POSTSCRIPT / April 20, 2004 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Oops... Susan boxes bet, Mike campaigns in Cebu!

ENTERS THE MACHINE: The surveys say that the number of undecided voters has been going down. By this time, it seems that many of us either have made up our minds or are already suffering from propaganda fatigue.

From this point on until Election Day, dalawampung tulog na lang (20 nights away), it will be mostly mopping up and consolidation for the national candidates. This is where the party machine comes in big.

The candidates for national office who do not have a well-oiled machine will just have to step aside as the big operators drive past.

* * *

CALL TO SURE LOSERS: The sure losers already know by this time the futility of it all, but will not betray their worst fears.

Pragmatists and those who have had their share of defeats in the past may be able to live with losing this election, especially if they still have excess campaign funds, but they may not always know how to handle losing face.

No less than chairman Benjamin Abalos of the Commission on Elections predicts that either President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or actor Fernando Poe Jr. will win by only a million votes.

With that disturbing prospect, we reiterate the suggestion made in our last Postscript: That the sure losers withdraw, not necessarily in favor of any candidate, but out of love of country.

Rationale: If the winner on May 10 makes it by a mere Plurality (simply gaining more votes than the second-placer) and not by a Majority (more than half of the total votes cast), the president-elect will not be able to stabilize the situation.

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PATRIOTIC WITHDRAWAL: In such a shaky situation, with the losers expected to continue hounding and destabilizing the winner-by-plurality, the nation would be the big loser.

Such would not be the case if the winner scored a clean majority and thus got a clear mandate.

But a majority win could be assured only if the sure losers withdrew and left the field to the two strongest candidates. This would also solve the problem of sure losers worried about losing face and explaiing to the members of their national slate.

Invoking national interest, the candidates who thus give way — in favor of the country — would help make possible the election of a majority president. The candidate who withdraws for that reason need not lose face.

If at that point, he still has millions in his campaign chest, he can keep them for, huh, comfort.

A graceful exit, properly presented, could even be perceived as a patriotic act. It would leave the loser morally intact to participate in the next political campaign.

* * *

ROCO’S PERFECT ALIBI: Presidential candidate Raul Roco of Alyansa ng Pag-Asa, who is in the US undergoing diagnosis/treatment for cancer, is lucky. He has an airtight story when he will have to admit he has failed in his bid.

Even in his case, he can abandon his fight-to-the-finish attitude and take the noble path of withdrawing in favor of a more stable post-May 10 Philippines.

We are sure his vice presidential and senatorial teammates, as well as his followers, will understand. They should not press the ailing Roco too hard since not everybody could be president at a given point in history.

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MEET MARITESS: Take a break from the bruising and suffocating campaign. Visit http://www.fractalcow.com/rex/ and turn on the sound so even the neighbors would hear it.

You will meet Maritess, a TNT (tago ng tago) from Zamboanga talking (in English!) from her impressive address somewhere in the US of A of how she got there, what she does, for whom, atbp.

The short feature on our dakilang DH was written and performed (!) by Rex Navarrete, animated and adapted by Dino Ignacio, and scored by Elson Trinidad.

Navarrete grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. His family migrated to America when he was just 2. Ignacio, 27, is an artist-animator who took up fine arts at the University of the Philippines. Trinidad, 30, is a native and resident of Los Angeles who has spent more than half of his life immersed in creative music.

* * *

ANO BA YAN?: We have noted some disturbing, a bit amusing, items on the political front reported in media:

  1. Long banished from sight, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo surfaced again on the campaign trail in Cebu to contribute his bit to the bid of the wife for her own full term. Oops, kerpul kayo riyan….Poor Gloria might start sliding again in the charts!
  2. First Lady-in-Waiting Susan Roces, the better-half of Ronnie Poe, elbowed her way into the news days ago when he socked vice-mayoral candidate Allan Celino in Roxas City when he jostled too close to her.
  3. In Pansanjan, media-allergic Poe again did not show up for a scheduled media conference. It was not clear if he backed out because he was alerted that the press, including some foreign TV teams, would also ask about Susan’s throwing some choice punches.

* * *

NOT UNEXPECTED: In a radio interview, meanwhile, Rep. Carlos Padilla (LDP, Nueva Vizcaya) said that the camp of opposition presidential candidate Panfilo Lacson knew the plan of Roco to seek medical attention abroad a week before he flew to the US.

“One week before Roco declared he was going for treatment, the two groups (Roco and Lacson camps) met,” Padilla said. “I attended one briefing last Holy Wednesday, four to five days before Roco made his announcement. We knew about his coming declaration to go abroad.”

He said Lacson was still open for a possible unification with the Roco camp even as similar moves were being pursued with the opposition coalition led by Poe.

Another Poe-Lacson unification meeting was set yesterday — birthday of their common friend Joseph “Erap” Estrada — at the former president’s detention quarters in Tanay, Rizal.

* * *

CONFLICTING SKEDS: But the campaign headquarters of Lacson said yesterday that the projected meeting with Poe did not happen because of conflicts in the schedule of the two candidates.

To be able to attend the meeting, Lacson had cancelled his sorties yesterday afternoon in Malabon and Navotas. The other night, however, Poe called Lacson to tell him that he would be available only in the morning because of engagements in the afternoon.

On the other hand, Lacson told Poe he had meetings yesterday morning although he was available from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

As we write this late yesterday, there were still efforts to reconcile their schedules for an evening meeting, with Erap brokering the talks.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 20, 2004)

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