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The circus is coming

This is the 37th article that I have written in this space.  Reviewing previous articles printed by  The Standard, I recall that the first one was entitled, “It’s a Four-Way Fight in 2016”. 

And indeed, now that the deadline for filing certificates of candidacy for the presidency is just nine days away, there will be four, namely: Vice President Jejomar Binay y Cabauatan of Batangas, Isabela and his political base of Makati City where he and his family have held sway since 1986, when President Corazon C. Aquino named him officer-in-charge of the country’s then and now richest though area-small local government unit.  Because Makati is host to headquarters of the nation’s biggest corporations who pay the biggest amount of taxes, Mayor Binay has been able to fund so many privileges to its less than a million citizens, from quality health care to free birthday cakes to senior citizens.  Binay was orphaned early of lower middle-class parents, and had to work his way to law school at the State University.  But he has become famously rich, the provenance of his wealth now under microscopic scrutiny;

Secretary Manuel Roxas y Araneta, who apart from being a senator of the realm for six years (2004-2010), was congressman of Capiz, then Secretary of Trade and Industry under Presidents Estrada and Arroyo, and Secretary of Transportation and later, Secretary of Interior and Local Governments under President Benigno S. Aquino III, with whom he ran as vice-presidential candidate in 2010, but lost by a whisker to Binay.  Roxas is from landed gentry, to the manor born.  His paternal grandfather and namesake Manuel Sr. was the first President of the Third Republic who married Dona Trinidad de Leon of Bulacan and Manila, and sired Mar’s father, Gerardo Roxas who also topped the senatorial elections in 1963.  Gerry ran for vice president under the LP with Diosdado Macapagal in 1965, but lost to fellow Ilonggo, Fernando Lopez who teamed up with Marcos.  On his maternal side, Mar’s mother Judy Araneta is one of three children of Negrense sugar baron and owner of the Cubao shopping district,  J. Amado Araneta, whose Araneta Coliseum was once touted an architectural marvel and the world’s biggest dome in 1960 when it was opened.  Schooled in the Ateneo and Wharton in the US East Coast, Roxas is old ultra-rich, “ilustrado” to the core;

Senator Grace Poe y Sonora, married to Neil Llamanzares, was, as her narrative goes, a foundling abandoned in the baptismal font of Jaro Cathedral in Iloilo, of yet unknown biological parents, and after a series of informal adoptions, was legally adopted by the King and Queen of Philippine Movies, Fernando Poe Jr. of San Carlos City, Pangasinan and Susan Roces of the Sonora-Locsin clan in Negros Occidental.  She was schooled at exclusive Catholic schools, St. Paul’s and Assumption, later took her freshman undergraduate courses in U.P. Manila, and transferred to Boston College in Massachusetts where she finished A.B. Political Science.  After a two-year stint as chairperson of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board as an appointee of President Noynoy Aquino, she ran and topped the senatorial elections of 2013, and now, after a little more than two years as senator of the realm, seeks to be President of the Republic;

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte y Roa, was born in Maasin of the then-undivided Leyte, his father being lawyer Vicente Duterte of Danao in the 5th district of Cebu, his mother a public school teacher, Soledad Roa, of Cabadbaran in the then-undivided Agusan province.  The Dutertes moved from Cebu to Leyte and thence to Davao City, capital of the then-undivided province of Davao.  After a legal practice followed by public service in the provincial capitol, while his wife remained a public school teacher, Vicente was elected governor of  Davao, which was later gerrymandered into Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur and Davao Oriental, and lately further divided with the addition of Compostela Valley.  Rodrigo’s early education was in various schools in Davao City, later at the Lyceum in Intramuros, Manila, where he finished A.B. Political Science, after which he finished law at San Beda College.  He practiced law in his city, after which he was appointed fiscal and rose to Assistant City Prosecutor, before being appointed by President Cory Aquino OIC vice mayor after the fall of Marcos in 1986.  In 1988, he became mayor of the largest city in land area in the country, in fact, one of the top three largest cities in the world.  He tamed what was once the “wild, wild South” of the country, infested with crime and various rebel groups, into what is now ranked the 5th Safest City in the World, in the same exclusive company as Singapore, Osaka, Munich, among others.  Davao’s progress since Duterte took over has been phenomenal, and its unemployment rate of a little over 4 percent is lower than the country’s 7 percent.

So there you are.  The list of four may be surprisingly increased in the next nine days if Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago suddenly takes another leap and declares her candidacy.  Former president and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada told this writer that he will seek reelection as city mayor.  The latest news from Senator Ping Lacson is that he will return to his Senate seat, where the surveys rank him either at the top or safely in second spot.

What is rather weird about the present political circus is that there will be more vice-presidential than presidential candidates.

Senator  Grace Poe Llamanzares will have Senator  Francis Escudero as her “official” teammate, but running as independents.  She has an “un-official” VP candidate as well, Senator Antonio Trillanes, whose formal declaration last Saturday was even attended by her son, Brian Llamanzares.

Secretary Mar Roxas finally got the nod of Rep. Maria Leonor Gerona vda. de Robredo.  This space predicted in a previous column that it would be a Mar-Leni ticket, after Grace Poe became intransigent to the Liberal entreaties.  The yellows want to call it a “Ro-Ro” ticket, forgetting that the roll-on, roll-off naval highway project was started by PNoy’s nemesis, the suffering Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

VP Jojo will have Senator Gregorio Honasan, thus giving rise to what media wags have called a “Bi-Hon” ticket.  But the new pair prefers to be called the Bin-Go tandem, as the senator’s nickname is Gringo.

As for Duterte, there are two senators who have declared their vice-presidential candidacies along with open declarations of support for the reluctant mayor, namely Senator Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig-Pateros and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. of Ilocos Norte and Tacloban.  Whom Duterte will choose between the two should come after he formally declares that he will run for president to begin with.  As predicted in this space several columns ago, Duterte’s candidacy will be a cliffhanger.

Four presidential candidates and six vice presidential candidates.  Are there any more, before the political circus begins?

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