People to watch out for in the 2016 elections
MANILA -- Who among government officials are possible contenders for the presidency in the May 2016 elections?
At least nine elected officials and one Cabinet secretary have what it takes to become the next Chief Executive who will succeed President Benigno Aquino, according to veteran political analyst Antonio Gatmaitan.
In a recent forum organized by the Center for Philippine Futuristics Studies and Management Inc., Gatmaitan named the possible contenders for the country's top post, regardless of whether they have expressed intentions to run in the 2016 presidential elections.
- Vice President Jejomar Binay
- Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II
- Senate President Franklin Drilon
- Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr.
- Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
- Senator Loren Legarda
- Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero
- Senator Grace Poe
- House Speaker Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte
- Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada
Gatmaitan, executive director of Political Economic Applied Research (PEAR) Foundation, said Roxas should not be ruled out despite losing to Binay in a close race for the vice-presidency in 2010. Roxas has a pending electoral protest.
"His surprise defeat to Binay in the race to vice-president [in 2010] did not take the wind out of his sails," said Gatmaitan.
Roxas' dream to become the country's chief executive remains "undiminished," making him a highly possible candidate of the administration Liberal Party (LP), he added.
Roxas sought the presidency in 2010 but opted to be the runningmate of Aquino following the death of Cory Aquino in August 2009, just months before the 2010 election season.
Franklin Drilon, Sonny Belmonte
Other possible contenders of the LP are Drilon and Belmonte.
Gatmaitan took note of power and influence of their offices, with Drilon being the Senate President and Belmonte being the Speaker of the House.
Vice-President Binay, also the chairman of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), has been vocal about his plan to run for President since 2011.
Gatmaitan said with Binay's "populist image," he will likely be a frontrunner in the 2016 presidential elections.
He also noted that the Vice-President's trust ratings have been "sky-high thus far."
He said the only problem he sees with Binay come May 2016 is that he will be 73 years old by then, perhaps a little bit old for the post.
Revilla of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), Gatmaitan said, possesses certain qualities which make him a good candidate: he's charming, handsome and young.
Aside from these, he also has strong support from the CALABARZON or Southern Tagalog region, which has a population of over 12 million.
"In Philippine politics, size translates to clout," Gatmaitan said.
It's been reported that Revilla was being groomed by the Lakas-CMD as its standard bearer in 2016, but the senator has said he has yet to decide on running in 2016.
He also faces plunder charges in connection with the pork barrel scam.
Marcos, the only son of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos, is the "most anticipated [candidate] of our time," Gatmaitan said.
The Marcoses have been raring to stage a major comeback in politics, he said.
Former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos herself has been vocal about her dream for his son to become the country's president, just like his father.
Gatmaitan noted that Marcos placed 7th in the 2010 senatorial race, the same spot as President Aquino when he ran for senator in the 2007 mid-term elections.
However, he also believes that Marcos "still has a long way to go to be truly competitive."
Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero
As for Legarda and Escudero, Gatmaitan cited the two senators' consistency in being among the most popular candidates when running in national elections.
This makes them competitive for the 2016 presidential polls, he added.
Legarda is with the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC). Escudero was also formerly with the NPC, but resigned and ran as independent last May.
Both Legarda and Escudero ran under the LP-led administration coalition Team PNoy.
With his "unique political odyssey," Estrada is so far the "most colorful figure" in the history of Philippine politics, according to Gatmaitan.
Estrada, who was ousted as president in January 2001, ran again for the presidency in 2010. He came in second behind Aquino, which only proves that he is still among the most popular politicians, despite his conviction for plunder in 2007.
Estrada once again returned to power last May, but this time as mayor of the city of Manila, which he has described as his "last hurrah."
Poe, the unexpected topnotcher in the 2013 senatorial race, may be the "new Cory [Aquino] of her time," Gatmaitan said.
He noted that it is particularly easy to rally support for Poe, describing her as simple, articulate and charismatic, "a surprise package for 2016."
"She started off slow but finished strong with support coming all over the country...In the end, many felt good just by voting for this simple woman," Gatmaitan said of Poe.