The next two or three weeks will do it. The ones left standing–that is what we should call the presidentiables who finally decide to slug it out for the 2010 presidential election. The others may slide down to either vice-presidency or senatorial contest.
Despite the message that is the August 5 people power, most these presidentiables calculate that each of them has the funds, allies, and/or popularity to win in the May 10, 2010 elections. Predictably, they would stake their candidacy on the insufficiency of people power to deliver the votes. They would reduce Noynoy Aquino’s sudden and high-profile foray into the presidential contest as a mere LP ploy to use the August 5 surge of sympathy for the late Cory Aquino.
The stakes are so high that–even with glaring constitutional and legal handicaps–former president Joseph “Erap” wants to run, and president Macapagal-Arroyo, her senior allies, and even former president Fidel Ramos, want to field an administration candidate even without a viable one within its ranks.
There is more than an even chance that Senator Manny Villar will continue his quest for presidency. He is reputed to have the largest campaign chest, the largest network and the highest popularity.
Likewise, Senator Chiz Escudero is half-way towards the decision although it is also possible that he would defer to more senior one(s).
Vice-President Noli de Castro is in a quandary–he can accept the administration’s nomination and likely lose due to the unpopularity of president Macapagal-Arroyo. He may also slide down if he cannot get the nomination on his terms. That Secretary Gilbert Teodoro–despite his fractional percentage showing in the surveys–can be considered and endorsed by the ruling coalition’s governors points to the desperation now besetting the time-pressed ruling coalition.
The rest of the pack are much further from the starting point and will not figure much in the coming presidential race.
Noynoy Aquino–if he so decides–will turn all conventional calculations on presidential winnability on their heads. The people power of August 5 is an imponderable that is very difficult to reduce to votes–even for Noynoy. At the end of the day, it is still these votes that count.
The high stakes push the other presidentiables to downplay–if not outrightly denigrate–Noynoy’s candidacy. This is a risky proposition that can reduce their own votes and transfer these to Noynoy’s. However, they have no choice since the momentum of August 5 events–if not scuttled–can also scuttle their own plans.
There never was any chance for opposition unity behind a single candidate, even if it is Noynoy Aquino. In fact, in the absence of a strong administration candidate, the concept of an opposition–much more the unity of the opposition–is irrelevant.