This early, one can already discern some of the lines of combat in the 2010 elections. These depends, not so much on the electoral issues as they stand, but rather on the personalities who represent the opposing positions on these issues. The price for the lack of a strong (or real) political party system is that the issues become identified with the presidential candidate–for better or worse.
This is the reason why any candidate will have to bear the burden of becoming all things to all people. Friends and foes alike will attempt to mold the candidate according to their world-view of him or her. It is an irony of Noynoy Aquino’s candidacy and perceived frontrunner’s position that everybody has an advice or comment to give–stop smoking, get married, eschew the reproductive health bill, be your own man and get out from your parents’ shadow, political wimp, etc. These will get worse as the campaign progresses and as long as he maintains the lead.
However, beneath the seeming shallow, frivolous, malicious, or hardline advice or comment, lies all the hopes, and, yes, the dreads, of both would-be supporters and would-be enemies in the electoral campaign. Noynoy Aquino’s candidacy has made it impossible for other presidential candidates to image themselves as the reform candidate.
His is a candidacy that defied the traditional preparations for a presidential bid; the people who moved last August 5 made the decision for him. Thus, the opposition (the opposition to him) must cut him down to size–and rapidly, before he grows to mythic proportion and impossible to defeat.
As it is, the traditional politicians are hard-pressed to produce a viable candidate against Noynoy Aquino. All their previous heroes in Senator Villar, Vice-President de Castro, Senator Escudero, and even former President Estrada have all drastically fallen in the surveys.
Doubting the willingness–and now, the “winnability”–of Vice-President de Castro, the desperately-seeking administration people are placing their bet on Secretary Gilbert Teodoro: all 86 congressmen and 50 governors representing the cream of Philippine dynastic and privileged political elite. If Teodoro’s ground-level survey performance stays (he placed less than 1% in the last surveys), they will be forced to do one of three things: 1) get GMA to step down to enable VP de Castro to come in; 2) go over en masse to Senator Villar; or 3) take a chance on Erap. The more innocent ones may be accepted to Noynoy’s camp.
All these options lead to a possible clash of titans: Noynoy representing the hopes of real change and reform against the one or two champions of the status quo elite-dominated political regime. Strategies will have to start from this fundamental divide in the 2010 elections. Whatever the outcome, post-Marcos Philippine politics will not be the same again.