You sense the lack of foresight, or the lack of charismatic leaders, when a group looks lost and seems like it is scraping the bottom of the organizational barrel. Or why is the “well-oiled” machine of the administration coalition Lakas-Kampi, with Gilberto Teodoro astride it as presidential bet, sputtering in the choice of his running mate?
Lakas-Kampi propagandists boast about the size of the coalition’s organization for the 2010 elections, with incumbent governors, mayors and congressman supposedly ensuring a victory for Teodoro. But when your top bet is at the bottom of the surveys and you could not find a decent running mate for him, the boast gets exposed as empty talk.
Good teams attract good materials. Consider the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA or the University of the Visayas Green Lancers in the Cesafi. But why is Lakas-Kampi, if it is really a powerhouse group, making do with a Stephen Jackson instead of a Kobe Bryant? Teodoro is no All-Star material, loitering at the bottom of surveys for a reason.
And where’s the Pau Gasol-types for Lakas-Kampi? Ronaldo Puno, considered a wily political operator, wanted to pair off with Teodoro but has backed off from the vice presidential race—again, for a reason. He probably realized that as Lakas-Kampi bet for vice president, he wasn’t going anywhere. But his move exposed the group’s weakness.
Consider what happened when Lakas-Kampi officials went down the list for Puno replacements. They found actress and Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, then Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia—and after that nothing much. Which reminds me. When you look at the list of vice presidential hopefuls rated in the surveys, no Lakas-Kampi leader is there.
Compounding the problem is the refusal of Santos and Garcia to bite. Indeed, why would the two run for vice president when their chances of winning a government post are bigger if they seek reelection? Even Ate Vi, as vice presidential material, lags behind a Mar Roxas or a Loren Legarda in terms of voters’ acceptability nationwide.
Compare Lakas-Kampi’s situation with the other political groups. The Liberal Party went through the process seamlessly, with Noynoy Aquino as presidential bet and Mar Roxas as his running mate. Former president Joseph Estrada has a credible bet for VP in Jejomar Binay. Chiz Escudero will probably end up pairing with Loren Legarda.
To be fair, there’s no sign yet that Lakas-Kampi is a sinking ship, although it looks like it is leaking. That’s why it could not get the national-level candidates it needs for a credible 2010 elections run. Besides, it is too identified with President Arroyo, an unpopular incumbent. The results of the 2007 polls are proofs of this lack of popularity.
Given this reality, I don’t see how Teodoro and whoever will be his running mate could climb up and overtake the leading presidentiables come 2010. Gibo is starting at, what, 4 percent? He even needs to climb up more than 30 percent to overtake Manny Villar. That shows you how formidable Aquino’s 60 percent rating is at this stage.
Of course, the elections are still some seven months away but much as I would like to subscribe to the saying that many things can still happen in that span of time, the divide that separates Gibo from Noynoy is a chasm. And if you think local government officials can be the difference between winning and losing, consider again the 2007 polls. I say that for the administration bet to win in 2010, cheating could be the only option.
(This came out in my October 28, 2009 Candid Thoughts column in Sun.Star Cebu)