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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

On the political horizon: ‘Rainbow Coalition’ of anti-Aquino forces

OSCAR SANEZ may be truly an apolitical man. But whether he was aware of it or not, his statements that declared that Mrs. Arroyo was the main architect and promoter of the BPO sector’s unprecedented growth, contrary to Mr. Aquino’s claim to ownership of that niche, were deeply political.
A few days after that declaration, and probably emboldened by Sanez’s statements, the former finance chief of Mrs. Arroyo, gave his own accounting of the Arroyo administration. Gary Teves, the former banker and congressman, said that the one other claim of the Aquino administration, that the ten years of the Arroyo administration were the equivalent of a “Lost Decade” was patently false.
(Background info. When contemporary economists refer to a “Lost Decade” they mostly mean the decade of secular stagnation that plagued the underperforming Japanese economy for years. It is not about a decade lost to official corruption.)
In fact, Teves said, it was the Arroyo administration that “ initiated several positive reforms that are benefiting the Philippine economy until today.” The credit upgrade from Fitch in March 2013 acknowledged that the upgrade’s foundations were laid by the reforms undertaken by the Arroyo government.
Teves’s declaration will have no bearing on the plunder cases filed against Mrs. Arroyo. But on the political front, it will have the effect of “firing up the base” or injecting life into the political groups, dormant for now, that are still bound by their support for the embattled former president. There is a substantial section of Philippine politics, all waiting to be fired up and motivated, still supportive of the former president. That the Lakas-NUCD-CMD did not die like the KBL is proof of that.
At some point, not now but later, Mr. Binay, the putative frontrunner in the 2016 presidential race, will have to make an important political decision. This is on what to do with the Arroyo supporters, still a potent political force despite being in a virtual orphanage over the past four years. Politics, the pragmatic Mr. Binay knows, is about addition, not about ideas or lofty principles. Nelson Rockefeller (now the topic of an adoring bio just off the press), and Adlai Stevenson, got nowhere with their high idealism. Their failed presidential dreams are lessons Mr. Binay is probably aware of.
(Poor Adlai. As his dreams to lead the US and the so-called Free World came to an end, dashed by the swaggering upstart Jack Kennedy, only Eleanor Roosevelt came to mourn his tragedy.)
Everything in the political front is moving into this specific direction: disparate political forces with varying reasons for opposing the Aquino administration – but with their common desire to end the government of the Liberal Party converging — will have to coalesce under Mr. Binay and his United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
The logical leader will be Mr. Binay despite his professed loyalty to the Aquino family and his personal friendship with the President.
The UNA, a loose coalition which has turned into a mainstream political party, will be immensely beefed up by a possible coalition with the Lakas-NUCD-CMD. The combined strength of the two will be further shored up by political groups and personalities cast adrift by the Aquino administration and alienated by the LP.
The convergence of the common desire to end the LP-led coalition will inevitably lead to the formation of Joe de Venecia’s fervent dream – the formation of a potent and winnable Rainbow Coalition.
Right now, a significant slice of the NPC, has cast its lot with the Binay group. Tito Sotto, who leads the polls on the senatorial preferences of voters, is the leader of this bloc. Sotto is not only a vote-getter. He is the patriarch of a showbiz clan with massive grassroots following. There are two or three incumbent senators who will join Sotto as he migrates his NPC bloc into the Binay camp
The political groups loyal to the three detained senators have no other choice but join the anti-Aquino coalition. The time-tested principle that undergirds this preference is this: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Bong Revilla has his presidential dreams lying in tatters. Where can he go? Erap Estrada, the leader of the Estrada clan, wants to give the presidency another try. But Erap is a firm believer in the surveys and his low standing in the polls will force him to just join the Binay camp.
Even if Mr. Binay does not get Jinggoy as his running mate in 2016, the Estradas do not have too many options left. They have to stick it out with Mr. Binay.
So many in the LP are right now chafing under the lack of democratic consultations within the party. Especially the recent recruits, those who joined the party after Mr. Aquino’s victory in 2010. They are ready to jump ship and are just waiting for the proper time to do so.
The LP is not really the thriving ground for political give-and-take. But the fact that it has no formidable presidential contender in 2016 is the most compelling incentive for party deserters to take their leave and just go. No one likes to cast his or her lot with a loser.
They will go straight into the waiting arms of the Rainbow Coalition. Then help start the process of ending the LP-led government.

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