The author is a consultant for political affairs and analysis of the research and advocacy group Action for Economic Reforms.

You cannot make people vote for someone they do not like unless you scare them into doing so. Many people who would vote for Raul Roco (RR) say they just might vote for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) because they are scared of Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ) and associates. They say that they are only being realistic and doing the intelligent thing by voting for GMA, since RR does not have the wherewithal to defeat FPJ. However, now that the senatorial slates of both GMA and FPJ are known, can anyone still divine the difference between a GMA and an FPJ presidency? Who and what will one be keeping out of Malacanang by voting for either one of them?

If I were a certain gentleman in government custody worrying whether I am ever going to be reunited with my families, friends and funds, the election of either FPJ or GMA would give me hope that one day, in the not too distant future, I would be reunited with them. FPJ is my best buddy and GMA has
offered to reconcile. FPJ’s friendship is real and while GMA’s call for reconciliation may just be another campaign ploy, she has amply demonstrated the willingness and fortitude needed to reconcile herself with anyone and anything – except perhaps the thought of going back to the family home in La Vista. A hoped-for reunion is very possible with either FPJ or
GMA calling the shots.

If I were another certain gentleman lounging in my hacienda wondering how long I can hang on to the wealth I amassed with the help of coconut farmers, I would rest assured that the election of either FPJ or GMA would give me another six full years to make sure that my money is never taken away from
me. I know that FPJ was and is a Ferdinand Marcos-Joseph Estrada loyalist (their minions are on his ticket), we speak the same language and I can easily reinforce his belief that all that controversial money was acquired legally. At any rate, I have Edgardo Angara to confuse him on any legal questions
he may have regarding that.

As for GMA, well, everybody knows that, because of that loudmouth Joker Arroyo, she and I have worked out something. I have honored my end of that something by allowing some of my boys (in the Nationalist People’s Coalition or NPC) to “think for themselves” and join her campaign and by keeping a very low profile in this presidential election. She has honored her end of that something by staying neutral in the impeachment of Chief Justice Hilario Davide for as long as it was politically possible. I am happy that she switched sides when she did because the entire nation’s reaction to that diabolical juvenile exercise would have meant the end of her chances in May 2004. I need her to run in May as insurance against RR who just might beat FPJ if she drops out and all her votes go over to RR. One cannot take chances
when the stakes are so high.

If I were either or both of these certain gentlemen, I would have planned the way things are turning out now instead of entrusting my future to accidents. Luckily for them, all sorts of favorable incidents and accidents – favorable to
them, that is – are happening.

For example: Senator Frank Drilon who was supposed to deliver the Visayas vote to GMA jumped ship and joined the Liberal Party (LP), which was, at the time, leaning away from her. When Senator Drilon left, everybody thought that GMA’s ship was on its way down except, well, “some are smarter than others” as the Widow is wont to say. Now Mr. Drilon is chairman of the LP, and the LP is firmly for GMA. Why would anyone leave for another party in order to campaign for the candidate of the group one left behind is something that
only an incurable paranoiac would ask.

Miriam Santiago, the other vote-getter of that region, jumped from the Kolusyon ng Mga Naka-Isang Pilipino to GMA’s 4K. And it just so happened that John, the other Osmena, also jumped from KNP to 4K. Miriam and Frank are working together on the Visayas vote, and John, the other Osmena is balancing out Lito, another Osmena.

Then there’s Brother Eddie Villanueva. As everyone knows, Jose de Venecia (JDV), Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) and GMA went to see him and spent hours trying to talk him out of running for president. Why? Did they truly believe that Brother Eddie’s followers were their natural constituency? Those who spoke at Brother Eddie’s coming-out party all talked about moral rejuvenation and the need to purge politics of crooks. What made those three believe such need to purge did not include them, along with everyone else?  Besides, most of Brother Eddie’s followers are a natural FPJ constituency.

However, there were celebrities who spoke out for Brother Eddie’s candidacy who are not necessarily the type who would vote for FPJ. They are what one would call thinking celebrities and yes, that breed exists. It would be a bit farfetched to say that the FPJ constituency among Brother Eddie’s followers
is simply going to ignore the opinions of equally popular celebrities who are fellow Jesus is Lord members. Those celebrities could sway voters away from FPJ and into the arms of the other three candidates.

If Brother Eddie did not join the race, his millions of followers would have had to vote for someone else and those millions would have been split, albeit unevenly, into four – FPJ, RR, GMA and Ping Lacson. Brother Eddie is now in the race so those millions are now not so available for any of those four candidates. So why was GMA crying when she left the meeting? Did she stand to lose more of those votes than FPJ or RR or Ping? Or did Brother Eddie’s candidacy take out several million votes from an equation that did not favor her? Could those tears have been tears of joy? Am I drinking too much coffee?

To put it briefly, the 4K and the KNP are two sides of the same coin. There are two very happy gentlemen saying “heads I win, tails you lose” to the rest of us, thanks to all these political “accidents,” that seemingly lie beyond the people’s control.

Lest this author be viewed as needlessly paranoid, let it be said here that an article pointing to Estrada’s unseen hand in current national politics saw print in the International Herald Tribune last Jan. 12, 2004. Thus, he does find cold
comfort in knowing that he is not alone in his “paranoia.”

So, who’s afraid of Raul Roco? Or Salve Bush, for that matter?