Presidentiables

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    ‘And finally, there’s Ramon Ang, the president and CEO of San Miguel Corporation, whose inclusion may have come as a surprise to many. Will he be the Thaksin of Philippine politics that many thought Manny Villar was going to become…’

    THE 2022 presidential elections are still about 16 months away, but this early BizNewsAsia of veteran journalist Tony Lopez has people talking. That’s because Lopez put nine faces on the cover of his latest issue under the headline The Next President, and in a country as addicted to politics as to K Dramas, that cover was sure to elicit comments. And it did.

    Actually there were TEN, not nine, faces on the BizNewsAsia cover. But the tenth was that of Congressman Joey Salceda who seemed to be looking down on the nine, as if presenting (or better yet) assessing them himself. But Cong Joey’s prominent photo led a friend (also a keen political observer) to remark “Who knows? It might be Cong Joey!”

    As journalist Vergel Santos has been saying often, of late our presidents have been “accidental” ones. So yes, maybe Salceda?

    Eight of the nine on the list could be tagged “the usual suspects.” Representing the Duterte camp, there was Davao City Mayor Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio, who can easily bring together the Duterte forces that catapulted her father to Malacanang in 2016. She has name recall.

    She is photo and telegenic. And she has a track record to stand on.

    But Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go was also on the list, and he can be the Duterte candidate in lieu of Sara. I say “in lieu of” because Mayor Sara has that advantage of carrying the name, which SenSAP (as I like to refer to him) does not. One thing for sure: they can’t run against each other. But while Sara may have the name advantage I suspect SenSAP’s backers have been laying the foundations of a run for some time now.

    Two more on the list are Senators Ping Lacson and Grace Poe. For both of them a run in 2022 would be their second around the block, which may tempt them as well as be enough reason to stay away. Like Mayor Sara, both have name recall and a track record. But unlike Mayor Sara they will need financial resources.

    Of course, there’s VP Leni, a natural on the list. This early I would say it’s an uphill climb for her given the meager resources her office has. Then again Barack Obama showed the way in tapping social media to generate support – both warm bodies and small donations – from the public. And the VP can learn from that.

    Where there’s Leni there’s BBM or BongBong Marcos, who came a hairline close to the vice presidency in 2016. Name recall? Check. Track record? Check. Political baggage? Maybe, but debatable if you ask me.

    Then we go to the monied names. There’s Emmanuel Pacquiao and there’s Cynthia Villar.

    While Pacquiao cannot outspend Villar, I dare say that Pacquiao’s face is far more known and welcome in more houses in the Philippines than anyone else’s but God’s. With his secret weapon at his side (Mommy D, of course) he can charm his way to a landslide. But will he?

    And finally, there’s Ramon Ang, the president and CEO of San Miguel Corporation, whose inclusion may have come as a surprise to many. Will he be the Thaksin of Philippine politics that many thought Manny Villar was going to become – a popular and populist businessman-turned-politician? Who knows?

    If you bug RSA about running he will tell you two things: 1) he prefers to do good as a private citizen, and 2) he will support whoever PRRD will bless. But what if PRRD blesses him?

    Of course, if RSA does decide to throw his hat into the ring I think the nine names would quickly become five or even just four. (Sometimes though I wish we were like America where it is only almost always down to two).

    Who would you choose among the names on the list to become the next “accidental” President?

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