Monday, June 1, 2009

Erap's Magic and De Castro's Charm Offensive

Defense secretary Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro got a big boost today from US Secretary of State Robert Gates. Teodoro had the pleasure (and honor, of course) of welcoming Gates, since Mrs. Arroyo is on official travel to Korea and Russia.

In a virtual "endorsement", Gates said that the US expects the elections to proceed as planned in May 2010 and that they expect no extraconstitutional exercise to subvert it. That's cryptic. Probably Gates must have heard something of a plan by Mrs. Arroyo's lapdogs to launch a God Save the Queen and the US wants to be assured that no such foolish plan exists. Otherwise, Gates was very clear---the US will repulse any plan by any elitist faction to perpetuate a coup or extend Mrs. Arroyo's term through a self-coup.

Yet, this "virtual endorsement" coming from the highest Cabinet member of Obama's administration comes as no surprise, since, everybody knows how good the US thinks about Teodoro.

Gate's statement of praise for Teodoro would now shatter the "myth" being propagated by Bayani Fernando's handlers that he enjoys virtual support from the US, particularly his plan for the presidency. Like all Fernando's dreams, this one tops it.

Teodoro, some quarters say, will go down as a Senatorial candidate, in deference to Kabayan Noli de Castro. De Castro has been figuring quite brilliantly in surveys, the latest one, Pulse Asia, pitting him in a statistical "dead heat" with Nationalist People's Coalition (NCP) presidential wannabe Chiz Escudero (with 17%).

What is so significant about this Pulse Asia survey is the third place position of former president Joseph Estrada. Estrada has not announced his plan yet, but, even just an indication that he's running has been met with positive results.

I'll be writing extensively about the chances of this presidentiables in one paper but one thing is certain---Estrada is still a force to reckon with. His provincial sorties have been working wonders and the re-invigoration of the JEEP NI ERAP nationwide is contributing to this.

The question really is will Estrada regain the charismatic influence he had before. Surely, there is some semblance right now, but, compared in 1998, Erap's magic is somewhat pitifully low, considering that he has been touring the country almost unabated since his release from prison.

Now, the administration has been courting Vice President de Castro and some say, he's a virtual shoo-in for the presidency, of course, in tandem with lone vice presidential bet, Interior secretary Ronnie Puno. A De Castro-Puno tandem is formidable. However, their formidability could weaken with a split from either the Teodoro or Gordon ranks, in which case, that would surely lead to an opposition victory.

But, now, wait a minute. If you analyze the situation very closely, you'll lead to a conclusion that a third force could snatch everything away from De Castro and the Estrada camps. This is the most opportune time for a third force to win. Let me elucidate in the next entry.