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The Robredo factor

Will Leni Robredo be a plus for Mar Roxas to pull past Grace Poe? The administration Liberal Party thinks so after a reluctant Robredo announced Monday she had agreed to be Mar’s vice presidential running mate. Leni said she went through a lot of agonizing and soul-searching before she arrived at her decision. President Benigno Aquino III tried hard to win Grace as Mar’s running mate but failed. Is Roxas with the ruling party’s vast resources such a hard sell that Leni had to pray to the high heavens for signs she is doing the right thing?      

The way it looks to us, Leni’s entry can only divide the Bicol bloc votes among three other vice presidential candidates—Senators Chiz Escudero, Antonio Trillanes and Gregorio Honasan who like Leni are also all Bicolanos.  This augurs well for Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who, on Monday also announced his decision to join the crowded vice-presidential race.

But Bongbong going after bigger game was what former first lady and incumbent Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda R. Marcos wanted for her son. Imelda’s political instinct saw the changing tide in the presidential race. With Grace Poe’s citizenship issue hanging over her head, Jejomar Binay losing ground and Mar Roxas probably reaching a plateau where he can’t go any higher, the chances for a Bongbong Marcos presidential run was starting to look good. A Marcos-Duterte or Duterte-Marcos tandem would have been a game changer to the presidential equation in 2016. A reliable source said Imelda during a family gathering, had asked Bongbong. “If not now, when?”

Only 58, Bongbong Marcos’ time will come (“sa tamang panahon”). Bongbong has gotten Duterte’s pledge of support. But can Duterte be convinced to run for president to give verve to Marcos’ VP bid? There’s only a week left before the filing of certificates of candidacy deadline on Oct. 12.  For those waiting for what the ambivalent and unpredictable Duterte will do, a lot can still happen in a week, as it did on Monday this week. Were they just trying to beat the deadline? Or a confluence of events that Leni decided to be Mar’s mate, Bongbong announced his run for vice president and the United Nationalist Alliance also broke the news of a Binay-Honasan tandem. 

After floating several names as possible running mate, Binay was at a loss finding someone, anyone, willing to run with him. This is the loneliness of the long-distance runner who hit his stride too early because he ran too early. Then too, those marathon Senate Blue Ribbon committee hearings took its toll on Binay. Whether or not it was a demolition job, the Senate hearings on the allegedly anomalous Makati building contracts during Binay’s watch wiped out the Veep’s early lead. The stink was just too much it was hard not to believe the allegations. Binay, wife Elenita and son Junjun have been charged of graft by the Ombudsman.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Party is doing damage control on the brouhaha generated by The Playgirls’ raunchy performance at the birthday bash of LP Laguna Rep. Benjamin Agarao. Senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino who still has to resign as Metro Manila Development Authority chairman has denied that the Playgirls were his “gift” to the birthday celebrator. Mar Roxas said he had left before the sexually suggestive number which social media panned as “Tuwad na daan”, a pun on PNoy’s “Tuwid na daan.” Someone asked me what “tuwad” means in the vernacular. I said it’s hard to explain without doing a pornographic pose of “dry-humping,” whatever that means.

Now, a House committee wants to call for a probe of the Playgirls. A congressional inquiry in aid of legislation, or in aid of libido? Aw, come on guys, there’s an easier way to get the girls’ phone numbers for reservations to book a private performance! Like the Playgirls said, it’s just work and it’s not the first time they were booked by the Liberal Party. In a Facebook posting to promote themselves, The Playgirls even proudly wear yellow T-shirts with the Tolentino names emblazoned on their chests.  This is ad placement that’s even better than a giant billboard.

There are two options to this whole sordid affair. The first is for Tolentino to forego his senatorial ambition if he has any decency at all. But that would be expecting too much from someone who has done so little in his five-year watch as MMDA chairman. If Tolentino does not voluntary opt out of the LP senatorial slate, the party can simply exclude him from the ticket without any explanation. That would be enough to make a strong statement the Liberal Party does not condone women being given as “gift” like merchandise.

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