If he were forced to make a choice today and assuming he has the clout to do it, it is very obvious President Estrada would choose Senator Many Villar as the opposition's standard bearer. During last week's trip to Bataan, the hometown of Villar's mother, Estrada said Villar is the "better candidate,'" although he hadn't made up his mind yet on who to support in 2010.
There is, however, also talk in the media that Sen. Mar Roxas wants Estrada's support in 2010, some of the media reports quoting Roxas as intending to invite Estrada to his hometown too in the Visayas although "much later."
Plenty can happen before 2010, but Villar seems to be the natural inevitable choice for Estrada. Like many gamblers, Estrada likes supporting the llamado from the start, and no one is more llamado than Villar now, not only because Villar has the best popularity ratings but also because he has a fortune to spend in a close race.
Mar Roxas, I guess, could still persuade Erap to support him, but it is difficult to see how he could manage to do it. Estrada's camp is too different in style and disposition to Mar Roxas's camp that it is difficult to engineer their effective coalition. They simply don't jibe, walang kemistri. Picture this: Erap's drinking bouts with buddies versus the Liberal Party's cocktails with piped-in music.
And Roxas has an obvious problem building bridges: To become the president of the Liberal Party, he had to oversee its meiosis and have the issue brought to the Supreme Court for resolution. It could very well be the fault of Sec. Lito Atienza that the two wings of the Liberal Party don't get along together (perhaps all those Hawaiian shirts made the old man too ornery), but democratic politics, sadly, is all about addition. The more people you have on board, the more people there are to vote for you.