Recently, there appeared a spate of candidacy declarations of people who, generally, were not candidates for elective positions or else did not contemplate running for national positions. Nick Perlas and Olongapo City Councilor John Carlos de los Reyes are the new declarants for a run at the presidency. They join evangelist Eddie Villanueva. The latest to declare his intention to run is Prof. Randy David–this time against Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for the seat of Pampanga’s second district.
What is common in all of these initiatives? On one hand, there is the judgment of a dearth of candidates espousing genuine reforms. On the other hand, there is the assessment of a new, growing segment of the electorate who will vote–come what may–for reform candidates.
The 2007 elections have brought us some surprises. The victory of Among Ed Panlilio in Pampanga, the reelection of Grace Padaca in Isabela, and the election to the Senate of military rebel Antonio Trillanes are often cited as harbinger of a new trend of reform voters (translate that to anti-trapo voters).
There are indications that this trend will be a factor in the 2010 presidential elections. I don’t think however that this has grown to a point where it can be decisive in electing a presidential candidate. The reason is that it is still on a spontaneous, nebulous awareness stage and not yet reflected as a purposeful, organized movement.
The appearance of new faces based on this, while providing fresh alternatives to jaded voters, will–on the short run–confuse, divide, and ultimately dissipate the impact of this reform factor. There simply are too many candidates, with too few votes, to win. It will also matter that the major presidential candidates will exert their own efforts to woo reform voters.
It is an irony that Prof. David’s tack to run for a congressional seat–even if portrayed as a Don Quixote initiative–may have more chances of winning (sans electoral fraud and violence). Independent reform candidacies at the presidential level simply does not have the critical mass to win by themselves at this time.