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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
09ECTION03OF05MANILA924
2009-04-29 08:59:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila
Cable title:  

CANDIDATES BEGIN JOKEYING FOR 2010 PRESIDENTIAL

Tags:   PREL  PINR  RP  PGOV 
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VZCZCXRO1752
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0924/03 1190859
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 290859Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3975
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
						
					
C O N F I D E N T I A L ECTION 03 OF 05 MANILA 000924 SIPDIS STATE FR EAP/MTS E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/30/2019 TAGS: GOV PREL PINR RP SUBJECT: CANDIDATES BEGIN JOKEYING FOR 2010 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION not-so-sbtle vote-buying mechanisms. TOP CANDIDATES FORTHE PRESIDENCY --------------------------------- ¶9. (C) The top nine contenders for the Presideny include Vice President De Castro, Defense Secrtary Gilbert Teodoro, Supreme Court Chief JusticeReynato Puno, former President Joseph Estrada, ad Senators Manuel Villar, Loren Legarda, Manuel oxas II, Francis Escudero, and Panfilo Lacson. A second tier of contenders, including Senator Richrd Gordon, Metro Manila Development Authority Charman Bayani Fernando, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay the El Shaddai charismatic Catholic leader Broter Mike Velarde, and Pampanga Governor-priest Edardo Panlilio will be covered in septel. VICE PESIDENT DE CASTRO ------------------------ 10.(C) Concurrently the government's housing czar, Vie President De Castro, 59, has consistently toppd presidential poll surveys. Elected in 2001 toa six-year term in the Senate, De Castro gave uphis seat to become President Arroyo's successful unning mate in the 2004 presidential elections. He is backed by the media giant ABS-CBN where heworked as a radio announcer and television news anhor, making him a household name. De Castro hoss a popular radio show on Saturdays that targets ower income families. However, as a diffident pulic official with unimpressive leadership skillsand credentials, his performance has been lackluter. His reliance on campaign donors could renderhim highly prone to the dictates of vested interets. Still, as a well-liked, personable incumben, he could successfully seek reelection under th administration banner or as running mate of Sentor Manuel Villar. (The two are close friends.) e Castro is married to ABS-CBN executive Arlene Sinuat (of a prominent Muslim clan in Mindanao)who reportedly wields strong influence over him. DEFENSE SECRETARY GILBERT TEODORO --------------------------------- ¶11. (C) Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, 44, announced his candidacy only recently, more than a year after his competitors, yet he still generated a favorable response. His peers in the Cabinet acknowledged he is presidential material, noting his youthful idealism, intellectual capability, leadership, sense of national pride, and firm understanding of challenges facing the country. Teodoro is one of the best educated presidential aspirants, holding a Master's Degree in law from Harvard and placing first in the 1989 Philippine Bar exam. Teodoro is politically acceptable to the ruling Lakas/KAMPI Party and has the support of the 20,000-strong Philippine Councilors League, but lacks the popularity of De Castro, a handicap he can overcome if he can get the support of other parties, including the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) Party chaired by his uncle, business magnate Eduardo Cojuangco. A three-term Tarlac Representative before his appointment to the Arroyo Cabinet, Teodoro once headed the NPC bloc in Congress but became independent after he joined the Arroyo Cabinet. Teodoro's wife "Nikki" occupies the seat he vacated in Congress. Some political insiders speculate that Teodoro comes across as too elite to get the necessary lower-class votes to win. THE CHIEF JUSTICE: A MORAL FORCE -------------------------------- ¶12. (C) Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno has not yet openly declared an intention to run for the presidency, but the anti-corruption "Moral Force Movement" initiative he started April 2009 aims to identify the leadership qualities that he feels will benefit the country -- not surprisingly, qualities he believes he embodies -- without endorsing specific candidates. COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo and other influential figures have nonetheless said they would vote for Puno if he decides to run. Chief Justice Puno's potential influence does not end there. He opposes the U.S.-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and recently voted with a minority of Justices who consider the agreement unconstitutional. FORMER PRESIDENT JOSEPH ESTRADA ------------------------------- ¶13. (C) Mindful of the opposition defeat in the last presidential elections, ousted former President and pardoned felon Joseph Estrada, 72, has threatened to run if the opposition once again fails to unite and field a common