A yellow problem

The next elections are just 13 months and a half away.

In previous years, by this time of the year, the political cauldron would already be starting to boil, especially for those aspiring for national positions. In fact, almost all presidential wannabes will have started to go around the country to meet local leaders and gain media mileage.

If I remember correctly, then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte started to visit other cities and provinces during the first quarter of 2015. Although he hadn’t made up his mind yet at the time, he was testing the waters. He met with political leaders and civil society leaders to feel the pulse of the people. At the back of his mind, a presidential candidacy was already taking form. And comparing his experience with other presidential candidates, Mayor Digong was a relatively late in preparing for his candidacy.

Hence it is easy to see that the opposition is faced with a tough problem in deciding who to field as a common candidate to challenge the anointed bet of the administration. With his trust and approval ratings continuing to soar toward the tail-end of his term, President Duterte enjoys a rare advantage of an incumbent transferring his political capital to the candidate he endorses.

It’s something we seldom witness in politics, because in most cases, incumbents will have already slid to the bottom in survey charts, and their endorsement will carry no weight. But it’s different with President Duterte, especially that majority of Filipinos want continuity in his leadership brand, and his personal choice will bring an assurance to the people that he or she packs the same capability he has become known for.

Right now, there are two names at the top of the list in people’s minds: former Senator Bongbong Marcos and Davao City mayor Sara Duterte. Only lately, the name of Senator Bong Go was added to the list after President Duterte joked about his former aide’s interest in running for the Presidency.

President Duterte can pick any one of these three as presidential candidate, and we will find a certain winner.

Things are rather different in the ranks of the opposition, however.

It was just two weeks ago that a convenor group composed of two retired Supreme Court justices and a former Foreign Affairs secretary in the Aquino administration announced their plan to persuade possible contenders to unite behind a single standard bearer.

The announcement was met with jeers and boos in the arena of social media.

Clearly, it’s a tough job that the 1Sambayan has placed upon its shoulders. The probable contenders in their list, except for Senator Grace Poe, could hardly make a ripple in previous surveys on their winning chances. Leni Robredo remains its top bet, but from their body language, one can detect a growing sense of doubt about the viability of her candidacy. Survey after survey placed Robredo at the bottom among presidential preferences.

Trillanes? He can probably be considered if it were a game of “dama” (Filipino checkers) which allows a “pirde-gana” scame, or losers win. I can bet that Trillanes would not even make it to the top 24 among senatorial candidates, with only twelve being declared as winners. And I’m still being kind and polite in making that statement.

Nancy Binay? No way. Kiko Pangilinan? You must be kidding. Franklin Drilon? Oh even the convenors wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole. He is now a political pariah. Mar Roxas? Well, he seems to be enjoying life as a father to twins. His wife, Korina, has officially declared him as retired from politics.

Only Grace Poe and Manila City mayor Isko Moreno are left as the most feasible options for 1Sambayan.

Will Grace Poe consider being the standard bearer for the yellow-and-red colors of 1Sambayan? I’m sure that if he idea of a second attempt at the Presidency has entered her mind, it will not be as 1Sambayan candidate. Being affiliated with this group will only put heavy political luggage on the shoulders of Poe, a handicap a challenger from the opposition cannot afford to carry.

Isko Moreno is popular. But he is just on his first term as City Mayor of Manila. He is young. Time is on his side. The practical thing is for him to finish three terms and build, and strengthen, his popularity. No need to hurry. Hence, the name of Isko Moreno can be scratched from the 1Sambayan shopping list.

After the launch, things seem to have quieted down for 1Sambayan. Only the mainstream media has kept its voice audible. It hasn’t created a sense of excitement for a major political showdown in the May 2022 elections. Honestly, this is one race that will be the most boring.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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