With Interior Secretary Mar Roxas today bagging the endorsement of President Benigno Aquino III at the historic Club Filipino, the presidential race for the 2016 elections is off to a very fluid and murky start.
Within 24 hours of Aquino delivering his last State of the Nation Address, Rep. Manny Pacquiao became a hot issue when Yacap partylist Rep. Carol Lopez floated his name as a possible senatorial candidate for the Liberal Party as the Filipino boxing icon is being wooed to join the administration party.
Lopez, who before was closely identified with the moribund Lakas-NUCD party, has apparently shifted alliance. Whether her statement carried the weight of the Liberal Party or not, there is no escaping that Pacquiao remains a hot political commodity even if he had lost the good graces of Malacañang.
Undisputed UNA standard bearer and Vice President Jejomar Binay lost no time disputing reports Pacquiao is going over the other side of the political fence.
No, there is no truth Pacquiao is “rejoining” the Liberal Party, Binay said.
And, yes, Pacquiao has given the assurances that his loyalty remains with Binay whose presidential ambition is taking a beating, with him losing the lead in political surveys.
Pacquiao himself may be in a dilemma.
While he attended the UNA gathering after Binay officially severed his ties with the Aquinos, none of his local party mates in the People’s Champ Movement, a local party Pacquiao created, were present.
Pacquiao may be the undisputed political kingpin in his adopted province of Sarangani and a name to reckon with in the senatorial race, but winning a national position will not come cheap now that Binay’s own resources and war chests are being constricted.
With no vice president, few political stalwarts in his senatorial slate and unsure of funds, Binay needs all the political mileage he can get.
Pacquiao is his prized catch.
Pacquiao knows what it is and how life will be if Binay loses in the presidential election next year.
Not only will he again get politically burned, his woes may even worsen.
In a Roxas presidency, his tax cases will proceed and he will absorb vicious persecution from his local political nemesis who are Roxas’ allies before they were Aquinos’– the Antoninos.
Yes, while Pacquiao defeated the Antoninos by way of his friend and party mate General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera, who defeated then re-electionist Darlene Antonino-Custodio, he has not escaped the subtle political wrath of Malacañang.
Recall that Pacquiao joined the wrong side of the Liberal Party – the disgraced Atienza wing. Recall, too, that he supported Nacionalista presidential candidate Manny Villar in the 2010 election and even indirectly called Aquino ‘panot’ (bald). Recall too that he did not sign the impeachment complaint against former Ombudsman Mercedita Gutierrez and against the former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, both of which Aquino lobbied for very hard.
The tax cases filed against him, undoubtedly a result of his political decisions, have given Pacquiao more than his share of beatings – personal and political.
Lopez may be friends with Pacquiao, but there is no way Pacquiao will again become a Liberal party member – not with the Antoninos holding its grip as Roxas’ closest allies in the region.
If Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte runs, that may be his other option. Pacquiao has stated that his heart is with goes for Duterte but his political loyalty is still with Binay.
If there is good and bad in Pacquiao’s politics, it is sometimes his misplaced and unwavering loyalty to political allies – good or bad allies – like former Sarangani Provincial Board Member Eugene Alzate who is now imprisoned for life after being convicted for malversation of public funds.
Now, Pacquiao is faced with an ally that is being accused of plunder in a much bigger graft case.
Pacquiao cannot also hope to join still undecided presidential hopeful Senator Grace Poe with whom the Antoninos are also political allies.
He is stuck with Binay, now carrying huge political baggage.
Pacquiao, who is reportedly nurturing presidential ambitions for 2022, is facing a huge political headache.
His political misfortunes, as far as relations with Malacañang are concerned, could be reversed depending on how he plays his cards in the 2016 general elections. And if Binay wins the presidency.
If he makes the wrong move, he may be check mated between 2016 and 2022.