MY HAIR stood up when I read the report yesterday that Sen. Manny Villar’s rating in a Social Weather Station (SWS) survey on presidentiables rose by a few points, despite a Senate report on the man’s alleged C-5 road shenanigans. Here we go again, I thought. Or more aptly, Gloria Arroyo redux: one accused of a corrupt act able to parry the blows.

Funny, but I felt like hewing to fellow columnist Frank Malilong’s line that if our next president isn’t Noynoy Aquino then Gibo Teodoro na lang. At least in Gibo’s case, we can still bank on a very slim (repeat: very slim) hope that the culture of corruption said to be blanketing the Arroyo government has not penetrated the core of his being.

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Unfortunately, the SWS survey of Jan. 21-24 was, as usual, damning to Gibo’s chances. While Noynoy had 42 percent and Villar had 35 percent, Gibo had a measly four percent (didn’t the previous survey list him as having five percent?). That means Gibo doesn’t have as much a chance as Noynoy in stopping the current Villar juggernaut.

But why am I worried of a Villar win? Some wise guy I talked with has this cute theory on where Villar got the billions of pesos that he is now splurging in his campaign, specifically the flooding of media with his political ads and other forms of infomercials. If the allegation on the C-5 transaction is true, the guy said, then there’s your money.

On this mess, I did not go to Dolphy. Instead, I surfed the Net for more details of the C-5 anomaly—form the two contrasting Senate reports on the issue to background info to even what our other media colleagues thought about it. In YouTube you have in-depth looks by, for example, ABS-CBN’s Ted Failon and GMA’s Winnie Monsod.

That convinced me there’s trouble ahead the moment C-5 at Tiyaga becomes president. But it looks like nobody is taking heed, so much so that the more Villar poured money into his media campaign, the more he looked good to two percent of the respondents who were added to his 33 percent rating in the December survey of SWS.

By the way, hats off to Gibo’s media handlers, especially in Cebu. The two percent drop in Noynoy’s rating can be partly attributed to their effort to demonize him. But you win some and you lose some. That Gibo’s rating did not rise meant his media handlers failed to make him look good. That’s the price of them focusing too much on Noynoy.

Aquino’s campaign strategists, meanwhile, need to review their acts in the past several months. They should have realized early on that all the other presidentiables were targeting their candidate, even using underhanded tactics in the process. That should have merited an aggressive response, not a passive one.

The need was to trade blows, sort of.

Also, they failed to sustain the momentum of the call for good governance that was the offshoot to the death of Noynoy’s mother Cory. Noynoy, for example, failed to play up the anti-corruption message in various “debates” and forums he attended. His partisans also got muted in the past weeks, drowned by the media offensive of the other bets.

Noynoy’s campaign strategists should realize that this is a campaign that is theirs to lose. If Villar wins and this country is again dragged to the path that the Arroyo admin followed, then they should share much of the blame. The same can be said to my activist friends who have allowed themselves to be used by Villar. The spectacle of a revolutionary movement propping up a corrupt president would be that movement’s worst nightmare.

(khanwens@yahoo.com/ my blog: Cebuano.wordpress.com)