Monday, January 4, 2010

Lakas repackages Teodoro; Aquino, Villar nurture gains

by Joyce Pangco Pañares and Fel V. Maragay

Original Story:

THE ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD is thinking of repackaging the image of standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro Jr. to increase his chances of winning the presidential race, but an analyst says his rival and cousin Benigno Aquino III of the Liberal Party remains hard to beat.

Teodoro could be the next Manuel Quezon, a competent and intelligent leader who would bring the country back to its glory days, a member of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD said Sunday. Quezon was the president of the Commonwealth Republic from 1935 to 1944, the later part of which was a government in exile in the US after the Japanese invaded the Philippines during World War II.

If sheer intellectual prowess and ability to lead would be the deciding factors in the presidential campaign, Teodoro would be a sure winner in May, said Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, who is also the deputy majority leader of the House of Representatives.

But political analyst Jose Alcuaz thinks that Aquino can no longer be dislodged from the no. 1 position in the survey of presidential candidates “unless he makes major and recurring mistakes.”

His ranking would not be affected even if a woman should come out and charge Aquino with rape, or a homosexual claiming he was Aquino’s boyfriend, said Alcuaz, who was appointed as the National Telecommunications Commission’s chief by Aquino’s mother, the late President Corazon Aquino.

Earlier, Lakas-Kampi-CMD president and Saranggani Gov. Miguel Dominguez said Teodoro’s improved showing in the recent surveys was a reflection of the maturity of the voting public.

“We’re seeing a lot of the Filipino youth going for Teodoro, and this is most encouraging in a campaign that has gone online and non-traditional,’’ he said.

“This is not about popularity. This is about the candidate’s competence and intelligence.”

Aquino garnered 46 percent in the Dec. 6 to 10 poll commissioned by Standard Today. Senator Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party got 27 percent, former President Joseph Estrada of Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino 17 percent, and Teodoro 5 percent.

Political analyst Antonio Gatmaitan said he was not prepared to say that Aquino would surely win despite his 19-percent lead in the survey.

“Right now, it is difficult to say that [Aquino] will maintain his position and the others cannot catch up anymore,’’ he said

“I think it is not going to be fair to [Villar] and the others to establish the winner right now.”

If Villar could overtake Aquino’s lead in the surveys, Gatmaitan said, the NP standard bearer would be able to recruit cadres of the upper middle class and middle class volunteers to boost his party machinery in the urban areas.

Villar should re-orient his media advertisements that mostly focused on “meritocracy in his attempt to project himself,” which did not really endear him to the public.

Aquino’s rating might still reach 50 percent or more should the LP intensify its television campaign, reorganize its party machinery and consolidate its forces, Alcuaz said.

“Since his voters’ support is above 45 percent, [Aquino] will naturally aim for a higher score. His objective is to be elected as a majority president,” said Alcuaz, who left the Estrada camp in September after Aquino replaced Senator Mar Roxas as the LP’s presidential bet.

Villar was quite advanced in organizing his political party, successfully pirating several governors, congressmen and mayors from the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, Gatmaitan said.

He said Estrada was still relying on the support of the voters from lower economic classes who largely made up his 10.8 million votes in the 1998 presidential election, and who looked up to him as their savior.

“This is the reason [Estrada] feels confident of overtaking his opponents come election time. The large turnouts in his provincial sorties cannot be underestimated,” he said.

Teodoro, Gatmaitan said, “is not yet a loser but he faces a difficult, uphill fight. [He] is strong in the rural areas, especially in the Central Luzon provinces and in some Mindanao and Visayan provinces where the Lakas-Kampi machinery is formidable.”

Teodoro said he viewed the survey results as “a guide and a challenge” for him to strive for more.

“It’s not yet enough at this time but we’re making excellent progress. Lakas-Kampi-CMD members can improve it every day until the end of the election season,” Teodoro said.

Original Story:

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