At this time, there are only five probable presidential candidates who have the serious chance to be the next president of the Philippine Republic. In alphabetical order, they are Benigno “Noynoy” C. Aquino III, Francis Joseph “Chiz” G. Escudero, Joseph “Erap” M. Ejercito Estrada, Gilberto “Gibo” C. Teodoro, Jr., and Manuel “Manny” B. Villar, Jr.
Sen. Noynoy Aquino was not a candidate until his mother’s death and the related events pushed him to consider and eventually decide to run for presidency. The August 5 resurgent people power movement basically nominated him as the reform and change candidate. In doing so, the deep-seated aspirations of those involved in those notable events for a better future chose Noynoy.
Within the constitutional political spectrum, he fills up the broad leadership vacuum that stretched from the Left to Right of Center. The question now is whether he can sustain his broad appeal and defend this against the certain attacks from his opponent(s) until election day. He also has to convert the popular upsurge into solid and effective campaign organization and movement. However, as it is, it already catapulted him to the pole position, with a daunting lead over all other presidentiables.
Sen. Chiz Escudero is losing his grip on the youth vote and the reform agenda. To compound his problems, he still has to expand and consolidate his political base among the local political power holders. The critical funds and nationwide organization also weigh heavily on his possible campaign.
Former president Erap Estrada has still a major influence and even a certain hold on the constituency that gave him the landslide victory in 1998. However, this constituency has been considerable whittled down and there is uncertainty if this can still deliver on election day. He is also saddled with the constitutional and legal challenges that will certainly haunt him until election day, if his candidacy survive that far.
Secretary Gibo Teodoro suffers from a crippling survey perception as the cellar-dweller. There is also the fact that he is the least well-known of the five presidentiables. His support from the members of the ruling coalition is, at best, uncertain. This despite the recent announcements of coalition members for him.
The erstwhile survey leader, Senator Manny Villar, suffers the most damage from the current configuration. He is losing the youth and reform vote to Noynoy, the poor vote to Erap, and the traditional politicians to Gibo. Unless he can effectively turn back the candidacies of at least two or three of the other candidates, he will have the tough job of maintaining the critical mass for a serious crack at the presidency. The advantage of his moderate stance, however, is that he is in a position to possibly do so precisely because of his solid organization and abundant funds.
Noynoy has a big advantage in having placed the 2010 presidential election campaign on his terms. By staking out the claim to the reform agenda, he thereby dares the others to top him in terms of their own reform agendas.
This is exceedingly difficult at this moment. The alternative for them is a forced political marriage(s) to put up a credible traditional political campaign against him. It may come as no surprise that the number of candidates may further dwindle to four, three or even two.
The certainties of the presidential campaign strategies have turned to dilemmas.