Mercado: My favorite politician

BY TRAINING, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is an economist.

Her second profession is politics. She excels in the first.

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She is unbeatable in the second.

I admire the way she runs politics in her province.

Nothing of that hit-and-miss type of people management.

She leaves nothing to chance. And she has all places covered.

She is truly magnificent in her second profession. If Marcos was unparalleled in his ruthlessness, Mrs. Arroyo is incomparable in her determination.

Well, it is in her zodiac sign – Aries the bull. She will get her heart’s desire no matter what.

Look at how splendidly she handled Pampango politicians.

Senator Lito Lapid, Pampanga’s foremost leader as governor for three terms, used to be a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC). President Ramos converted the folk hero to Lakas-NUCD.

When she assumed the presidency in 2001, Mrs. Arroyo took Lapid into the Palace pasture. He has been taken care of very well by his patron since then. She has gambled on him, successfully. A shocked nation wondered how the former stunt man from Porac could win a seat in the Philippine Senate.

Lito’s botched candidacy for Makati mayor was not Madame’s gamble – it was the First Gentleman’s call. Our folk hero, a master acrobat, obliged and made his tumbling trick without serious injury.

As Senator, Lapid has been effectively shut out of Pampanga politics. In his comeback attempt in December Lapid met blocking forces on his way to the Capitol.

Madame has persuaded him to run for reelection. He is likely to get a second term in exchange of the governorship on which he set his sight.

With Lapid out of the Capitol race, Mrs. Lilia “Nanay Baby” Pineda has become the “lamado”. Present betting odds are 5-3 in her favor against the maverick priest.

Former Governor Mark Lapid has also been appointed head of the Philippine Tourism Authority. He would not exchange it for another attempt at the Capitol.

As both Lapids are out of the local elections, the governorship comes nearer each day within grasp of Nanay Baby, the Comelec-declared winner of 2007.

Mrs. Arroyo has effectively preempted other local political figures from engaging in top-level elective offices in Pampanga without her blessing.

Former congressman Zeny Cruz Ducut, a darling of the rural folk, has been appointed Chair of the Energy Regulatory Commission. Her political “pakner”, Clayton Olalia is now Agriculture assistant secretary. You can say the tandem has been dismantled as of now.

Former congressman and ex-city mayor Rey Aquino is chief of the Philhealth Corp. The challenges and opportunities of public service there had dwarfed his ambition for a local elective post.

With Aquino out of Pampanga, the President’s “adoptive” son, Representatives Dong Gonzales, remains unbeatable as 3rd district lawmaker. PGMA virtually left her former ally City Mayor Oca Rodriguez without an opponent.

But Rodriguez has turned Liberal and Aquino supporter. Don’t blame Oca – classic realist and romanticist: he wants another Kapampangan president.

Representative Anna York B. Sagum, while an NPC member, is an Arroyo loyalist. Madame has sheltered Anna York under Palace wings, along with the two other lawmakers, Dong Gonzales, and the elusive Rep. Tarzan Lazatin. Do not blame Congressman Tarzan if he sees the coming of a new era.

Even Angeles City Mayor Blueboy Nepomuceno is a known “secret” PGMA ally, proof of which he was on her side during the impeachment(s). The two would meet privately at the White House inside Clark on many occasions, a “tryst” unbeknownst to concerned followers.

Of all people – Congressional bet Ares Yabut supports GMA’s candidacy in the 2nd district. “With the three missions of my life on line, I can join forces with Mrs. Arroyo, and we can unite for the advancement of Pampangos.” Ares said, “And definitely she will make a great speaker.”

It seems that all upcoming Pampango leaders of consequence have been taken and nurtured as allies of PGMA now, and in the future. Exclude Governor Panlilio who is allergic to money bags: Parang naiipitan ng yagba kung sumigaw.

Recently, former Magalang mayor Pastor Guiao, uncle of the Vice Governor who supports PGMA, has been given the Tesda portfolio, up from being No. 2 man.

A young and exciting political leader, Dennis Cunanan, now heads the Technological Resource and Livelihood Center.

With quite a number of cabalen in top positions under PGMA’s tutelage, she has gambled on these people. She gambled and made Gonzales a congressman; she bet on Lapid and he became senator. Can Nanay Baby be far behind? Disraeli after all says that “there is no gambling like politics.”

I rate GMA truly magnificent in this profession. The calling, according to Dwight Eisenhower, is “serious, complicated and in its true sense, a noble one.”
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