Politics breeds strange bedfellows. In politics, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies.
These two axioms are no more evident than in the composition of the senatorial slate of the administration’s Team PNoy. The coalition is composed of candidates from the Liberal Party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, and the Nacionalista Party. President Aquino himself is leading the barnstorming sorties.
But people have noticed that all is not well in Team PNoy. Some of its candidates are absent from some of its sorties. And yesterday, Sen. Vicente Sotto of the NPC said the party members are complaining that the LP is fielding its own candidates in areas where incumbent NPC officials are also running. Is there a coalition or not? he asked. “Can you talk of coalition when you (the LP) placed opponents in areas where we (the NPC) are the incumbent officials?”
Even in P-Noy’s own faction in the administration, all is not well. Some of his closest advisers are not happy that he is taking time off from his duties and responsibilities in running the government to personally campaign for the team’s senatorial candidates. They cannot reconcile the spectacle of political rivals besmirching the good name of then Senator Aquino during the 2010 presidential campaign with what they are now seeing in the campaign for the May midterm elections. The personalities who are now enjoying the endorsement of the Aquino administration are the same people who were viciously maligning him just three years ago. Once opposing political parties, they have now joined forces to become the reform coalition of the administration in the Senate.
Today, we witness the President raising the hands of administration candidates—they who once questioned his psychological fitness to run the country. He now describes them as “Filipinos who truly walk on the right path.”
Many people question how former enemies and opponents can now form such a united stand. They spent one campaign season grabbing at each other’s throats, then they suddenly turn around and wind up with their arms around each other’s shoulders. Some people are asking if such an alliance will even last until the end of P-Noy’s term, or even until next year. Why is our dear President campaigning hard for these guys? they ask.
Some Malacañang insiders even attribute the drop, in part, in the President’s approval rating, as shown by the Pulse Asia survey, to his endorsement of the administration coalition and to the completion of the slate transpiring between November 2012 and January 2013.
Instead of spending so much time campaigning for “those guys,” these people think that P-Noy’s strategy should be to continue what he has been doing, because it is showing the desired results: the 6.6-percent full-year growth in 2012, the preliminary peace agreement with the Muslim rebels, the Senate vote to oust Chief Justice Renato Corona, the passage of the controversial Reproductive Health Law and the expanded Sin Tax Law, among others. Add to that the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer program, which is helping more than 2 million poor families.
These are proof that the reforms Mr. Aquino has undertaken in the past two-and-a-half years are now “bearing fruit,” without the actual help of any political coalition.
The 6.6-percent growth is attributable to nothing else but confidence in the President because of his unwavering adherence to the “daang matuwid” platform and not because he is personally rooting for the 12 senatorial candidates.
Remember that the May 13 elections are not a referendum on his leadership. What the people need to see is their President focusing his energies on the nitty-gritty business of running the government.
You have given them your prized endorsements, Mr. President, you have even brought them into the fold of your ruling party, even lending your own moniker to the administration coalition (Team PNoy). Aren’t these enough?
There’s no need for you to be on the campaign trail, to be physically present in each and every sortie, sweating it out, standing on a flatbed truck, pressing flesh. Because the more Filipinos see you praising the same people who once maligned you and questioned your qualifications, the less they see you as the great leader they thought you were when they voted for you three years ago.
These Malacañang insiders think you should have a hands-off policy on the campaign, and that your anointed candidates should do the campaigning themselves. If they are that good, as you claim they are, then people will eventually see this without the need for you to point it out to them. Your candidates should be able to stand on their own merits.
How much convincing do you need to do for people to elect your chosen 12? As individual candidates, shouldn’t they be the ones doing the persuading for people to vote for them?
There are other things that need the President’s urgent attention—a broader foreign policy on the West Philippine Sea territorial dispute with China, on the Philippine claim to Sabah, and the perceived deterioration of peace and order, to name just a few.
In a nutshell: Be the statesman in the final half of your administration, Mr. President. For these are your “legacy years.”