Jojo A. Robles

Raffle them off!

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A friend has proposed that, since the Nacionalista Party has three members running for vice president without presidential candidates, and because three people seeking the presidency still don’t have a running mate, perhaps a raffle is in order.

Senators and NP members Antonio Trillanes, Alan Peter Cayetano and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will join the raffle, which will be held to find partners for Vice President Jejomar Binay, former Secretary Mar Roxas and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

The raffle will certainly be disadvantageous to Binay, because there will be a two-thirds chance that he could end up with either Trillanes or Cayetano, both of whom have been tormenting him for a year through the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that is investigating corruption charges against him. But at least Binay, who was the first to officially declare his intentions for the presidency, will finally end up with a running mate.

I understand that both Duterte and Marcos have not yet declared, as well. If the raffle is held for just two sets of candidates, Bongbong’s mother former First Lady Imelda Marcos will be very happy, since she’s been going around town saying that a Duterte-Marcos tandem is already a done deal.

But I really wonder what having three potential vice presidential candidates from its ranks says about the NP, the old political franchise now owned by the spouses Villar, Manny and Cynthia. The spouses have declared that in case one single position is being contested by two or more NP candidates, a “zona libre” (free zone) will be declared, meaning the party leadership will take a hands-off position and will not settle the dispute.

Of course, this also means that the NP is basically not a real political party, since it cannot even decide whom it would back in case two or more of its members seek one post. And if the NP cannot even settle an internal dispute, how can it dare to become a real force to reckon with in the resolution of inter-party battles?

This sad state of affairs at the NP, which is acknowledged to be the country’s oldest existing political party (founded 1907), is certainly not unique. Since the multi-party system was established post-1986, such groups have become political jokes, always mutating and sometimes even disappearing, depending on the prevailing climate. Members of any party (assuming it is still existing) routinely jump from one party to another, if the former loses power and the latter gains it, and back again if the process is reversed.

The old, respected conventions where delegates decide on the party’s stand on various issues and choose candidates have become extinct, as well, replaced by meetings where party leaders decide beforehand and present a fait accompli to members. And if the members don’t agree with the pre-approved selections, they simply vote with their feet and take their memberships somewhere else.

As I’ve written earlier, the politics of personality have effectively killed the nation’s political parties. What appear to be signs of life in the parties are actually the involuntary movements of the recently deceased or of long-dead, decomposing zombies.

* * *

Speaking of Cayetano, perhaps he should just apply as the running mate of Binay, now that the ruling Liberal Party has shut the door in his face and Duterte has basically ignored him. I really don’t understand why Cayetano seems so desperate to become somebody’s, practically anybody’s, vice presidential bet, even declaring his intentions for the second-highest post in Davao City, after his pleas to be taken in by the Davao mayor have been brushed aside.

Cayetano isn’t even at the end of his term in the Senate and, at 44 years of age, is nowhere near the end of his political career. And all he accomplished by pulling that stunt in Davao was to look like a politician with not enough importance to be considered a credit to any presidential candidate and not enough class to accept that fact.

At least Trillanes is clear about what he wants to achieve by running for vice president— which is not really to win but to use his candidate’s status to continue his work as Binay’s tormentor-in-chief during the campaign. But Cayetano just looks like a pathetic loser when he launched his quest, because he so obviously wants higher office, despite the reality of its futility.

(Among the Yellows, for instance, Cayetano is being laughed at for forgetting that he was once the chief attack dog of Manny Villar in 2010, demanding proof that then-candidate Noynoy Aquino show proof that he is actually mentally fit to run for office. Cayetano may have thought that all is forgiven, but he thought wrong, apparently.)


But politics is the art of the possible, they say. The impossible, like Cayetano’s bid for the vice presidency, requires the talents of someone more adept than the new and unwanted political foundling from Taguig.

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