Running scared

Running scared – Apr. 15, 2004 is my column for today.

Meanwhile, the group Action for Economic Reforms, in ABS-CBNNEWS.COM , published a manifesto warning of the grave fiscal crisis facing the country.

Max Soliven, in his column in today’s Star, writes,

I think it was a bizarre photograph on the front page yesterday: FPJ paying his “respects” before the waxen effigy of Macoy in his tomb in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

There was Imeldific, of course, in her widow’s weeds, plus, behind them, Senator-cum-grise eminence Tito Sotto, striving to give the lie to the rumor that Tito had been replaced as Poe’s campaign manager by Jojo Binay.

So there’s no “new Poe”? Only the old Mano Po to the old gang? Haven’t seen the metamorphosis – yet. In any event, while we may fume at the dictator FM’s harsh memory, we mustn’t be surprised at FPJ laying a wreath at Ferdinand Marcos’ grave. After all, Imeldita was Ninang when Ronnie and Susan Roces were married, so Panday can’t ignore his recumbent Ninong FM.

If FPJ, though, gets elected President, I trust we won’t have that nonsense about disinterring Marcos and reburying him with pomp and circumstance in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. Even Erap para sa mahirap couldn’t accomplish that. Let Macoy remain where he is, like some waxen Lenin, Mao Zedong or Ho Chi Minh, his cadaver poised to appear “incorruptible” – at least after death.

In the same paper, political scientist Alex Magno weighs in with this analysis, apropos of Roco:

Raul Roco, quite obviously, competes for the same constituency that President Gloria needs in order to win: the middle class, urban, young voters who are forward looking and anxious for a quicker pace of modernization for our country. That, in a nutshell, is the “Roco problem”.

With Roco’s command of the Bicol vote, the most tribal ethno-linguistic grouping, President Gloria has been having difficulty building a lead in what pollsters call “Balance of Luzon” – the large voting population outside the National Capital Region. With Roco’s virtual withdrawal from the race, President Gloria will now have complete dominance of the ABC vote and will likely improve her ratings in the Bicol region. That, in turn, will allow her to balance off the “Balance of Luzon” vote and improve on the slight lead she has developed in the Manila area over her main challenger.

All six incumbent governors of the Bicol region support President Gloria. But they have had difficulty breaking the ethnic predisposition of their voters. Now, they should have an easier job.

With Roco sidelined, President Gloria could further increase her overwhelming advantage in the Visayas, break even or even win Mindanao, take the Manila area and afford to break even in the “Balance of Luzon” on the road to electoral victory.

Roco’s untimely departure takes the wind out of whatever “unity” could be forged between the Lacson and FPJ camps. The surveys show that PGMA will be the biggest beneficiary of a Roco exit from the race.

Given all tangible considerations, and pending any currently imponderable development, President Gloria could easily surpass Estrada’s 39 percent share of the vote in the 1998 contest. Getting 40 percent of the vote is now a conservative target.

If the FPJ campaign continues to self-destruct, the higher target the K4 campaign could set for itself is winning a majority mandate on May 10. That will ensure a strong base of legitimacy and a political base strong enough to allow President Gloria to push for the hard reforms she could not tackle the past three years with her legitimacy questioned and her political mandate undefined.

Raul Roco could do something more heroic for our democracy than simply walking away from this contest. He could endorse the incumbent, not to favor President Gloria personally if that is hard for him to do, but to be a partner in helping forge a majority presidency for our country.

Finally, in Malaya-The National Newspaper, JB Baylon weighs in with his top six choices for senator.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

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