Analysis by Raïssa Robles
There are now reports of a possible team up of Vice President Jejomar Binay with Governor-actress Vilma Santos in 2016. Or Binay with a prominent businessman as his running mate.
This is probably the start of a season where we will see various strange combinations floated about.
In this context, let me let me throw in a possible combination: that Aquino could run for vice president. And I don’t mean Kris, as some are suggesting.
But first, let me explain why I’m doing this. When I was in Tokyo recently, a senior editor of a Japanese newspaper told me the Philippines was about to enter “a period of instability” because in 2016, President Benigno Aquino III would be stepping down from office and be replaced by who knows what.
Earlier, I was told the same concern by a prominent American businessman in Manila who spoke to me on condition of anonymity. The businessman wondered who would replace Aquino who, he noted, could not run again.
Hmm. It seems both men believe that Aquino lends political stability to the system.
To both the businessman and the Japanese editor my reply was the same: Of course he can run again.
PNoy (as he is popularly called) can run for Vice-President, I said.
My reply was met with skepticism. And so I had to explain how this would effectively change the current political landscape that had only Vice-President Jejomar Binay and Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas as the main presidential contenders.
Before I go on, I would like to stress that I am neither endorsing nor advocating PNoy’s running again. I am simply analyzing and pointing out the possibilities as a political commentator.
Let’s look at two important aspects of the idea:
- First, the constitutionality of such a move.
- Second, the implications of such a move on Philippine politics.
Politics is like entertainment in that it shares some characteristics with the world of movies and entertainment. Political strategists play around with combinations and see what team-ups could produce a box office hit, in this case, electoral victories.
President Aquino is barred by the Philippine Constitution only from running for President, but not from running for Vice-President or any other political office. Given his name recall nationwide and his track record, he is probably a shoe-in if he runs for vice-president.
But why would his party even consider fielding him for the vice-presidency — a spare tire position? They might consider any or all of the following points.
First, it is very likely that VP Binay will run for President in 2016. And Binay could win. If VP Binay and PNoy win – in this case, we would have a Bi-Noy scenario instead of the current Noy-Bi one – then VP Binay’s behavior might be affected by his knowledge of who his stand-by successor is.
Second, PNoy could campaign for vice-president by telling voters – ‘look, vote for the presidential candidate I endorse and for me because I’m his seal of good housekeeping. I am not going to meddle or anything. I will just be there to make sure he walks the straight and narrow.’
Presuming Aquino endorses Mar Roxas, will that be enough to make Mar Roxas win? Frankly, I don’t know at this point because there are other issues swirling around Roxas which he has not addressed.
Will PNoy look at 2016 the way President Fidel Ramos looked at 1998? If you recall, Ramos fielded House Speaker Jose de Venecia out of a sense of loyalty, gratitude and friendship even though many voters clearly did not like De Venecia.
Third, what if PNoy and the Liberal Party were to pick someone other than Roxas? That would make things truly interesting.
Then there is this one other scenario to consider, remote but possible: PNoy teams up with someone who will promise to step down so PNoy can continue being President.
Are these far-fetched? Not in our world of politics where a president is ousted, then convicted, then pardoned, then allowed to run again, then defeated, then runs for mayor and wins.
The last two years of a president’s term are usually called the lame duck years. But just a hint – or threat – of running for the VP post could erase that perception for PNoy.
So when people tell me they are afraid of what would happen in 2016, my reply is – you have to be open to the possibilities. What will happen will simply surprise you.