Former President Joseph Estrada is still not saying whether he will be seeking the presidency in 2010, saying instead that he will be making his decision by June this year.
He, however, bared his “tentative powerhouse” list of senatorial candidates he will likely be endorsing in 2010.
In a brief telephone interview with the Tribune yesterday, Estrada said Senate President Juan Ponce-Enrile will lead the “Erap Senate team” followed by his son, Senate Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada.
Former Sen. Sergio Osmeña is also being targeted by Estrada for another run in the Senate, as Estrada said that the Senate has been missing the intellectual prowess of Osmeña, along with his strategic thinking, which is always for the good of the country.
Lawyer Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel has also been eyed by Estrada as part of his Senate team, that is, if his electoral protest against Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri won’t be over before the polls in 2010.
Pimentel is believed to have won the Senate seat which is now being occupied by Zubiri, as charges of cheating, especially in Maguindanao, have been raised.
Thus far, according to the camp of Pimentel, the electoral case, now at the Senate Electoral Tribunal, has found many instances of electoral fraud against Zubiri.
Also being tapped by Estrada and his party, the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, is former senator and congressman Butz Aquino, broadcaster and former Rep. Ted Failon and United Opposition (Uno) spokesman lawyer Adel Tamano.
Grace Lamazares Poe, the daughter of the late Fernando Poe Jr., who has made her political intentions clear in running for a Senate seat, has also been included in the Erap list.
So is Rep. Teodoro Casino, currently a party-list congressman, along with Rep. Roilo Golez.
A De Venecia is also part of the Erap Senate slate, with either former Speaker Jose de Venecia’s son, Joey, or Gina de Venecia.
Given the listing, it was noted that none from known Nacionalistas or Liberals’ bets have been included.
The Liberal Party has already come up with its initial list of senatorial candidates, listing, apart from its standard bearer, Sen. Mar Roxas and lead LP Senate bet former Senate President Franklin Drilon, Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio and Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca.
It is expected that in the Nacionalista Senate roster, it will be congressmen in the party who are currently sitting in Congress who are to be tapped by former Senate President Manuel Villar, who is the NP’s standard bearer.
The Nationalist People’s Coalition has not bared its senatorial line-up, although party leaders have admitted publicly that the NPC, the administration parties Lakas and Kampi, will likely come together and support the candidacies of Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Sen. Loren Legarda as president and vice presidential bets.
At the same time, Lakas said among its bets may be Vice President Noli de Castro, who however, has remained coy about the invitation of Lakas and Kampi as a probable administration standard bearer.
NP president Villar has openly invited De Castro to join his NP, giving rise to speculations that Noli will not be running for the presidency and instead run for reelection for the vice presidency under the NP banner.
Lakas had earlier bared its list of senatorial candidates, mostly names coming from the administration congressional roster.
Estrada stressed that his list of senatorial bets whom he will be endorsing and actively campaigning for is at this time “tentative.”
With at least three opposition factions going their own way for the 2010 polls, it is now evident that there is little possiblity for these factions within the opposition group.
Estrada has been consistent in saying that if the opposition forces don’t unite behind one single opposition standard bearer, he will be forced to run for the presidency himself.
Asked if he has already decided to run for the presidency, given the fact that he is preparing a full Senate slate to make up the Erap election team, Estrada said: “Be patient. Elections are still more than a year away. I will announce my decision on whether to run or not by June this year.”
Estrada is scheduled to continue with his Thanksgiving tour, focusing this time in Lucena. He will be in that area for three days.
Estrada, during these tours, is constantly mobbed by his constitutency—the masses.
To this day, despite his conviction for plunder, and despite his long years in detention, he continues to be vastly popular.