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Trapo politics

By Mon Casiple

The news was a bit of a surprise. After shopping for a senatorial slot in LP, NP, and PMP, Ferdinand “Bongbong”Marcos, Jr. finally found a nesting place in presidential candidate’s Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party. With this move, the Marcos family will again try–for the umpteenth time–to go back to national politics. On his side, Mr. Villar will try to help breach the historical barrier against the Marcos dictatorship that EDSA I and the antidictatorship movement erected.

The move to bring Bongbong into its fold deliberately sets the NP on a course to capture the pro-dictatorship political base of the Marcoses. This base is, of course, unreachable from the LP side, particularly because of Noynoy Aquino’s own political base that is rooted in the EDSA I and anti-dictatorship struggle. It’s maybe good trapo politics but the consequences will be far-reaching.

Villar gambles that the bitter memories of the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship will have been forgotten or attenuated to the point of a non-factor in the 2010 elections. He, I think, pragmatically saw the advantages of a major slice of the Ilocano vote, access to the huge Marcos ill-gotten wealth, and the projection of a “unifying leader” in the electoral contest. An interesting part of his calculation must be that the loss of possible votes from the Left or from the middle class will not be enough to offset these advantages.

What Villar actually will achieve with this move is the stirring up of a hornet’s nest. The Left, particularly the Makabayan group that he earlier wooed to his side, has no choice but to distance and direct its campaign against his candidacy. To do otherwise will be a political suicide that will reverberate to the heart of the underground movement.

The people power that manifested itself in the August events surrounding Cory Aquino’s death will make the connection between Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Marcoses. That connection has been provided by the Villar and NP campaign. Thus, the translation from an anti-GMA sentiment to an anti-Villar movement is a strong possibility.

It may be a great tactical move as seen from from Villar’s strategists to focus the 2010 presidential elections to a fight between Manny Villar and Noynoy Aquino. However, it brings more complications to an already complicated political contest. It also widened the options and opened new possibilities for the LP’s and Noynoy’s own campaign.

In the end, this NP move may prove to be self-defeating.

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