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Who wants to be President?

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THE SCREENING or weeding out has begun for the 2022 presidential derby.

Four out of six nominees as potential presidential candidates of 1Sambayan in 2022 have already opted out.  Two of  them are former presidential bets themselves.  Sen. Grace Poe is not interested in running for a higher office. She did well but not enough in the last presidential race. Her candidacy will writ large in history as one that declined to throw its support to Mar Roxas’ candidacy that would have changed the outcome of 2016 run. No two dogs will agree to break a bone. Both she and Mar lost in the process.

Deputy Speaker Eddie Villanueva has a personal reason, according to his son, Senator Joel. He’s still grieving over the loss of her daughter, former mayor of Bocaue. The other, unspoken reason could possibly be that he hasn’t heard a word from above that he should throw his hat into the presidential race, again and this time. It is said that, while his political career has gained a boost in the Duterte Administration, his ministry has been affected by his earlier claim of an out-of-this-world message.

Bro. Eddie, as he’s fondly called, has become a movable template for many religious leaders who have chosen to jump into politics using as motivation allegedly some powerful voice egging them to do it. The voice wasn’t really that audible, they said, but they were convinced it was from above. Most of them, of course, didn’t win. But neither did they lose, they claimed.  

Congresswoman Vilma Santos Recto, or Ate Vi,  has also begged off. She must have considered the political cost, both financial and others, for her and her hubby Raffy, to be on the other side of the fence facing Duterte or his candidate in a contact sport.  There’s just too many possible issues that could leave her  black and blue. Prudence is the better of valor. Ate Guy,who’s still licking her wound over not being given the National Artist plum by Noynoy Aquino,  would have approved.

Lawyer Chel Diokno’s excuse for withdrawing is a more practical problem. It’s not his buck tooth or his jutting jaw. He doesn’t have sufficient  political base to grow into a viable platform for a presidential run.  His performance in the last Senatorial rqce wasn’t convincing, if not dismal.

In any case, all of them have promised to support whoever will be the choice of 1Sambayan. They call it word of honor, and of all places, it’s supposed to govern politics . In the no-man’ land called politics, vice pays tribute to virtue. There are two nominees left, although the nomination hasn’t be closed yet. Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Antonio Trillanes. Robredo hasn’t made up her mind yet between a presidency or a local political position. Trillanes, who hasn’t denied he has a moist for the presidency if only to run after Duterte, is willing to  give way to Robredo.

If decency alone is what it takes to be president, Senator Ping Lacson picks Robredo as his bet. He doesn’t believe decency is enough, though. He chooses Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio when it comes to toughness. Between the two, it’s obvious which candidate Lacson will support. Already, Mayor Sara is showing what that toughness mean: she said the Vice President should keep her hands off Davao City. To think  the Vice President was just making a suggestion to help in the fight against COVID in the Duterte turf.

There is no definite word yet as to who will be the Administration presidential  bet, although Mayor Sara seems to be it. The surveys that put her on top should be tempting enough. Besides, there are signs from within and without that President Duterte will face a number of legal problems once he’s out of office. He needs somebody who can and will protect him. One recent rumbling is the issue of probable probe of Duterte for human rights violations by the International Criminal Court.

Predictably, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque has cried foul to high heavens. Senate President Tito Sotto has asked ICC why single out the Philippines when there are other world cases, like Mexico, for instance. You can tell from those who are now circling the presidential wagon who will not support an opposition candidate for president. In any case, both Lacson and Sotto are speculated to be harboring a political tandem in 2022 if the opportunity presents itself. 

Sen. Bong Go is still hanging around. Against Vice President Robredo, he doesn’t stand a China man’s chance of winning, even if China’s President Xi Ping would support him short of invading the voting precincts near the South China Sea. It is true in Philippine politics, although Manila Mayor Isko Moreno doesn’t believe it, political credibility is transferrable to the next of kin. That’s the short and simple explanation for the political dynasty in this part of the world.

Moreno, who will star in a Bonifacio film to be shown before the elections, stands viable and electable  against any Duterte anointed bet. He is both popular and a populist —  he was a long-time Kuya Germs protégé—, he straddles the Lala land of movies and politics and  has displayed an independent mind.   He is also among those picked by Duterte as possible presidential material.  His downside: he can be unwieldy.

 Another big persona who wants to be president is Senator Manny Pacquiao.  But he has been facing strong head winds because of his criticism of Duterte’s position on the South China Sea incursion of China and has  had a few head-butting incidents with some colleagues in the Senate. He still has to learn that politics is, essentially, addition. All is quiet on the Marcoses’ front, and it’s not the silence of the lamb. 

With about two months to go before the filing  of candidacies, both the Administration and the Opposition haven’t firmed up yet their main combatants in the presidential race. Because the stakes are high, and so are the cost, whose ramifications and implications will go beyond  noon of June 30, 2022. 

The presidency is not about doing the right thing, Lyndon Johnson said, but about knowing it. That’s the real challenge— for the Pinoy voters. 

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