Friday, October 30, 2009

The Chiz Escudero Gambit

A friend and colleague in this political analysis ek-ek, Pedestrian Observer has a pretty good analysis about Chiz Escudero. Read it, as well as Leslie Bocobo's piece.

Yep. Chiz is neither a haciendero nor a bilyonaryo, but he's surely a beneficiary of the Marcos regime. His father, Salvador, was a staunch pro-Marcos. And by Chiz association with Danding, yep, he probably benefited from the coconut levy fund which Danding is still using to prop his hold over as SMC.

It does not necessarily conclude that Chiz would be all-out Marcosian. I mean, the sins of the Father should not be blamed on the son. If Salvador Escudero erred on the side of dogged allegiance to a false prophet, he was simply, and probably did it out of fear or trepidation. And we don't expect the son to follow suit right?

Chiz's gambit, as what Senator Aquilino Pimentel described his "bold move" was, for me, a test of how far and how strong the progressives are in pursuing their cause. Chiz just lost a sizeable base of support coming from the traditionals, but the prospect of carving something out of the progressives or the middle class is higher than when he was with the NPC.

The question really is---are the progressives, or some term, reformist groups really ready to flex its muscles come May 2010? People are hoping that Chiz replicates the "miracle win" of Trillianes. Trillianes was losing in the survey game months prior to the 2004 elections when his stock suddenly climbed to the magic 12.

Political analysts were caught with their feet in their mouths. Many predicted defeat; but the contrary happened. Trillianes won, as some believe, without machinery.

That observation is surely not correct. Trillianes had his electoral machine which came from reformist groups within traditional political parties. Trapos also assisted Trillianes to win and some say, his victory also got the go-ahead from inside the palace. But, that's another story.

Now, let me go back to this gambit which Chiz took.

If Chiz pushes through, he needs the backing of the reformists and the progressives. Let me just clump them in one political creature---the middle forces. Right now, majority of the middle forces are aligned with Noynoy Aquino under the mistaken notion that Ninoy's son deserves to lead them. These middle forces constitute the bulk of Noynoy's mass base support. They are educated, idealists and really want changes in Philippine society.

Based on a very confidential poll survey research which I have, they comprise 78% of the total electorate. They are a cross-section of the economic classes. They are well informed and politically aware. They classify politicians in simple trapo and non-trapo terms. Obviously, they disdain trapos and want non-trapos to ascend to power.

What is going on right now (and which the Liberals surely know) is that even they cannot seem to get the full backing of the middle forces. Yes, majority are behind them but there is a sizeable chunk, which I call the "ideologically astute" and "political organizers" who command respect in the urban poor and middle class constituencies that reserve their support. These organizers are spread among different political parties, ready to be tapped when an ideal non-trapo enters the political fray.

This is what Chiz and his handlers want to tap. Doing so means weakening Noynoy's base, damaging the grassroots base of Erap's and slowing down organizing efforts of the Manny Villar camp. When this happens, the possibility of garnering at least 23-25% of the electorate votes is high. A candidate who gets 25% of the votes come May 2010 is a sure winner, particularly in a four or five corner fight.

Chiz has just positioned himself as a non-trapo candidate and poised to assume leadership of this category. All he needs to do is convince those belonging to Noynoy's camp, those ideologically astute and political organizers to shift and form an independent movement.

This is possible since Chiz now has the FPJM, the Samahang Magdalo, Ping Lacson's group and his own ChizNation organizations. If he gets the support of the Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), Sanlakas, BayanMuna (now aligned with Villar's), unions, people's organizations such as the PRRM, Code NGO and the People's Primaries, he stands on firmer ground. Now, should Eddie Villanueva's group align with him and Grace Padaca's group suddenly bolts out of the Liberal Party, then Chiz has his independent third force movement.

Likewise, what is the possibility of Senator Jamby Madrigal throwing her billions out for Chiz? High, if you ask me.

Now, what is the possibility of forming a broad coalition of progressives and reformist groups under one candidacy? Grace Padaca would surely stick with Mar. JIL is one open window. BayanMuna has their own political aggrupation, but probably open to talks, same goes to PLM-Sanlakas. Code NGO has been fractured already but many of them are aligned with the Liberals.

What would happen really is that Chiz will split this group in half, further diluting the chances of progressives ascending the top of the power structure post-May 2010. Chiz is doing what Ping Lacson did in 2004---splitting the progressives by positioning as the best alternative candidate. Chiz is like a monkey wrench thrown in the political pond to confuse and befuddle the political forces.

And the target seems to be Noynoy Aquino. Wittingly or unwittingly, Chiz just played sweetly in the hands of the administration.