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Our muddled political scene

It doesn’t seem like there is anyone with a clear road to Malacañang in 2016. Jojo Binay and Mar Roxas are in panic mode. Grace Poe is sounding more self assured, but the threat of a technical knock out via a legal challenge to her candidacy is a reality.

Rody Duterte is the most energetic non-candidate on the move. Ping Lacson is feeling ignored, but is doing his homework for a major expose.

Ping told a group of my economist friends last week the 2015 national budget is filled with discretionary funds amounting to at least P424 billion. The lump sum funds were “parked” in the budget of 11 out of 21 major line agencies of the national government. Hmmm... campaign funds for Mar or whoever is the Liberal Party bet?

Bongbong Marcos is sharpening his skills in delivering headline baiting one-liners. But until he addresses the Marcos hidden wealth issue, his credibility will remain low. As governor of Ilocos Norte, his sister Imee seems to have done more for the province in the same position than he did during his term. 

Alan Peter Cayetano is still running his TV commercials, desperate to increase his number from near zero. I heard Mar is ready to take him as a running mate, but P-Noy still remembers the hurtful things Alan said about his mental health in 2010.

According to The Freeman (May 3, 2010), Cayetano said in Cebu with reference to P-Noy’s mental health: “Dapat niyang sagutin ng diretso ang isyu. Legitimate ang issue ng mental state ng mga kandidatong tumatakbo.”

Senator Trillanes is sure he wants to be vice president, except no one is inviting him to be a running mate. He has to do a better job of convincing the Ombudsman there is now enough evidence to file a plunder case against Binay… then he can claim credit and possibly boost his ambition.

The Binays are crying persecution and the Veep is accusing the Liberal Party of planning a dictatorship. But that’s not getting anywhere because the real danger is in a Binay dynasty, if he ever gets elected.

Sending Binay to Malacañang may lead to a dynasty that is as good as a dictatorship for a very long time. Just see what happened in Makati over nearly 30 years.

P-Noy is in a panic over who to endorse. I take it he wants to endorse Mar, but doubts Mar’s electability. So he is trying to play matchmaker by convincing Grace to team up with Mar.

P-Noy even proposed Grace go around the country with Mar. But Grace is too intelligent to fall for a lame attempt to make Mar gain some visibility by being seen with Grace. Too polite to say no to the President, Grace agreed, but only if Chiz Escudero could come along and I suppose that defeats P-Noy’s purpose.

 And speaking of Chiz, folks who are ready to go for Grace are having very serious second thoughts because Grace seems too enamored with Chiz. Grace with Chiz is unthinkable. Chiz negates whatever positive things we see with a Grace presidency. Chiz seems the Rasputin who will negate people’s idea of a season of Grace.

I hope Grace is not allowing Chiz to run her political life. I want to think Grace, as tough a woman as she is, is just using Chiz to get the veteran politicians off her back. See how she used Chiz to say no to a trip around the country with Mar!

This is the reaction of Tony La Vina of the Ateneo School of Government to a blog of a certain Joe America against Grace: “This does not pass the laugh test – this propaganda piece written in panic against Grace Poe. Those who know and work with her will know this is not what she is – if anything, Grace Poe is a strong, principled, quite focused, and very disciplined person.

“She is of course loyal, but as she had shown with the Binays and the Estradas, her loyalty to her friends ends with her duty to the country. Those who are bullying her to drop Chiz or those blackmailing her with legal issues will soon see that this is a woman of steel.”

Grace is on a roll. I just heard a tycoon’s privately commissioned poll now puts Grace at 51 percent. The tycoon is not about to allow anything but an honest poll because that will be the basis of a decision to support a presidential candidate. The tycoon needs to be in the good graces of whoever is in Malacanang because of the nature of his businesses and this tycoon always wins.

If Grace astutely plays her cards right, as she is doing now, she may be at the 60 percent level very soon… the same level that catapulted P-Noy to the presidency. That is scaring Binay and Roxas. If she shows really solid support, the legal challenges to her candidacy may get nowhere.

Since the challenges call for a nuanced interpretation of Constitutional requirements, even the Supreme Court may hesitate to go against the perceived will of the people. They did it before when Ate Glue got a favorable ruling that legitimized her hold to power after that civilian-led coup toppled Erap.

It is still all fuzzy now. P-Noy may hesitate to endorse anyone soon. He is obviously getting impatient with Mar’s numbers. His meetings with Grace are getting more frequent and longer, betraying his uneasiness.

Then again too, we haven’t even started to examine the spouses of the candidates. After the Arroyo presidency, we now know we are electing two people when we vote for the presidency… no, not the vice presidential running mate but the wife or husband. Can the spouse be trusted?

We ought to know more about former Mayor Elenita Binay, Korina Sanchez-Roxas and the spouse of Grace Poe whose name and source of livelihood not many of us know. We are effectively voting for them too and it is important that we are comfortable with them being First Lady or First Gentleman.

One reason I want Joey Salceda is he brings no one but himself. Then again, he could end up like P-Noy who is not married but brought in a cabal of KKKs who messed up things as seriously as if he had several errant spouses.

For me, the best outcome is for Binay to be effectively taken out of the running by a Sandiganbayan case… Mar Roxas realizes he doesn’t have what it takes to be our leader, given his pitiful performance track record over the last five years… Grace decides she needs a little more time at the Senate to establish her political record and erase all doubts on her eligibility.

This opens up the field to fresh candidates like Gov. Joey or even Frank Drilon and Dick Gordon who have proven themselves. Indeed, Ralph Recto or Kiko Pangilinan would also be like fresh wind blowing. Ralph and Kiko are both married to showbiz celebrities, but are themselves proven worthy political leaders.

We seriously need to press the restart button for our political contest next year. Otherwise, there is no reason to be hopeful things could be better for a very long time to come.

MRT-3 maintenance

The press release from DOTC touts the awarding of one of the MRT-3 maintenance contracts to a “German Filipino joint venture.” But the release also identified the Filipino firm is Comm Builders & Technology. It is represented by the same person who is also president of PH Trams, who in Oct. 10, 2012 received a Notice to Proceed on the controversial MRT-3 maintenance contract worth $ 1,150,000.00 a month.

Reports also have it that two of the “new” contractors are actually affiliated to current maintenance provider Autre Porte Technique Global Inc or APT Global. That’s the same firm under fire for the MRT system’s breakdown.

The firms were Global Epcom Services Inc., awarded the handling of the upkeep of buildings and facilities for a contract of P23.35 million, and Future Logic Corp., awarded the maintenance of the ticketing system for a contract of P6.95 million.

Another company, Trilink Technologies Inc., is said to be linked with the family of a prominent national politician based on SEC records. It was awarded the communications component but does not have a track record in railway systems.

The DOTC earlier said that splitting the upkeep into seven components would help improve the aging MRT’s operations. But there is no single point of responsibility and they would just blame each other.

Since they are mostly the same dogs with slightly different collars, we can’t keep our hopes high. The cast of characters are more or less the same.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is bchanco@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco

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