Cinderella returns

posted October 09, 2015 at 12:01 am
by Jojo Robles

If you still don’t have a presidential candidate next May, perhaps you should consider going for Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, should she decide to run. The odds against Miriam winning may be a lot greater than when she first sought the presidency in 1992, but that is not reason enough not to vote for her.

Writing in her Facebook account last Wednesday, Miriam broached the idea of reprising her Cinderella run, when she captured the imagination of a voting public that was tired of the scorched-earth politics of 23 years ago and looking for an alternative, reform-oriented candidate. In that seven-way battle, Miriam placed second with 4,468,173 votes (19.72 percent), losing only to Fidel V. Ramos, who got 5,342,521 votes (23.58 percent).

“I’m not going to be coy,” Santiago wrote. “Society leaders have urged me to seek the presidency. I can rise to the occasion.”

Yesterday, Miriam took to Facebook again. “I first ran for President in 1992 against politicians who had at their disposal both money and machinery,” she said. “I, on the other hand, only had the will of the people behind me.”

Of course, Santiago has long insisted that Ramos cheated her out of a win in 1992. To this day, she has not forgiven the political operators of the Ramos camp whom she accuses of robbing her of victory.

Miriam is still very much a political force to reckon with. Her two bestselling “Stupid is Forever” joke books, her enviable social media presence and her backbreaking tour of the campus lecture circuit have ensured that she is still as relevant —if not more relevant—than when she started out as a tough-as-nails former judge with the gift of putting down her foes.

Yes, Miriam has also been slowed down by cancer, which she says she has been cured of. But the illness, thank goodness, has not stopped her from venting her ire on the corrupt, the incompetent and the stupid— and those who are all of those at the same time.

I’ve always been a Miriam fan, of course. And if she runs, I will have to seriously revisit my own evaluation of the current field.

* * *

Unless you’re blind or don’t venture out of the house, you couldn’t have missed those posters put up all over Metro Manila this week, featuring the faces of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Alan Peter Cayetano with the captions “Para Sa Pagbabago!” and “Laban Na!” And maybe you, too, have asked: “What’s going on here?”

Well, it’s pretty obvious that the posters have been put up by the people of Cayetano, who is desperately seeking Duterte as his presidential candidate. Whether or not Duterte will be convinced by Cayetano to run with him (or even to run at all) remains to be seen.

My sources in the Davao mayor’s camp tell me that, yes, Duterte is probably running for the highest office in the land. But he’s not really made up his mind about whether to name Cayetano or his other suitor, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., as his running mate.

Right now, the Intramuros proclamation set for tomorrow, which I reported in this column yesterday, is still an all-Marcos gig, these sources have told me. Just like the blanket (and expensive) postering in Metro Manila appears to be an all-Cayetano affair.

If Duterte is declaring his intentions, I’m told, it’s not going to happen tomorrow, a Saturday, apparently because the mayor doesn’t think it’s a propitious day to make such an important announcement. If the mayor is declaring, they said, he’s going to do it on Sunday, right before the end of the filing deadline next week.

The people trying to convince Duterte to declare his intentions either with Cayetano or Marcos are telling the mayor that he would look “weak” if he doesn’t have a running mate when he declares. Others in the Duterte camp believe the reverse is true, that he can proclaim this desire to seek the presidency by his lonesome, because everyone already knows that two senators are aching to be named his vice presidential candidate.

Duterte’s advisers tell me that the mayor himself hasn’t categorically chosen either senator, diplomatically telling both (as much as someone like Duterte can be diplomatic, anyway) that he will support them both in their bids to run for vice president in the elections next May, after both visited him in Davao. This has apparently given Marcos and Duterte enough encouragement to declare that the mayor has chosen them both—an unlikely scenario, of course.

But Duterte is well-known for keeping his cards close to his chest, refusing to telegraph his moves even to his closest advisers. And he is also known to be fiercely independent and impervious to outside pressure, like what Cayetano is applying to stampede him into adopting the senator as running mate.

All of which will surely give both Marcos and Cayetano jitters as the filing deadline approaches. Let’s see how this turns out.

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