(I’m paraphrasing) “Whoever the people, through People Power, installs to the presidency, as long as that somebody is not beholden to the oligarchs, even if that somebody is a chimp, then that chimp will be a good leader.” These words were somehow the essence of what former national security adviser Jose Almonte said in Brother Eddie Villanueva’s show, Diyos at Bayan.

In the event that Arroyo leaves her post, the presidency will fall on VP Noli de Castro’s constitutional lap, and nobody else’s. Yesterday’s Inquirer editorial asserts this and even warns that people should be “wary of messengers proclaiming the gospel of snap elections.” To be honest, accepting the fact that de Castro is the duly constituted person to assume the presidency is the bitterest of pills to swallow, without even a guarantee of it being part of the cure.

Despite recent pronouncements that he has always been prepared — not preparing — to do the job in the event that the need arises, de Castro still gives the impression that he is someone who needs to be coached (constantly tutored?) on what to do. Surely if people were to base his credibility on his performance as national housing head, specifically in the relocation of displaced residents for the North Rail-South Rail Linkage Project, it would be less than reassuring.

Back in 2005, a few months after the “Hello Garci” controversy, the PCIJ came up with the story, The Man Who Would Be President. The report provides us insights into de Castro’s character through statements from friends, colleagues and critics. Those who want to give de Castro the benefit of the doubt may find it difficult after reading the report.

It is no wonder that back then and until today, de Castro is still regarded with much ambivalence by the people. Everybody knows he’s vice president. Everybody knows he’s next in line. And yet most people still ask, “Sino ipapalit natin kay Arroyo?”

Noli de Castro is very much a reminder to all of us that removing Gloria Arroyo is only the beginning. There is so much more work to do.

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Neither here nor there. That’s the impression I got after reading Jove Francisco’s blog entry today. While de Castro may insist that, “Nobody! Nobody, can dictate kung ano ang sasabihin ko!”, his actions suggest that he’s obviously still waiting for his cue.

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