Representative Francis “Chiz” Escudero, House minority floor leader and opposition mouthpiece, has officially filed his candidacy for senator under the United Opposition (UNO).
Accompanied by actress Susan Roces, widow of 2004 presidential candidate Fernando Poe, Jr., Chiz Escudero filed his certificate of candidacy today at the Commission on Elections main office in Intramuros, Manila. In doing so, he jumped the gun on other opposition luminaries who are still squabbling over their inclusion in the UNO senatorial slate.
Before proceeding to the nearby Comelec, Escudero first heard Mass with Roces and other supporters at the Manila Cathedral. It was a carefully orchestrated media event. The presence of Roces, one of the Philippines’ most popular and enduring movie icons, ensured that an adoring throng would follow the candidate as he made his formal bid for a senate seat. He has a good chance of making it too.
Makati congressman Teddy “Boy” Locsin observed that it was a smart move on Escudero’s part to file his candidacy early. He can now choose his battles instead of having to stand up for the fractious opposition at every turn. He can keep his mouth shut on the issues of the day dogging President Arroyo and plead that he needs to avoid being charged with early electioneering. In the meantime, he has a head start on the campaign and can quietly start building bridges, even with administration stalwarts. Despite his high profile role in the opposition, Chiz still has friends in Malacanang. GMA stood as sponsor at his wedding, together with Ms. Roces. A godmother will never completely shut the door on her godson.
I knew Chiz briefly when we were both young associates in a law firm. My initial impression was that he was a chip of the old block, his dad being Marcos-era cabinet member and Bicol politician Dr. Salvador Escudero. Although he has shown the same intelligence and charisma, Chiz has far surpassed his father in popularity. He now has a good shot at landing a meatier role on a bigger stage.