strong presidential candidates for 2010: Chiz-Loren, Loren-Chiz. So, why would we want to upset our chances? We believe we can win,” Cojuangco said in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
“Why would we want to upset our chances to have our party’s candidate sit as President? Why would we want to shoot ourselves in the foot?” he said.
That, I would think, takes us another step closer to May 2010.