When Ralph Recto resigned from his NEDA post and declared his openness to a senatorial bid, not necessarily as a Lakas-Kampi-CMD candidate, he started what threatens to be an avalanche. An avalanche of defections from the ruling GMA coalition, that is.
So far, the following allies of the president have declared their intention to realign: Recto and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago (who have said they are open to drafting by Senator Manny Villar for his senatorial ticket); Secretary Luis Villafuerte (who declared his support for Senator Chiz Escudero–as part of the Bicolano block); and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales’ PDSP (which declared its openness to realignment).
Many more are expected to follow as the ruling GMA coalition disintegrates in the face of the political death of its charter change initiative and the lack of a strong presidential candidate. Its present number one potential, Vice President Noli de Castro, has so far brushed off all offers to be the Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate. The next one in line, Secretary of Defense Gilbert Teodoro, is hard-pressed to crawl higher from his cellar-dweller position in the surveys.
There is no more time for pondering the options. Either the ruling GMA coalition produce a viable candidate in the next few weeks or it has to accept the fact of its lameduck presidency and its probable disintegration.
The GMA administration is getting desperate. It has been in a very defensive mode since the death and funeral of former president Cory Aquino. The huge national mourning–tantamount to an exhibition of a new people power–has effectively derailed its plans.
The current all-out anti-Abu Sayyaf campaign and the plan to issue a total gun ban should be monitored for their possibilities for escalation of the armed conflict with the Moro rebels. This can be very provocative and led to miscalculations, as Marcos experienced in 1973 when he ordered the same policy.
Even if the Abu Sayyaf is defeated in the battlefield and it reaps the political windfall, this will not be enough to counter the conclusive unpopularity of the GMA administration. It will not be enough to neutralize the “kiss of death” for its chosen presidential candidate.
Short of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaving the political scene or her coalition resorting to emergency rule, it is now certain that realignments will continue, not only in the ruling coalition but also in the opposition. The 2010 general elections are now the defining scenario.