The 2022 presidential derby is on

The 2022 presidential derby is on

No, it’s not a misprint. What we’re talking about here is the presidential race in 2022. But while the winner of the 2016 presidential election is still anybody’s guess, whoever will be elected vice president in 2016 would be the next president in 2022. And here is the reason why?

In my article, “Who doesn’t want to be vice president?” (August 28, 2015), I said: “Whoever wins the vice presidency would be in a good position to run for president in 2022. Statistics show that out of the 10 presidential elections since 1946 (excluding the presidential elections during the martial law), five incumbent vice presidents ran for president in the next presidential election and won. They were: Elpidio Quirino in 1948, Carlos P. Garcia in 1953, Diosdado Macapagal in 1961, Joseph Estrada in 1998, and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004. But three other incumbent vice presidents had opted not to run for president, to wit: Emmanuel Pelaez in 1965, Salvador Laurel in 1992, and Noli de Castro in 2010.” I postulated that based on these historical data, whoever is elected vice president in 2016 would win the presidency in 2022.

To date, there are six candidates for vice president in 2016. However, there are only four presidential candidates: Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Sen. Mary Grace Sonora Poe-Llamanzares (more commonly known as Grace Poe), and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte.

Popularity ratings

The latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) polls show that three of the four presidential candidates are in statistical tie: Poe at 26%, Binay at 24%, and Roxas at 20%. The Pulse Asia shows Poe at 26%, Roxas at 20%, and Binay at 19%. Duterte – considered the “dark horse” in the race – has ratings of 11% (SWS) and 16% (Pulse Asia).

But Grace Poe’s citizenship is being challenged before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET). If the SET rules that Poe is not a “natural-born” Filipino — as constitutionally required for presidential candidates – then the citizenship case could go to the Supreme Court for final resolution. But regardless of whether Grace is deemed a natural-born Filipino or not, the controversy surrounding her birth would haunt her during the campaign, which could become a major distraction in convincing the electorate that she is fully and unquestionably qualified to be president of the country. But regardless whether the citizenship issue is laid to rest satisfactorily, Poe’s opponents would use it to destroy her credibility and character.

Indeed, Grace’s citizenship problem smells like a rose to Binay, who was the frontrunner in the presidential derby until Grace entered the race. With his popularity ratings plummeting amidst a tsunami of corruption and plunder charges filed against him, Binay is losing a lot of the points he earned during his vice presidency in the past five years. If Poe were disqualified, Binay could bounce back in the race.
But it won’t be that easy because Roxas would also benefit from a Poe withdrawal. With Poe expected to lose points – or disqualified — because of her citizenship problem, Roxas would presumably take most of the points Poe would lose; thus, outpacing Binay in the race. With no corruption scandals involving Roxas and with Poe out of the race, Roxas would be in a good position to be elected president in 2016.

Vice presidential race

And this brings to fore the question: Who would be elected vice president? As of today, there are six vice presidential candidates, four of who are in tandem with a presidential candidate. The pairings are: The Liberal Party’s (LP) standard bearer Roxas and vice presidential running mate Congresswoman Leni Robredo; the United Nationalist Alliance’s (UNA) standard bearer Binay and running mate Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan; Independent Grace Poe and running mate Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero; and Duterte and running mate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.

The other two vice presidential candidates who aren’t paired with a presidential candidate are Senators Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Although they’re both members of the Nacionalista Party (NP), they will be running as independents. However, they are expected to “attach” themselves to a presidential candidate by way of a personal endorsement. Trillanes has already endorsed Poe, whose popularity could benefit Trillanes by such association. But what if Poe were disqualified? Then Trillanes will have to find another one to endorse or he might just remain unattached, which would make him like a “ronin,” a samurai with no master. The same is true with Marcos who has yet to “attach” himself to a presidential candidate, possibly Duterte.

Not too long ago, Marcos said that he didn’t mind being Binay’s running mate. But when Binay offered Marcos to be his running mate, Marcos declined. He probably realized that it would be difficult for him be in tandem with Binay, who had figured prominently in fighting Bongbong’s father, the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos in the 1980s. It would also be awkward for Bongbong to be Duterte’s running mate because Duterte was associated with Cory Aquino’s revolutionary government in the aftermath of the People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos regime. Cory appointed Duterte as officer in charge (OIC) of Davao City during her presidency. However, it’s interesting to note that before Bongbong declared his candidacy for vice president, he traveled to Davao City and had a meeting with Duterte.

With four vice presidential candidates each in tandem with a presidential candidate, and two ronins, that would make an interesting mix of relatively young, strong-minded, and ambitious individuals, each having a distinct leadership style and an agenda on how to rule an overpopulated country that has yet to come of age.

Who would it be?

The winner will be taking over a vice presidency that is more than just glorified go-fer for the president. He or she can use the office of vice president as training ground for the presidency.

As I have postulated earlier, whoever wins the vice presidency in 2016 would be the next president in 2022, which begs the question: Of the six vice presidential candidates in 2016 – Robredo, Escudero, Trillanes, Cayetano, Marcos, and Honasan — who wouldn’t want to run for president in 2022 if he or she were elected vice president in 2016? What I am seeing in my crystal ball is that all of them, with the exception of Honasan, will run for president in 2022. But Honasan, who might not have any inclination to seek the presidency at this time, might have a change of heart midway through his term in 2019 and decide to run for president in 2022. Once he tastes power, he can get used to it. Indeed, power is aphrodisiac: you taste it once; you’d want more… and more.

With all six vice presidential harboring a desire to seek the presidency in 2022, you’d expect each and every one of them to use all resources they have at their disposal to win – by all means — the vice presidency in 2016. It would be shooting two birds with one stone; whomever we elect vice president in 2016, we’re also electing president in 2022.

Yes, the 2022 presidential derby is on!