Thursday, October 29, 2009

Danding Cojuangco's Balancing Act


Let me explore further one analysis which I gave in my earlier entry about Chiz Escudero's resignation---the strategy of Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) chairman emeritus Danding Cojuangco to just concentrate on funding his political grassroots base and allow the national slate open. Reason is simple---insulate Danding Cojuangco from " the messy national politics" and maintain his stature as this country's "top King-maker."

Danding has one thing haunting him now---the release of a court decision on his "ownership" of the coconut levy fund shares. This is NOT the right time for him to express his political preference. One, if Danding goes all out for the NPC presidential, vice presidential and senatorial bets, he will alienate his political ally, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Lakas-KAMPI administration party. This coco levy fund issue is like a Damocles' sword hanging above Danding's head.

To avoid possible prosecution, Danding has to maintain his "king-maker" status by "spreading the gravy", so to speak. He needs to open his party up for talks with Lakas, explore possibilities with Noynoy, keep Escudero and Legarda both at bay with promises of 200 million pesos each, keep talking with Villar's camp and that of Estrada's. Danding's situation is very delicate, like balancing oneself in a political tightrope. Or, another allusion, many knives poised at his neck.

Danding's best bet is really Chiz Escudero. First, Escudero's political stock remains as clean as a whistle. Second, Escudero owe NPC and Danding his career and third, Danding has taken cared of Escudero from the very start.

However, Escudero's critical stance against Arroyo, whether for show or not, has marked him for demolition by the administration. Many Lakas stalwarts hate Escudero for his anti-administration posturings, some even commenting that Escudero used them, and parodied Arroyo, just to gain political mileage. This validates what Mikey Arroyo once said that Escudero was the so-called "oppositionist" who continues to open his camp for talks while throwing rotten tomatoes against his mother.

With Lakas not really "gung-ho" on Escudero, Danding has no choice but to free Escudero from NPC so that the "merger" or the "marriage of convenience" between NPC and Lakas-Kampi pushes thru. This coalition is most critical for both parties since both camps are suffering from early desertions. Many Lakas members have shifted to the NP, after Mrs. Arroyo and Villar formalized their agreements. While some NPC members have either shifted to NP or the Liberal Party. The Osmenas are examples.

With Escudero out of the way, there is no stumbling block for this marriage of convenience anymore. The NPC can proceed with the merger with Lakas-Kampi (just formalizing it since Lakas-KAMPI and NPC are aligned under the so-called "rainbow coalition") and field a slate totally composed of Lakas-Kampi members.

An NPC-Lakas-Kampi merger is actually, just for show since Danding will concentrate more on strengthening his local political base. By giving his "blessing", Danding just gave the administration what they wanted and invariably, preserved his business interests and made it intact.

The question really is---is Chiz Escudero really freed from Danding Cojuangco's ambit? Some analysts say no, while others who believe in fantasies say yes.  Based on my talks with sources, Danding KNEW Chiz Escudero's decision to leave the party. DANDING EVEN GAVE CHIZ HIS BLESSING AND "GO-SIGNAL".

Chiz posturings are basically directed at enticing progressive groups comprising the Noynoy train, weakening the Liberal party base and while also eating up Erap's constituency. That leaves Manny Villar's machinery fully intact and functioning. 

Possibility of a Villar-Escudero teamup

There are talks that the Nacionalista is interested on Escudero. Congressman Zamora revealed that their camps started negotiations some months ago. What will be the result should Escudero goes to the Villar camp?

First, Escudero will lose his "personal mass base" composed of Samahang Magdalo, FPJPM and even Lacson's groups. He will probably enter into the devil's gambit alone. He'll surely lose since he does not have the political muscle to fight against Loren Legarda nor even against Mar Roxass. He will totally be discredited and ruin his promising political career.

Best for Escudero to form a truly independent political movement (not party) and like Lacson, go all out as an independent in 2010. Chances of winning are slim but best for him since this will just be consistent of what he told the public yesterday at Club Filipino.

Net---the young turk who postured himself as the Pinoy Obama needs serious self-searching sessions before he embarks on a new enterprise. Chiz Escudero, if I may describe him now, is a trapped and confused political creature. Best for him to drop his bid this early and avoid defeat or at the least, a loss of face.