FAIR COMMENT | Alito L. Malinao
There are only two ways to beat Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the presumptive administration candidate for president in next year’s polls.
One is for the political opposition to unite and field a single candidate for president and the other is for Senator Manny Pacquiao to push through with his plan to run for the highest post and split the votes for the administration.
The first one is the most problematic to achieve based on recent developments. Former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio, lead convenor of the 1Sambayan coalition, had correctly pointed out that only with a single candidate can the opposition beat the chosen candidate of President Duterte.
But this is easier said than done. While only Senator Panfilo Lacson seems determined to pursue his presidential ambition as an opposition candidate, others like former Senator Antonio Trillanes and possibly Vice President Leni Robredo of the Liberal Party (LP) could also run. Then there is Senator Richard Gordon who has already announced his intention to also run.
The vice president, for reasons only known to her, recently met with Lacson and Gordon. What was her reason for meeting with the two senators? If her goal was to convince either Lacson or Gordon to be her running mate, then she was in for a big surprise.
Lacson, not coy in disclosing supposedly confidential information, told the media that in her meeting with Robredo, he offered the latter with a sure “unification formula” but this was rejected by the vice president. Obviously, the formula is for Robredo to support his candidacy. Was Robredo’s rebuff of Lacson a sign that she will run for president. This possibility still hangs on the air, especially since in a television interview, she admitted that her low rating in a Pulse Asia survey has worried her. In the survey, she got just 6 percent compared to Sara’s 28 percent, who topped the survey.
She also practically denigrated her own party, saying that after the term of the late President Noynoy Aquino, the party has lost many of its members and the current members, she jokingly said, could just fit a Volkswagen. It seems that Robredo is now a loser even without even going into a fight.
The tandem of Senator Lacson as president and Vicente Sotto III as vice president is firming up to be a strong team especially now that Lacson has joined as chairman of the Reporma Party, the party founded by Renato de Villa. The tandem will now be supported by a grand coalition that will include Reporma Party, Nationalist People’s Coalition and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of former Vice President Jejomar Binay.
The dark horse
Not to be left out in the presidential race is former Senator Antonio Trillanes who has derided Robredo’s tete-a-tete with Lacson and Gordon. It is our feeling that Trillanes would run for president under his Magdalo Party regardless of what the LP would decide in the case of Robredo.
If Pacquiao, who is only 42, would decide to postpone his quest for the presidency and give way to Mayor Duterte, then the feisty daughter of the president would be a formidable candidate. But if Manny decides to run, then it will mean that the huge Cebuano-speaking bloc would be fragmented and this could ensure the victory of a single opposition candidate.