Martin-Migz vs. Sara-Win vs. Leni-Koko for 2028

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

It will be the clash of three lawyers, two ladies, and one gentleman, a Visayan mestizo, a Mindanao mestizo, and a pure Bicolana. It's too early to tell but the GMA ouster as senior deputy speaker and Inday Sara's resignation from Lakas-CMD is the first salvo of the clash of the titans in 2028. There’s a realignment of the stars in the political universe and in the Philippine political firmament tremors are causing tempests in the teapots of many political parties.

Speaker Martin Ferdinand Gomez-Romualdez, born in 1963, is the third child of Madam Imelda's favorite brother, Benjamin Kokoy Romualdez, former Leyte governor who was at the same time United States ambassador. Kokoy was once named by the Forbes Magazine as the 30th richest man in the world. Martin went to Cornell University from 1981 to 1985, just prior to the EDSA Revolution. In 1988, Martin went to Harvard and earned a certificate in administration and management. Martin earned his law degree from UP in 1992 where he became a member of the Upsilon Sigma Phi Fraternity, and became a lawyer in 1993. In 2015, he declared his candidacy for senator and supported Jojo Binay for president. He and his candidate lost. But he came back as representative of Leyte's 1st district in 2022 and was elected speaker.

Martin married a Cebuana, a granddaughter of the late ALU-TUCP national president Democrito Mendoza, Yedda Marie Kittilstvedt, the Philippine's bet for the 1996 Miss International pageant. Yedda is also a member of Congress, representing the Tingog Sinirangan partylist. Both Martin and Yedda joined the group of members of Congress who voted to deny ABS-CBN’s renewal of their franchise. Martin definitely has the advantage over Sara primarily because of superior campaign kitty, and powered by the incumbency of his first cousin, PBBM with all the presidential powers, prerogatives, and influence. Martin will get the majority of the Visayan votes plus the votes from northern Mindanao if and when he gets Migz Zubiri as his vice presidential teammate. Martin will also get the northern and central Luzon votes with the support of BBM.

Sara will be the underdog but Filipino voters love underdogs, especially if she is a woman of her caliber. Sara Zimmerman Duterte Carpio, born in 1978, will be 50 when she becomes president if she wins over Martin, who will be 65 by then. If Leni will also run, she will be 63 by then. It will be a derby where a lawyer from UP, Martin, will clash with a lawyer from San Sebastian, Sara, and Leni from the University of Nueva Caceres. Sara was mayor of Davao for quite a time, replacing her father who was term-limited. She never lost an election in her life. In the last vice presidential fight she got 32,208,417 or 61.53%. She even got more votes than PBBM, who was credited by Comelec with 31,629,783 votes. Sara defeated Kiko Pangilinan, Tito Sotto, and all the rest whose total combined votes could still not win over her.

If Robredo runs again in 2028, we hope that she can garner more than what the Comelec credited her in 2022, which was only 15,035,773 or 27.94%. Leni is a good alternative because she’s the only one among the three who has no political dynasty. Martin will just perpetuate the Marcos presidency and the manner of governance that FM Sr. showed from 1966 to 1986. Sara, no matter how much she tries to distance herself from the image of Manong Digong, will still be a Duterte much more than a Zimmerman or a Carpio. Her strong, decisive, firm, and aggressive stance is too Duterte and whether consciously or unconsciously, her manner of decision-making and politicking is very Duterte. Only Leni will be a breath of fresh air. But her major problem is logistics again and, ultimately, the honesty in the counting of votes.

As always, the better candidate may not win because she will be defeated by the more moneyed, more well-connected, and sometimes by the counting machines. Remember that Don Sergio Osmeña was defeated by Manuel Roxas, Diosdado Macapagal lost to FM Sr., Miriam was defeated by FVR, FPJ was trounced by GMA and Leni lost to the man she defeated in 2016. Cheating is not a new game. Andres Bonifacio was cheated by the Magdalos in 1898 in the infamous Tejeros Convention, where the first ever "Hello Garci" electoral controversy was concocted and produced results. The rest is history or her story.

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