POSTSCRIPT / April 1, 2007 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Lakas, Kampi dominate provinces. Where's GO?

TIME OUT: Worried members of the Genuine Opposition are praying that the Lenten break might just be a “pause that refreshes” for their coalition that is reportedly wracked by intramurals at the top.

They better pray hard because with Election Day just 44 days away, some GO leaders are still bogged down in petty quarrels while neglecting to put up candidates in some 70 percent of the 1,500 towns, 115 cities, 79 provinces and more than 200 congressional districts up for grabs.

When a major party/coalition has no local candidates, no local machinery, no local funding, who will campaign for the national (senatorial in this case) candidates and guard their votes?

In contrast, the administration Team Unity already has the countryside divided into campaign areas that the sortie teams have been sweeping in systematic fashion.

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LAKAS/KAMPI: The opposition is non-existent in many places. In 43 provinces, 110 congressional districts and 63 cities, the fight is actually between Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) and the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi), the two major components of Team Unity.

The seeming split may even help the senatorial team. Where there are Lakas and Kampi opposing candidates, both camps usually support the administration ticket.

Lakas, btw, will hold its national convention tomorrow with over 2,000 national and local elected leaders in attendance at the Folk Arts Theater. President Gloria Arroyo, party chair, will preside over the convention.

The 15-year old Lakas-CMD was founded in 1992 by then presidential aspirant Fidel V. Ramos, Rep. Jose de Venecia Jr., then Foreign Secretary Raul Manglapus and former Cebu Gov. Lito Osmeña and his cousin Sen. Sergio Osmeña III, among other prominent figures.

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FAKE SURVEYS: The table surveys (called “table” because they just involve pencil pushing without the claimed live interviews) periodically trotted out by survey business firms may not reflect the true electoral situation.

The usual 3 percent plus/minus “margin of error” would jump to double-digit if the backward computation used to flesh out the desired survey “results” continues to disregard the organizational and logistical reality on the ground.

The problem is that the false figures foisted on the unsuspecting public may so condition the mind that if the election results do not tally with the supposed surveys, the hapless winners will be suspected unfairly of having cheated.

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ERAP HURTING: Word from the direction of the Tanay hills has it that former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada, the GO godfather and, it is said, paymaster, is hurting.

The new leadership under Serge Osmeña III, who took over from Erap’s son JV the mayor of San Juan, has started purging some Erap and Poe elements in the GO campaign hierarchy, starting with Linggoy Alcuaz.

Pressed to resuscitate the gasping GO campaign, Osmeña got rid of what he probably thought were albatrosses around the coalition’s neck. In the process, he has marginalized Estrada’s two sons — JV and Jinggoy the senator.

Osmeña has also alienated many opposition Old Guards, principally former Sen. Ernie Maceda who resents being driven out of business.

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NASAAN SILA?: Last Tuesday in San Juan, not one of the GO senatorial bets was there to cheer the former president when he received an “outstanding citizen” award from the city government. His sons JV and Jinggoy were there, but there was no Ping or Sonia or John Henry.

Word got around that they were under instructions from Osmeña to snub the event. Why, is identification with Erap now fraught with political risks?

Estrada and Poe loyalists, including street fighters in the mold of Linggoy and Rez Cortez, are reportedly grumbling.

Survey topnotcher Loren Legarda was not at the San Juan rites either. But she explained later she had planned to meet Erap but that nobody could tell for sure when he would be given a pass by the Sandiganbayan.

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SOLO FLIGHT: With Estrada loyalists out of the GO campaign staff, what would happen to the Erap voting base which in the first place is the strength of the GO? They could withdraw support in disgust just like Erap’s reportedly withholding funding support to GO candidates.

Osmeña’s takeover was calculated to reinvigorate the campaign, but it seems the opposite is happening.

With the Old Guards and Erap and Poe loyalists resenting the ways of Osmeña, many GO candidates have reportedly decided to sally into the campaign trail alone rather than wait for the GO leadership to agree on what is best for them.

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ROSY REPORTS: I met senatorial candidate Ed Angara two nights ago. He had just come from provincial sorties and could not hide his excitement over the happy picture in the areas that TU has covered.

Samples: A Bohol survey after their sortie showed, he said, seven winning TU senators led by favorite son Cesar Montano. A Pangasinan survey showed eight TU candidates winning.

Angara was all praise for the local network, underscoring the importance of machinery and planning. One big boost, he said, are the potent leagues of provincial governors, of city mayors, of councilors, and of the vice governors.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 1, 2007)

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