The news after the 2007 elections now always carry something about the various speculations on presidentiables in 2010 presidential elections. Many issues now also carry a bit of analysis on their relation to a post-GMA scenario. At the same time, there are still accusations from time to time about possible constitutional changes aimed at a post 2010 GMA-still-in-power scenario.
All these revolve around the continuing political crisis of the GMA administration, which–in the aftermath of the 2007 election–is being complicated by the 2010 presidential contest.
The 2007 elections, particularly the senatorial one, basically confirmed the whole series of surveys on GMA that signified her political isolation from the majority of the electorate. Her senatorial slate got a drubbing, along with a very controversial last-place win for her candidate Senator Miguel Zubiri. The GMA kiss of death, some say. It resulted to her being considered a political lameduck for the rest of her term.
Well, except for two things that will diminish as her term ends. Her silent endorsement is eagerly but silently being solicited by presidentiables who need the money and resources a sitting president can give. The other thing is the behemoth GMA-led coalition that, so far, does not have a viable presidentiable in its stable.
Though it never worked in the past in the post-1986 presidential elections, presidential support supposedly gives a candidate a major advantage. This has to be balanced however with the popular sentiments regarding the sitting president. In all cases in the past, including Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos, and Erap Estrada, negative perception on the president’s performance invariably led to the election debacle of a reelectionist presidential candidate (before Marcos) and a president-anointed candidate (except GMA). Of course, in 1969 Marcos got reelected and, in 2004, GMA retained her presidency. However, both elections are now enshrined in our political history as among the most controversial.
GMA’s current political crisis stems from her alienation from the people–not from her bitter rivalry with the political opposition. The opposition only becomes effective if and when the people clearly side with it. Unfortunately for GMA, the situation beginning in the run-up to the 2004 elections generally went against her. Her December 31, 2002 Rizal Day statement that she will not run in the 2004 presidential elections did not help at all. Her perceived involvement in the Garcillano scandal started the current skid on a slope with no acceptable end in sight.
There are, I think, only two good options open for her: One, to gracefully exit in 2010, patch things up, and try to make good during her remaining days in office; and two, to negotiate with (a) winnable presidentiable(s) on political protection in the post-GMA period.
A third option, to remain in power beyond 2010–as some in her Cabinet propose–is a political minefield. Marcos did it in 1972 with the declaration of martial law–bringing forth the Marcos dictatorship and ruining the country. However, he had a certain level of popular support, the full control of the military, and the tacit tolerance of the Catholic church and Western powers at that time. GMA had none of these today.
All these options are alive in the GMA administration today as she searches for a way out of the political crisis. Time however is not on her side. The next few months may well define the option she ultimately chooses.