By Efren L. Danao
The Manila Times
Sen. Chiz Escudero, who placed second in the 2007 election, is always high up in surveys on people’s choice for both president and vice president. This reminds me of Noli “Kabayan” de Castro in 2003, when he also figured prominently in surveys for the top two elective posts. Kabayan, the No. 1 senator in 2001, went on to win the vice presidency in 2004 although Sen. Loren Legarda vigorously disputes this—but that is another story.
Anyway, going back to Chiz, we talked for close to 90 minutes at the Taste of L.A., along Roces Avenue, Quezon City, on Friday about 2010 and his first year as a senator.
Obama says ‘Chiz’
Will he be running in 2010?
Chiz said that right now, he is not yet qualified to run because he is underage and so would not make any announcement yet.
“Ask me that question on October 10, 2009, when I turn 40. It would be presumptuous of me to answer that right now when I am not yet qualified to run,” he said.
But while he did not give any categorical answer to my question, he gave hints that he is really eyeing 2010 either as president or vice president. When we talked about criticisms that he is too young and inexperienced to run in 2010, he defended himself.
“If I have to wait for the time that I’ll be old enough like the others, I might no longer run,” he said.
He then went on to quote Sen. Barrack Obama’s reply to questions about his youth and inexperience and what would be the effect on the Iraq war and other US problems should he wait longer before running for president.
Obviously, Chiz considers his youth a distinct advantage and while he is at the height of his popularity, why doesn’t he aim for the stars?
GMA not an issue in 2010
In the 2007 election, Genuine Opposition (GO) candidates gave a drubbing to the pro-administration Team Unity bets. While a number of GO bets won on their own merit, some won because of their unrelenting opposition to President Arroyo. Chiz said raising President Gloria Arroyo as an issue would not work in 2010.
This is surprising to hear from Chiz who was spokesman of the late 2004 presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. and had voted to impeach President Arroyo. I looked at him to see if he was pulling my leg but I could not see any such sign.
“GMA is not running in 2010, and it would be unfair to the people if presidential candidates should still use her as an issue,” he explained.
Indeed, candidates would be like shadowboxing if they will be punching at a non-opponent. Chiz said that instead of raising the GMA bogy, candidates should talk about their platform of government.
“Any candidate who runs on an anti-GMA platform is insulting the intelligence of the people. The people will vote for a presidential candidate because of what he or she intends to do if victorious, not because he or she is against GMA,” Chiz stressed.
Now, that is mature political talk from one of the youngest senators of the land.
Chiz’s choice for president
The 2010 presidential election will unavoidably be joined by several candidates. Among the expected bets are Kabayan, Senate President Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party, Sen. Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party, Sen. Ping Lacson, Sen. Loren Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), and independent Sen. Dick Gordon, with Chiz often mentioned as probable even if he had not announced any plan to run.
If Chiz is not running for president in 2010, whom will he support?
“Loren!” was his categorical answer.
This was the first time he had ever identified Loren as his presidential candidate. Oh well, I should have taken the hint when he used the pronouns “he or she,” which indicates that he does not consider the 2010 presidential elections as the exclusive domain of men. Loren, the No. 1 in the 1998 and 2007 senatorial elections, is high in surveys and she certainly deserves to be taken seriously. But wait! Loren and Chiz both belong to the NPC and with both figuring prominently in surveys, a party intramural might ensue.
Chiz immediately rejected such a possibility
“For whatever reason, Loren and I will always be together. In running, we won’t be apart. She is my ninang and we both belong to the NPC,” he said.
Oh, so they would be running together in 2010? A Loren-Chiz (or should it be Chiz-Loren?) tandem would be a blockbuster. But certainly, there should be something in Loren apart from their personal ties that would make her his choice for president in 2010.
“I choose Loren because of her personality, performance, perspective. She is very meticulous and leaves no stone unturned. Her industry, just like GMA’s, cannot be questioned,” Chiz added.
Chiz also talked about his first year as a senator. More about this in my column on Wednesday.