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Just too many people running for president!

We have to admire the courage of our good friend, Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde when he went to the streets of Mendiola to sympathize with the thousands of rallyists from media groups and leftist organizations who were protesting the government’s supposed inaction on the Maguindanao massacre. Cerge was accompanied by NBN Chairman Jose Isabelo and they were cordially met by the rallyists’ leaders, Partylist Reps. Satur Ocampo and Liza Masa, both of whom are running for Senator.

But when Cerge wanted to speak on stage to tell them that he sympathized with their cause… he was instead met with jeers and boos from the rallyists and pieces of paper thrown at his face. I’m sure that Cerge knew beforehand that most leftist rallies are first all anti-Arroyo if not anti-government and they’re nothing but mob rule. But this did not deter Cerge after all; he has been a mediaman all his life and was even the National Chairman of Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters sa Pilipinas (KBP).

Clearly the protesters did not want a dialogue with Malacañang in order to be clarified with questions about the massacre. Instead, they saw an opportunity to make fun of a Malacañang official and used the presence of Cerge in order to make the news headlines by their insults and jeers. If Cerge didn’t bother to go there, that rally would have gotten less or not publicity. I have talked with many people and a lot of them praised Cerge for even trying. So next time around, we can expect Cerge not to appear anymore.

I’m sure that the past of Cerge Remonde hasn’t been forgotten by the leftist groups, after all, we were together in Cebu when we created the People’s Alliance Against Communism (PAAC) and later we coalesced with the Alsa Masa during the early years of the Cory Aquino Regime. So what lessons can we learn from this incident? That they are meant to embarrass the President by rallies that they use as their propaganda tool.

This is the problem with the leftist groups who are waging a hate campaign against the Arroyo Administration, which also includes many in the opposition. They wanted quick action on the Maguindanao Massacre, but in fairness to the prosecutors handling the case, they had to build a lock tight case against the powerful Ampatuans who we now know has hired 50 top notch lawyers, who will surely use all sorts of legal technicalities or loopholes to get their man out of jail.

Just imagine if the government immediately arrested Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and they still couldn’t get any hard evidence within 48 hours, then the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) would have to free him and what a howl that would have made? I don’t blame the Arroyo Administration for the not-so-quick reaction into this case, but now that the NBI has collated enough evidence, plus eyewitnesses to this mass murder, I believe that they have a very strong case to put Mayor Ampatuan into several life terms! As the old adage says, “Haste makes waste”. At least the prosecutors did their homework well and I think they have a lock tight case!

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With the deadline for the filing of Certificates of Candidacies (CoC) already passed, the final count of people running for President is… 81! What? 81 people are running for President of this country, while there are 16 people vying to become Vice-President? In this crazy democracy of ours, anyone can run for President… but we know too well that in this contest, there are no second placers. There will only be one winner who will become President and the rest are called losers. However in this country, no one ever loses an election, so in this case there will be 80 people who were cheated out of the Presidency!

Of course the Presidentiables with a good chance of winning the Office of the President are as follows: former Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro, Jr. Sen. Manny Villar, Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and the late entry is Sen. Richard “Dick” Gordon. The “also-rans” are, former convicted-but-pardoned Pres. Joseph “Erap” Estrada (I did not put him in the first list because the Supreme Court may just rule that he cannot run again for the same position), Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Bro. Eddie Villanueva and former Congressman Mark Jimenez.

As far as the Vice-Presidential race is concerned, we only have three major contenders, from Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas, Sen. Loren Legarda and TV showbiz host Edu Manzano. The late entry to this race is former Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Bayani Fernando who was supposed to run for President and denied that he was running for the vice-presidential post. In the end, Fernando had to swallow his words when he played second fiddle to Sen. Gordon, which would be costly for him.

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For email responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com. His columns can be accessed through www.philstar.com.

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