Posts Tagged ‘roxas’

The announcement by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, Jr. of a coalition into the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) between the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) led by Vice-President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay and the Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) led by former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada is a major indication that the 2013 midterm national and local election season has already arrived. Most political events, including the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, will thus be affected, one way or the other, by these elections or by the requirements of these elections.

Before this, the ruling Liberal Party (LP), under its president Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, has started its own moves vis-a-vis the 2013 elections. It has undertaken a series of high-profile party raiding, primarily from the ranks of a weakening Lakas-Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-Kampi CMD). One of the recent examples is the switch to the LP of the Ebdane father and son team (Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane and newly-elected 2nd District representative Omar Ebdane) in Zambales.

The LP move and the PDP-Laban coalition building will define the 2013 electoral contest. By no means, however, are these two the only players. There is still the formidable Nacionalista Party led by Senator Manuel “Manny” Villar who reportedly handed the reins to Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. This party keeps its cards close to its chest but quietly organizes on a nationwide scale.

A new party, the Centrist Democratic Party (CDP), led by Lito Lorenzana, has also organized and is challenging the Lakas-Kampi CMD on its political ideology. Before it, the National Unity Party, led by Cebu Rep. Pablo Garcia, split from the the Lakas-Kampi CMD. The latter, considerably weakened due to turncoatism of most of its members to the ruling coalition, is still considered the leadership of the political opposition and is still led by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

A Left party, the Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party (Akbayan) is a significant member of the ruling coalition and an LP ally. Another Left formation, consisting of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Anakbayan, and the like, today plays the independent game, although they aligned with Villar’s and Marcos’ NP during the last elections.

At any rate, the irony of the 2013 elections is the fact that opposite wings of the ruling coalition, LP and PDP-Laban, will lead separate senatorial slates. There is also a distinct possibility of a third NP-led slate.

The principal reason for these developments and scenario is the early pole positioning for the 2016 presidential elections. The president has announced his decision to forego any political move to prolong himself in power and will definitely step down in 2016. It thereby precipitated the early scramble of presidential aspirants to maneuver in the 2013 elections and even before to capture strategic resources such as financing, local alliances, and campaign infrastructures and capabilities.

The 2013 elections is a hunting ground for 2016 elections. No presidential aspirant can ignore its importance. Nor can politicians, whether national or local, ignore the implications of the 2013 elections for 2016 elections and on their own political fortunes. The political hunting season is open.

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The impending appointment by President Noynoy Aquino of his erstwhile vice-presidential candidate and current LP president Mar Roxas to a key position in his inner Cabinet has several political implications. If the reports are true that the envisioned “Chief of Staff” position is imbued with policy formulation and coordination functions, then effectively the “Little President” hat will have to be given to Mar.

This–more than any other indication–speaks of the high level of trust and rapport between the two. Mar is in an excellent position to act as an alter ego of the president, to represent the latter in many functions, and to go around the country without the burden of daily grind of bureaucratic government.

Of the three closest Cabinet positions to the president–the Executive Secretary, head of the Presidential Management Staff, and Chief of Staff–the latter is potentially the most powerful. Its dominant role in the policy-making process will relegate the Executive Secretary to coordination of the various departments and bureaus under the Executive Department–an important work but nevertheless only an implementation level job only, just like the PMS work.

The CoS position also can potentially negate the advantage of the opposition Vice-President in having a free hand in going around the country. This early, it can only highlight the suspicion that VP Binay and Mar Roxas are once again in a collision course in the electoral race, this time as presidential aspirants.

With President Noynoy as party chairman and more LP senior officials joining the Cabinet, the Liberal Party is headed for a party-based rule–a rare event in the post-Marcos period where rainbow coalitions is the norm. To be sure, the Noynoy administration is still coalition-based, particularly in congress and in the local governments. However, the Liberal Party is bidding to be a real party in power.

Can it make it stick without reforming the entire range of political power contestation in the country? It is too early to say but the prospect is interesting.

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