By BENJIE OLIVEROS
MANILA — The race for the presidency is slowly taking shape. With the formal announcement of Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of his intention to run for president, the configuration is almost complete. Most probably, the presidential elections would be a six-corner fight.
For the Nacionalista Party, it would be Senator Manny Villar. Former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada is determined to seek the presidency once more under his Partido ng Masang Pilipino, despite the shaky legal basis he is standing on. Brother Eddie Villanueva has already announced that he would seek the presidency once again. For the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the choice has already been narrowed down to either Senator Loren Legarda or Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero.
Only the administration party, the Lakas-Kampi, is having a difficult time choosing its candidate, especially since it is being hotly contested by MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando, Senator Richard Gordon and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro. But the only probable candidate of the administration that is doing good in surveys is Vice-President Noli de Castro who is still coy about his plans. However, whoever the administration candidate would be, he would have to carry the weight of the Arroyo government’s unpopularity.
The opposition knows that the chance of winning of the administration candidate is slim because the Filipino people would be so happy to rid itself of the Arroyo government. This is why so many candidates are jockeying to be the opposition candidate, and nobody wants to give in. Only Roxas gave in but he did it to spare himself from the burden of having to fight for the presidency in two grueling contests: the Liberal Party nomination and the presidential elections. He could wait for six years while securing a high profile position in government, if Aquino wins.
However, if Mike Velarde of El Shaddai joins the fray and either Gordon or Fernando or both decide to run as independent candidate/s if any or both fail to secure the administration nomination, the elections would be a nine-corner fight, much more complicated than the 1992 presidential elections, which was contested by seven candidates. It would be remembered that Fidel V. Ramos won the 1992 elections with a very slim margin and with a mere 23 percent of the votes.
With so many to choose from, how could we measure the candidates?
If we really want genuine change, the people could measure the candidates by their position on issues.
* What is his position regarding the continuous presence and operations of US troops in the country? Would he allow the US to continue violating our sovereignty and use our country as launching pad for its wars of aggression and in asserting its military hegemony or will he assert the country’s independence from foreign intervention and freedom from the presence of foreign troops and bases?
* What is his proposed foreign policy? Would he continue with the foreign policy of the Arroyo government, which included honoring and entering into unequal treaties favorable to foreign interests and detrimental to the country or would he review and renegotiate unequal treaties with countries such as the US and pursue an independent foreign policy?
On Good Governance
* Would he shield the outgoing Arroyo administration from the numerous suits it would face or would he pursue the numerous corruption cases involving the Arroyo family and their allies?
* How does he plan to solve the corruption plaguing the government?
* Would he allow the circus that we call elections to persist or would he pursue genuine electoral reforms that would eliminate the practice of fraud, and the domination of guns, goons, and gold?
On Human Rights
* Would he conceal information regarding the Arroyo government’s crimes against the people or would he pursue justice for the victims of human rights violations?