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Press Statement

Why the FPJ Challenge to GMA is Losing Steam and Weakening

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International Network for Philippine Studies
Chiel Political Consultant
National Democratic Front of the Philippines

23 April 2004

The front runners in the current electoral contest for the presidency of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines are the powerful incumbent president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and the supposedly popular movie star Fernando Poe, Jr. (FPJ).

Both are better known for their negative aspects and vulnerabilities than for their positive qualifications for the high position that they are vying for. They reflect the downward trajectory of the crisis-stricken ruling system.

GMA is vulnerable to criticism for her performance in office during the last more than three years. FPJ is vulnerable to outright rejection as someone totally lacking in intellectual preparation and political experience for the presidential position.

The so-called ABC types of media audience have since the beginning of the campaign dismissed FPJ as some kind of a cruel joke inflicted on the body politic. In fact, they have worried that the D & E types of media audience might elect him president because of sheer mass adulation for a movie hero.

But the masses of working people should not be underestimated as lacking in discernment. They are in fact the best source of learning. Given the time and the opportunity to hear all views, they sharpen their awareness of their own conditions and needs and make the intelligent decisions.

The electoral campaign period has gone far enough to make the broad masses of the people realize that FPJ is inferior not only to GMA in terms of preparation and experience but also to his close friend Joseph Estrada when he was a presidential candidate in 1998.

Estrada was not simply a movie star then. He had occupied the positions of mayor and senator and was an incumbent vice president, who was articulate especially in Tagalog and who succeeded in projecting himself as Erap para sa Mahirap.

In sharp contrast to Estrada, FPJ has never been elected to any public office and has not successfully projected himself as a champion of the poor beyond the screen. He is aloof, arrogant and short-tempered. He is often impertinent when he answers questions of policy. He can hardly form a complete sentence in either Tagalog or English.

Those who underestimate the intelligence of the masses often forget that in the Philippine political landscape there are patriotic and progressive forces, including revolutionary ones, that assist the toiling masses of workers and masses understand the Philippine situation and issues regarding the economy, politics, culture and so on.

The progressive parties in the party list have been exposing the fact that there is nothing in the FPJ program that would turn around the Philippine situation and, worst of all, that the likes of Estrada, the Marcoses and other longrunning plunderers and human rights violators are behind him and are using him as a dummy.

The progressive parties in the party list have also noticed that FPJ has an extremely self-centered mentality and style of campaigning and dealing with people. He gives the impression that he has no need for the help of anyone because he is too popular not to be elected.

He does not recognize the swing-vote strength of the progressive parties and has not approached them for mutual support. He has been negligent in unifying even the people directly around him and has failed to build a complete nationwide machinery of candidates and campaigners.

In view of what is explained above, it is not surprising that the challenge of FPJ to GMA is losing steam and weakening. Campaign reports of the progressive parties confirm the trend. All serious poll surveys, including that of Ibon, reflect this trend. Thus, even the notorious human rights violator General Panfilo Lacson refuses to become the vice presidential candidate of FPJ and insists on staying as the presidential candidate. ###




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