Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Villar's pamamanhikan kay Loren--will this change Manny's chances?

Michael Lim Ubac, Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter quoted Senator Loren Legarda on the so-called "dramatic pamamanhikan" MannyVillar and his wife did with the lady vice presidential aspirant last Sunday. Loren was quoted thus:

“He told me, ‘I believe in your platform on environment, agriculture and climate change,’ and I said, ‘I believe in your platform on helping migrant workers and pushing for their rights.’ In that respect, we clicked right away,” Legarda told this reporter
Do you believe this crap? I don't.

If you look at it, that Sunday event was grotesque to say the least. It was a melodramatic rendition of a torn 45 vinyl record. Imagine a Manny Villar grinning ear-to-ear when his wife gave him away to Loren. This only happens in Muslim marriages, when the first wife agrees to give her husband away for the second.

It was a marriage of convenience between two traditional politicians---that's it. Were there any talks about protecting the environment, or the OFWs as what Loren said? Bull. Between two trapos, the environment and OFWs are least among the issues they probably discussed.

Loren agreed on Villar's proposition because she needs money to defeat Mar Roxas. Roxas continues to lead by 37% percentage points,  a mile away from Loren's ratings. Without logistics and a network, Loren is a sure loser.

Obviously, among political parties the Nacionalista Party is, by far, the most organized and with the widest of grassroots networks. Loren will not go to Lakas-KAMPI CMD, the party is suffering from organizational disarray. The Liberal will not accept her, neither is the United Opposition (UNO) for reasons the NPC also knows.

In this "grotesque marriage" between a billionaire and a political courtesan, the groom seems on the losing side and the so-called bride got all the goods. Villar has logistics, Loren does not. Villar has the organization, Loren, zero. But Loren has her charms work for her. But, will that charm benefit her political "husband"?

Will a Loren Legarda improve the chances of a Manny Villar in the presidential race? Pulse Asia's October survey sees Villar's rating slipping further south, an indication that last August and September's ratings had already reached a plateau. Villar peaked so early that he now faces a tough climb against formidable and more popular political opponents such as Noynoy Aquino and Joseph Estrada.

Loren's constituency is the same as that of Villar's. To get the presidency, Villar needs to get as many provinces and regional voting blocks as possible. Example---Batangas is a sure give-away to Noynoy after Vilma Santos transferred from Lakas to Liberal. Batangas is one province with the biggest voting block, not just in terms of numbers but moreso as an ethno-linguistic block.

Cavite remains a white country considering that Lacson's influence over the province is more pervasive than the Remulla's.The Remullas are aligned with the Nacionalista. The province's foremost party, the Partido Magdalo is a card-carrying member of Villar's party.

Laguna is obviously another "white country" and in the 2010 elections, support will split between Estrada and possibly Villar's. It is too early to say if Noynoy Aquino's Liberal Party can actually snatch this province away from the two, but now, it's possibly going for Villar more than Erap.

The solid North is also fragmented, with the Marcoses supporting Estrada, a big factor in getting this vote-rich region. While Ilocos Sur remains "liberal", Cong. Eric Singson is not running; his son Owen is. So, it remains to be seen whether Ilocos Sur will break away from tradition and vote in block behind Noynoy instead of Villar.

Pangasinan is also a vote-rich province. The De Venecias, it seems, are rooting for Villar. Yet, their influence in the province is not that formidable compared in previous years. Governor Espino remains a force to reckon with despite rumours of an Agbayani comeback. Having said that, Pangasinan is definitely white country with no major political party claiming the entire province their own.

Bulacan has over 2 million voters. Former governor Josie dela Cruz is reclaiming the governorship, with the "blessing" of incumbent governor Mendoza. Dela Cruz remains a very strong and influential force in the province but traditionally, Bulakenos do not vote as a block. Whoever Dela Cruz aligns herself with will, in the end, get the most votes. Dela Cruz, by the way, is an administration ally. 

Cebu, another vote rich province with 5 million voters, is probably going for Teodoro, but the Liberal Party and UNO have their thing going there. The Nacionalista also has their traditional networks still working for Villar.The Osmenas are working tirelessly for Noynoy while the Garcias are either for Estrada or Teodoro's. Winston Garcia, the son of kingmaker Pablo Garcia, is running for Congress and surely, he will campaign for Teodoro. Places he can reach and those which the Garcias have moral and persuasive influence will go for Teodoro. Gwen Garcia, a Lakas-KAMPI ally, is torn between supporting Erap or Teodoro. The Garcia political clan will have to split their allegiances between Estrada and Teodoro. 

To win therefore, Villar has to get as many minority vote rich areas to undermine the strength of his opponents in major vote-rich areas. Villar hopes that Legarda would do that for him, getting him support from major areas already dominated by his opponents. If you look at Legarda's numbers, however, you'll find that she does not have the moral nor the political influence heavier than the others. Legarda will surely not improve Villar's chances in a substantive way.

Now, if you say that Mindanao will go for a presidentiable whom Legarda supports, you are mistaken. Mindanao goes for the logistical jugular---the one with the money, wins. Villar can get Mindanao without Loren. However, Villar has to go to the Pangandamans, the Mangundadatus and other political "heavyweights" before he can rightfully claim victory. For that, he also needs the blessing of the military. 

Net---Loren is just a prop, a beautiful one indeed. Her team-up with Villar will not change the way the people think about the Nacionalista nor will she deliver the votes needed by Villar to win. In all likelihood, Legarda got the best out of this deal. And Villar will lose his billions.