MANILA, OCTOBER 24, 2003  (MALAYA) MANY are waiting for word from FPJ if he will run in 2004. If he says he will, it will be a busy time for both the Admnistration and the opposition. The former will now have to do a thorough research on the character of FPJ and identify his weaknesses that need to be exploited during the campaign, while the latter will have to make sure that only one opposition standard bearer emerges to do battle with GMA and Raul Roco.

On the other hand, should the answer be negative, then there will be much more work for the opposition than for the administration. The former will again have to try to see whether they can come up with a unifying and winnable candidate, one who should be as immune to "dagdag bawas" as is humanly possible; while the latter will simply have to continue "mop up" operations of political leaders from north to south who naturally wish to be on the winning bandwagon or, failing that, to be on the monied bandwagon. And if the GMA campaign is not yet sure of being the former, it sure is more of the latter in comparison to, say, the Roco team.

Siempre naman. You have the chance to use government resources to go to the provinces on a "non-campaign" sortie. You can give titles to the poor, open school buildings, inaugurate shelters, cut the ribbon for roads and bridges, and yet be on a "non-campaign" mode. You can even hold events within the confines of the presidential palace, and have your guests savor the pomp and pageantry that is the presidency itself. Now tell me, how can you beat that?

Oh well, assuming FPJ says yes, then at least his team will bring to the campaign the pomp and pageantry of the movie industry. And if one will rate campaigns on the basis of drawing rights. drawing crowds to the rallies, crowds, by the way, who do not have to be paid or bused by local political leaders, then who can beat a campaign that has FPJ at the helm and Susan Roces by his side? Speaking of Susan, she would return to the candidate's spouse the "secret weapon" tag that candidates' spouses used to carry until we had spouses of candidates whom we knew were simply the "number 1's."

Mike Arroyo, of course, is the "only one", but Mike Arroyo can no longer be a "secret weapon" to the GMA campaign in the manner of which we speak. In other ways, perhaps, but not in the way of his becoming an extra draw for crowds and for votes. Which is why it would not surprise me if someone else from within the family will appear more often beside the President. That might work, for a while, but sooner or later people will notice that the FG has made himself scarce and when people start talking about it, even this stop-gap measure will fail.

Going back to Susan Roces, we are told that she is opposed to the idea of an FPJ run for the presidency but if her husband does decide to run, what could she do? Come to think of it, wouldn't that even be more of a come-on, the fact that a reluctant spouse has made a sacrifice just to do her duty beside her husband?

If, on the one hand, GMA would insist that her running is a sacrifice, and on the other hand Susan Roces insists that her campaigning for her husband is a sacrifice on her part, who do you think would the masses of this country believe?


FPJ aside, what many people are missing as they get fixated on who the opposition bet will be is the emergence of a new bloc of senators along the lines of the much-maligned "Erap 11".

Remember them? These were the 11 senators who voted against the opening of the so-called "second envelope" during the impeachment trial of Joseph Estrada in the Senate in 2001.

Now, we have the "Pidal 10". These are the ten senators, led by Blue Ribbon committee chair Joker Arroyo, who have voted to uphold Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo's "right to privacy" claim before the Senate investigation on the Jose Pidal accounts. By this decision, the 10 senators are saying that Iggy Arroyo cannot be forced to tell more about the accounts; neither can he be forced to sign the name "Jose Pidal" in front of the committee members.

Never mind that the signatures Iggy had submitted to GMA-7, which the network in turn submitted to the Senate, clearly show that they are not done by the same hand that signed the checks that Panfilo Lacson showed during his exposť.

And who are these ten?

According to Arroyo, they are himself, plus Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Ralph Recto, Manuel Villar Jr., Francis Pangilinan, Robert Jaworksi, Robert Barbers, Noli de Castro, Juan Flavier and Ramon Revilla.

Of the ten, it is Jaworksi and Revilla who have "perfect" records: they were part of the "Erap 11" and are now part of the "Pidal 10". Flavier, on the other hand, is said to have also agreed with a resolution proposed by opposition Senator Edgardo Angara saying that the right to privacy exists but is not absolute, and does not cover Iggy on this score.

Remember these ten, just as you remembered the eleven.

And it is your choice to hail them or mark them.

Email address: jbaylon@apac.ko.com

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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