What if scenarios
- Boo Chanco (The Philippine Star) - October 13, 2015 - 10:00am

Trying to figure out the complexion of next year’s election can cause a migraine attack. But that is to be expected with our kind of democracy.

It is fiesta time with over 20 people filing to run for president last Monday. There is no real party system to vet the candidates. What looks like political parties are like used condoms that helped satisfy the ambitions of one person.

 Where is the KBL after Marcos? Laban after Cory and Doy? Lakas after FVR? Kampi after GMA?

Even the Liberal Party is a shadow of its past. Many of its members are political opportunists. Nationalista was a franchise bought by Villar for his presidential bid and became a joke after he lost. And NPC is Danding’s party that he no longer wants to finance. Erap’s Partido ng Masang Pilipino is there for Erap, so Binay had to concoct UNA.

Grace and Chiz are forming a brand new party even as there are rumors they will get NPC’s blessings. But that doesn’t mean they are Danding’s anointed.

Then there is the matter of who will finally be the candidates to reckon with. Bongbong Marcos, even if he filed for VP, is reported to be changing his mind after Duterte backed out and may run for president, on the insistence of his mother.

A late breaker: Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago announced she will run for president. This should be fun.

Grace is in danger of a legal technical knockout on a question of being natural born citizen or not. The camp of Grace is supposedly debating a Plan B in case she gets disqualified. But it depends on when the disqualification ruling is issued.

If Grace gets disqualified by the Senate Electoral Tribunal with an adverse citizenship ruling, expect her opponents to use that ruling to get the Comelec to disqualify her presidential run.

Of course Grace can appeal all the way to the Supreme Court and that could take time. Presumably, she can run in the meantime and let the people decide.

But if Comelec decides to disqualify her using the SET ruling as basis, that’s it. If this happens within a certain period, Chiz Escudero could be the substitute candidate.

She will campaign for Chiz and complain to the voters they first cheated her father and now they are preventing them from voting for her. The backlash on the administration party could be significant. Sobrang pang-aapi.

Believe it or not, Heart Evangelista may become First Lady sooner than expected. I will have to admit I was wrong to think the chance of that happening is nil. Lesson learned: never say never in this country of black swans.

Comelec may use extreme discretion on Grace. A Comelec that seems eager to disqualify Grace without a Supreme Court ruling will be seen as acting for the administration that appointed most of its members.

If Andy Bautista and his Comelec colleagues know what is good for them, they will allow her to run and just wait for the Supreme Court to issue a final ruling. Otherwise, there goes the credibility of the entire election.

A recent survey by Jun Laylo, who is technically competent, shows Grace leading by a wide margin. In a four-way: 41 percent Poe. 23 percent Roxas. 22 percent Binay. 13 percent Duterte; In a three-way: 47 percent Poe. 26 percent Roxas. 26 percent Binay. She also leads in all regions, urban and rural. Disqualifying her won’t be easy.

 The legal case of Grace is arguable. There are as many opinions as lawyers one talks to. In the end, we need the SC to make a final ruling and that may be way after Grace takes her oath of office, assuming she wins.

If Grace is disqualified after she takes her oath as president, whoever is vice president will presumably take over. But there is another opinion the second placer will be president on the assumption Grace never was a candidate for a position she was not qualified for. That’s like disenfranchising 40 percent of the voters.

Then again, the Supreme Court may decide to just let the issue remain hanging beyond election day. Making an adverse decision is going against the will of the people. And the SC has a record of letting a fait accompli at the Palace stay. This was the case with GMA when Erap questioned her grounds for taking over the Presidency.

Speaking of GMA, it is also possible she could influence the SC, given she still seems to have quite a solid block of loyalists there. She is supposedly supporting Binay in this contest. If Binay will benefit, he may get GMA’s help. If it is Mar who will benefit from a Grace disqualification, GMA will want to take her chances on Grace.

Then there is Binay. The Ombudsman has found probable cause to file corruption charges against him, his son and some other Makati officials on the supposedly overpriced Makati parking building.

But there is no more danger of Binay being arrested while campaigning. The Ombudsman is recognizing his immunity from facing charges as vice president even if the cases involved his time as Makati mayor.

This means Binay must make sure he wins his presidential bid, otherwise he will face the charges after his VP term of office expires next year.

Expect the opponents to give maximum exposure to the details of the Ombudsman corruption charges during the campaign. And as the survey numbers indicate, Binay is vulnerable to these corruption charges even among the masa.

Mayor JunJun Binay, however, is not as lucky as his father. He will face the charges right now.

The situation in the Binay camp is very interesting. The recent order of the Ombudsman to dismiss Junjun Binay as Makati mayor and permanently disqualify him from public office is causing a serious family discussion.

Of course, the order can be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court too. And in the meantime, Junjun should be able to run for re-election. But what if the Ombudsman is upheld and the order becomes final? Comelec may also drop him, if it gets no injunction issued by a superior court.

That is, of course, unimaginable specially to the sharpest of the Binay children, Rep Abigail Binay, a lawyer. She has offered herself to run for mayor and her husband, to run for her congressional seat. This way, whatever happens to Junjun, Makati City Hall is safe in the hands of a Binay.

Rep. Abigail makes sense. But the mother fought strongly to have Junjun run for re-election and that’s why he is running. Junjun is the mother’s favorite.

It was also because of Dra. Binay’s insistence to have Junjun succeed Jojo that Jojo broke his promise to his vice mayor, Ernesto Mercado, that he could run for mayor when Jojo sought the vice presidency.

Jojo had to pay a high price for breaking his promise to Mercado. Jojo is normally politically savvy to know he has to take care of all the people who know the intimate details of his reign.

Indeed, Mercado may have inflicted mortal damage to the Binay campaign. What they thought was an easy ride from the Coconut Palace to Mala-cañang Palace is now stuck in traffic.

Political analysts have noted a serious drop in Binay’s rating in recent surveys. His solid core had been broken and from my conversations with folks who have done focused group studies, it seems the corruption charges are sticking even with the poor.

While there are those who say “pare-pareho naman silang corrupt” and will vote Binay for the handouts, there is a significant block of the masa who are tired of corruption. Focus group interviews have shown they are able to link corruption with poverty and they don’t like it.

All of a sudden, one political analyst exclaimed, Mar Roxas is a viable candidate. Erap previously threatened to run if Grace is disqualified and Binay is arrested.

But Erap has lost his political charms. He is supposedly only rating third in a three way fight for mayor against Amado Bagatsing and Alfredo Lim.

Even Erap’s bailiwick of San Juan is no longer his for the asking. The incumbent mayor, one of Erap’s many significant others, is facing a stiff fight against the son of Ronnie Zamora, formerly an Erap ally.

Then there are the PCOS machines. I understand Mar Roxas had his staff study those machines inside out when he filed his election protest against Binay. His decision not to pursue the protest, one story has it, is because an honest review may affect P-Noy’s legitimacy.

Guess who has control over those machines now?

No wonder the taipans and business interests who traditionally fund candidates are finding it difficult to make decisions on who to back. Having a friendly president is essential to business so they cannot make a bad guess.

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

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