POSTSCRIPT / June 2, 2009 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Noli still #1; Mar jumps to #5, Loren drops to #6

LEAD PACK: It is too early to credit the Korina Sanchez factor, but her prospective bridegroom Mar Roxas has just vaulted five percentage points from way behind to join the lead pack in the May 2010 presidential race.

The latest Pulse Asia nationwide survey conducted May 4-17 now has the frontrunners bunched this wise: Noli de Castro, 18 percent (compared with 19 percent last Feb. 2); Chiz Escudero, 17 (17); Erap Estrada, 15 (16); Manny Villar, 14 (15); and Roxas, 13 (only 8 percent last Feb. 2).

Only Escudero, who will be old enough (40) this October to run for president, maintained his standing among the top five favorites of the 1,200 respondents of voting age interviewed face-to-face in Metro Manila and the rest of the country.

Loren Legarda, who with Escudero is vying for the presidential nomination of the Nationalist People’s Coalition of businessman Danding Cojuango, dropped a hefty 5 percentage points from 12 percent in February to just 7 percent last May. She is now No. 6 in the ranking.

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THE REST: With a survey margin of error of +/- 3 percent at 95 percent confidence level, De Castro, Escudero and Estrada are actually tied at the top.

Except for De Castro, all the eight topnotchers are from the opposition (although the definition of “opposition” keeps changing with the fickle political weather).

Vice President De Castro has maintained his banner position without visibly trying. Since the surveys started way back, no rival or issue has been able to pull him down from his perch.

Trailing sixth-placer Legarda are: Jojo Binay, 4 percent; Ping Lacson, 4; Dick Gordon, 1; Manny Pangilinan (who is not a candidate), 1; Reynato Puno (also a non-candidate), 1; and Gilbert Teodoro, 1.

Other presidential aspirants who got less than one percent were: Mike Velarde (.4 percent), Bayani Fernando (.3), Eddie Villanueva (.3) and “Among Ed” Panlilio (.2).

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ANOINTED ONE: The probable administration nominees at the moment are De Castro and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro. The defense boss ties with “moral force” advocate Chief Justice Reynato Puno for the 11th and 12th berths.

President Gloria Arroyo has not indicated who her Anointed One would be. But between De Castro and Teodoro, the latter looks “safer” to extract a commitment from that he (as president) would treat the Arroyos kindly when they are out of the Palace.

Although too low in the ranking to pose a threat to De Castro, Teodoro may just be able to pull the right levers to clinch the nomination.

He said, btw, that he would not run outside the administration coalition. Boasting of powerful patrons and fund sources, his congresswoman wife Nikki has declared it is the presidency or bust for them.

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WHERE THEY SCORED: Escudero is the top (26 percent) choice in Metro Manila and the best-off Class ABC or the top socio-economic classes.

But in Mindanao, Estrada (27 percent) and De Castro (21 percent) claim almost the same voter support. The top five in the survey enjoy nearly the same approval in the rest of Luzon (13-18 percent) and among the most numerous Class D (14-17 percent).

In the Visayas, the favorites are Roxas (22 percent), Villar (20), De Castro (18) and Escudero (15). Class E respondents prefer De Castro (25 percent), Estrada (19), Escudero (15) and Villar (13).

The rankings from February to May did not change significantly, except for the five-percent surge of Roxas and the five-percent drop of Legarda. Expect a flurry of analyses for these Roxas and Legarda movements.

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LAPIDS IN PLUNDER: In Pampanga, meanwhile, Gov. Eddie Panlilio filed yesterday a plunder complaint against Sen. Lito Lapid, his son former Gov. Mark Lapid, former provincial administrator Fidel Arcenas and two former provincial treasurers.

Panlilio lamented that “after being displaced, killed, hurt and impoverished by the Pinatubo eruptions in 1991 and the ensuing lahar flows, Capampangans were deprived of basic social services due to corruption during the Lapid administrations.”

He said the Lapids collected only P121 million in sand and gravel taxes from 2002 to June 2007. This should have been at least P689 million, he added, based on the number of truckloads made to pay environmental fees in Floridablanca, Mabalacat and Porac in five and a half years.

In comparison, Panlilio said, in just 23 months his administration collected some P397,608,000 in quarrying taxes and fees.

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PRIEST IN PERJURY: Panlilio himself is facing a perjury complaint filed last week by Mrs. Lolita Hizon of Pampanga’s Best food firm. She was one of his major supporters and financiers when he campaigned for governor in 2007.

Hizon said that the P1 million she contributed in check to Panlilio’s campaign chest was not declared in his sworn financial report to the Commission on Elections. The priest-turned-politico, she said, lied under oath.

Senator Lapid has changed residence from Makati, where he ran for mayor and lost in 2007, to his hometown Porac. This has raised speculations that he plans to run for governor.

The reaction of suspected gambling lord Bong Pineda of Lubao who does not see eye to eye with the Lapids is being watched.

There is also talk that President Arroyo, another native of Lubao, is eyeing the congressional seat of the second district in anticipation of a possible shift to a parliamentary setup. I doubt if she would.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 2, 2009)

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