This year’s presidential election in May will likely be no exception, and one of the most compelling issues will surely be tied to the inevitability of corruption, or at least irregularities of one form or another.
At the moment, the presidential field is being led by four candidates: Sen. Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Aquino of the Liberal Party; Sen. Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party; former President Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada (who was under house arrest for six years); and current Defense Secretary Gilberto ‘Gibo’ Teodoro—the standard bearer of the ruling Lakas-CMD/Kampi ‘coalition’ headed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Why a disgraced politician like Estrada, who was not only found guilty of corruption, but also ‘plunder,’ is still in the running is just one of the insidious vagaries of politics in the Philippines. He still has a formidable following and the presidential ‘pardon’ extended to him by Arroyo has allowed him to remain a viable candidate, although some have dismissed him as a mere spoiler candidate.
But the candidate likely to see the brunt of the attacks will be Villar, who has been at the receiving end of a long list of accusations of inordinately enriching himself—both as a congressman and senator.
Villar has the distinction of being the first postwar politician to become both Speaker of the House and President of the Senate, and he presided over the impeachment proceedings against Estrada in the House in 1999.