Saturday, January 19, 2013

2013 Mid-Term Elections in Philippines: Who gets the six remaining senatorial slots and why?

Analysing the senatorial configurations now, and many observers see only six remaining slots for newbies, or those wanting to become senators. Candidates are vying for 12 seats, but many seemed to have relegated the first six seats to incumbent senators, namely: Chiz Escudero, Greg Honasan, Loren Legarda, Koko Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillianes IV.

Three things why these re-electionists are shoo-ins: one, they have an enormous kitty to use in their re-election (2) they have a deep grassroots organisation and (3) they are in power and will definitely use this as leverage in political arrangements particularly at the LGU level.

Escudero, for example, has a wide network of supporters nationwide. His grassroots organisers are dedicated ones, and he has several arrangements with people's organisations and NGOs. Aside from monies coming from his business backers, Escudero has his own funds as Senator.

This is similar with Loren Legarda's case. Legarda has her vaulted LGU network to rely on. She, like Escudero, has many business backers, including Danding Cojuangco. She has a vast network of military men backing her up, most of them occupying sensitive positions in the military establishment.

It's a toss-up for the number one slot between Escudero and Legarda. However, many political observers see some groups campaigning against an Escudero rather than a Legarda.

It is common knowledge among political circles that Escudero is gunning for the 2016 presidency. If he gets elected overwhelmingly and gets the no. 1 spot, Escudero may well see himself being nominated for the presidency come 2016. A Legarda win, however, is safe for all parties, since many believe that Legarda has abandoned her presidential ambitions already. Legarda will likewise, benefit from a no. 1 ranking since the vice presidential post is still seen as vacant now.

Sources say, Escudero is toying with the idea of running either as President or Vice President come 2016. If he plays his cards right, Escudero may yet clinch what he hope for. Escudero is perceived as a safe bet in 2016, between a comebacking Marcosian force and an ageing political operator.

As the years go by, voters are becoming less and less informed about the "historical legacies" of a Marcos or a Binay. Binay's strength lies in his vaulted LGU support. If his political supporters lose their posts in 2013, Binay's chances will be extremely compromised.

Escudero's chances of winning 2016 is not as far-fetched as what some believe. He may yet be positioned as a winnable alternative between Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos and Vice President Jejomar Binay. Three years from now, the electoral landscape will be extremely different. There would be more younger voters, and getting their support will be crucial in a presidential contest. The political baggages linked with the brandnames of a Marcos and a Binay will bear heavy, and voters will surely gun for a perceived younger candidate.

This phenomenon has been observed in the election of Noynoy Aquino in 2010, when, ranged against political heavyweights such as Villar and Estrada, Aquino won riding on the crest of a change movement composed of very young voters.

Will we see another Escudero-Legarda tandem in 2016? The future is bright.

For another Marcos to clinch the presidency, Bongbong has to overcome three (3) challenges: first, titans in the business community who will still be in power come 2016, and still harboring ill feelings against the former Marcos dictatorship (2) government officials who previously fought the Marcos regime and, like several others, still carry an oppositive stance against the Marcoses and (3) a political bureaucracy uncertain of a Bongbong Marcos administration.

What Bongbong is going for him is the younger voters fascination about him, personally. Like Escudero, Bongbong's image and reputation among young and old voters is pretty impressive. In the last 2010 elections, we saw Bongbong Marcos' supporters almost everywhere, even in far-flung barangays.

If you ask me if Bongbong Marcos is ripe for the presidency, I will tell you straight that his chances, ranged against a Binay will be slim. He needs more time romancing the LGU heavyweights in every province and city. If Bongbong does his homework and participate actively this year in electing his supporters to critical voter-rich areas, we may yet see a Marcos in Malacanang come three years time.

However, ranged against an Escudero, Bongbong will probably provide a good fight, since voters perceive these two as fresh and young, and the only factor which will provide a political advantage would have to be LGU support, which, if this time is the reckoning, would probably be equal.

If Escudero gets top billing this year and continues to avoid being embroiled in any major controversy, it would be a shoo-in for him to the presidency, and even see administration backing come 2016.

And what about a Mar Roxas presidential campaign? If it's for the Vice-Presidency, Roxas is a sure winner.

Greg Honasan and Antonio Trillianes IV share the same constituency. They have the funds to fund their respective campaigns. However, their victories now depend on how organized their respective support groups are. They have the reformist groups on their side, but several information I got from sources reveal that their organisation is not as solid as it was several years ago.

The Magdalo organisation, for one, is fragmented at the grassroots, so Trillianes IV needs additional support from the Liberal Party to be able to win. What makes it difficult for Trillianes is, he has a Senate President as a political nemesis, someone so deeply entrenched not just in the LGU level but moreso, in the business community, that I am sure, Trillianes IV will find it extremely hard to shore funds from the business community.

The Trillianes IV brandname however, remains high in the Pulse Asia survey compared with other candidates. That was last June 2012, months prior to Trillianes IV highly public fiasco on China and his controversial tiff with Enrile. I fear that his ranking would be far lower in February than previous surveys. Trillianes will have a hard climb to victory this mid-term elections.

Honasan, meanwhile, has solidified his status in Philippine societal circles, but previous electoral contests show that Honasan's political brandname is not as formidable as it seems. He nearly lost two previous elections. He got his post