MANILA - Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) will likely be a key player in the presidential elections in 2016, according to political analysts, with one of them even calling him a potential "dark horse" candidate.
During a forum on the 2016 presidential polls organized by the Center for Philippine Futuristics Studies and Management Inc. on Friday, veteran political analyst Antonio Gatmaitan said Pangilinan could make use of his "technocratic skills" to address the country's economic and social problems.
"Pangilinan could bring his technocratic skills to address the complicated economic issues that will confront the nation and help address a few selective social issues," Gatmaitan, executive director of the Political Economic Applied Research (PEAR) Foundation, said.
Although Pangilinan has no political affiliation, there is no doubt that he is a political person, said political analyst Ramon Casiple and veteran journalist Vergel Santos.
Both Casiple and Santos were reactors to Gatmaitan's presentation on Friday.
"He's a political person. There's no doubt about it," Santos, chairman of the editorial board of BusinessWorld, said.
"Pangilinan has not built anything, he has simply taken over. He is a major partner or otherwise an influential one in a vast spread of critical sectors," he added.
Santos took note of Pangilinan's stakes in telecommunications, utilities, power, water, railways, roadways, property, construction, financial management and media.
"He is in all that," he said.
'Dark horse' candidate
Pangilinan is the chairman of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) and the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC).
He is also the chairman of Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), Philex Mining Corp., Metro Pacific Tollways Corp., and Maynilad Water Services Inc.
Mediaquest Holdings, the media arm of Pangilinan-led PLDT, also controls TV5, Cignal Digital TV, BusinessWorld, and has stakes in The Philippine Star and the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Casiple, the executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER), said it is clear that Pangilinan has a political agenda in buying stakes in all of these companies and sectors.
He also believes Pangilinan would be the dark horse candidate in the 2016 presidential elections.
"I agree there is a dark horse. And that's MVP," Casiple said.
In case Pangilinan decides to run for the country's top post in May 2016, Gatmaitan said: "Imagine the excitement it can create."
In an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com, however, Gatmaitan said Pangilinan could be a viable candidate for vice president. He said the dynamics of Philippine elections do not favor a technocrat for the presidency.
Other key personalities in 2016 polls
Gatmaitan and the reactors also talked about other key personalities, mostly incumbent government officials who are likely to play crucial roles in the presidential race.
While noting that it has yet to be announced that Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II will be the standard bearer of the administration's Liberal Party (LP) in 2016, they said Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano can also be a potential candidate.
Cayetano, who is a member of the Nacionalista Party (NP), ran for senator under the administration coalition Team PNoy last May.
He has the charisma and a "promising future," according to Wilfrido Villacorta, professor emeritus at the De La Salle University, who was also a reactor to Gatmaitan's presentation.
Villacorta said Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., also from the Nacionalista Party, may not be "ripe" yet for the position come 2016.
Gatmaitan said other key personalities to watch out for in the 2016 elections include:
Senator Antonio Trillanes, whose young, rebel image makes him both an icon and a potential strong endorser;
Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, president of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), who is likely to support the candidacy of Vice President Jejomar Binay; and,
former Senator Manny Villar, who would "probably play the role of a kingmaker."
He said the other key players are former Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez.