MANILA, NOVEMBER 27, 2003  (STAR) FROM THE STANDS By Domini M. Torrevillas - Second-guessing as to who will run as pre-sidential and vice presidential candidates of the opposition while PGMA is sitting pretty running the government and taking her time in choosing her running mate is the popular game of the day. It‘s an exciting exercise.

During the past 72 hours major political developments have emerged, and if these are true, then President Macapagal-Arroyo has enough support from the congressional sector for her to win the elections.

First, the Liberal Party, the third largest political party which has 23 congressmen as members, will declare support for GMA next week. This development will not be welcomed by Raul Roco, who has been aspiring to be the LP standard bearer.

Here are the developments within the ranks of the LP:

The executive vice president, Mayor Lito Atienza, has accepted to become the general manager of the GMA re-election campaign in Metro Manila.

The secretary general, Congressman Rodolfo Bacani, has declared he is for GMA.

The EVP for Visayas, Congressman Antonio Eduardo Nachura, who is chair of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments, has declared all-out support for GMA. He said that 22 out of 23 LP congressmen have already decided for GMA in 20 provinces.

The VP for Metro Manila, Housing Czar Mike Defensor, has declared for GMA. Metro Manila is where the LP is strongest.

Trade Secretary Mar Roxas, whose family founded the Liberal Party, has declared support for GMA in Panay: this covers Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo. Mar has accepted the invitation to be in the Lakas-Liberal Party-Nationalist People’s Coalition senatorial ticket.

Then there are other developments that bolster the candidacy of GMA and likely to dampen the exuberant feelings of Fernando Poe Jr. The Nationalist People’s Coalition, the second largest political party, which has 57 congressmen and 20 governors, will declare overwhelming support for GMA on December 5. Already, 12 NPC congressmen have declared support for GMA. These are Ed Veloso of Leyte, Nonoy Libanan of Eastern Samar; Tikbong Badilles, Lanao del Norte; and Roseller Barinaga of Zamboanga del Norte; Jesnar Falcon of Surigao del Sur; Douglas Cagas of Davao del Sur, Tomas Dumpit, La Union; Fred Maranon, Negros Occidental; Gener Tulagan of Central Pangasinan, Conrado Estrella III of Eastern Pangasinan, Spine Espino of Western Pangasinan, and Gerry Espina of Biliran.

These developments clearly show the beginning of an exodus to the support of GMA. They prove that GMA’s and House Speaker Joe de Venecia’s program of reconciliation and reform is working. It must be recalled that the congressmen mentioned above were the ones working for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Hilario Davide Jr.

On another front, GMA is wedged between a rock and a hard place. Who will she take in as running mate – Senator Roberto Barbers or TV personality Noli de Castro? Both have definite drawing powers. Barbers has the overwhelming support of Lakas congressmen and mayors from the Visayas and Mindanao, especially those who want to preserve the North-South balance. On the other hand, GMA cannot disregard the nationwide popularity of Noli, who enjoys the backing of ABS-CBN which in itself is apolitical party. GMA has to make her decision between December 14 and 21. * * *


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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