Thursday, May 2, 2013

Philippine Midterm Election 2013: President Benigno Aquino III versus Vice President Jejomar Binay

President Aquino
Even though President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay are not candidates in the upcoming May 13, 2013 Philippine mid-term election, both of them are spearheading the campaign of their party or coalition’s local and national candidates all over the country. Aquino is campaigning for Liberal Party led coalition Team Pinoy while Binay is campaigning for the opposition coalition UNA. The struggle of the two highest officials of the Philippines in this campaign period to make their candidate win in the election is a prelude for the things to come in the 2016 Philippine Presidential Election. Vice President Binay has already expressed his desire to run as president in the 2016 election. President Aquino on the other hand will not be vying for that position because he is given only one term of office under the Philippine Constitution.

Senatorial candidates of the president under the Team Pinoy coalition have been leading in the surveys conducted by different public opinion polling bodies. In a recent survey 9 out of the 12 senatorial candidates of the president have a big chance winning in the election. UNA candidates are expected to win at least 3 senate seats.  

The result of the midterm election is crucial for President Aquino because after the election he will be already in the second half of this term. If majority of the mayors, governors, congressmen and senators who win are members of his own party, the Liberal, or the administration coalition, then he will have a majority of members of congress and local officials who are supportive of his policies and programs. An overwhelming win by the administration party will make the president stay strong for the remaining years in his office despite the fact that he is ineligible for reelection.                                                                                                                 

The president should come to terms with a Supreme Court (SC) that is filled with majority of justices who are appointed by a former president who is his political adversary.  The president supported and signed the Reproductive Health (RH) Law. However, the petitioners against it successfully got a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) from the SC suspending its implementation.  The SC’s issuance of TRO on an administration sponsored law is a reflection of the state of relationship between the executive and the judicial branches of government.

A win by the opposition coalition UNA of the majority of the elective positions in the government in the election bodes no good for the president. It is a scenario on which he will become a lame duck president. Majority of the members of congress and the heads of local government units will gravitate towards a figure which they will see as having the best chance to become the next president. In that kind of situation the president will be hard put in pursuing his policies and programs that may result in unsatisfactory performance and his unpopularity to the people. It will also be difficult for his anointed candidate to succeed him win against an opposition candidate who has the support of the majority of incumbent national and local officials who are candidates in the next presidential election.

Vice President Jejomar Binay’s bid for the 2016 presidential election will be surely boosted by a win of UNA candidates. However, his early pronouncement to aspire for that position has put him under the scrutiny of many people, and some issues that came out are negative. There are allegations that he and his family have amassed unexplained wealth while in office. And there is also the hot issue of political dynasty. Members of the vice president’s family hold different elective offices all at the same time. His son Jun-jun is running for reelection as Mayor of Makati, and so is his daughter, Abigail who seeks reelection as a representative of Makati. Nancy, the eldest daughter of the vice president is running for senator.  

It is believed that President Aquino will choose as his successor Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas III in 2016. A resounding win of the president’s Team Pinoy in the midterm 2013 election and his good performance in the second half of his term will boost the chance of his anointed one to become the next president of the Philippines.