THE die had been cast as early as 2011. That is, for Vice President Jejomar C. Binay. That was the year he announced he was seeking the highest post of the land.
To many learned observers, that was Binay’s most damaging undoing. In the face of that pronouncement, the man he beat for the vice presidency in 2010 was immediately uptight. Secretary Mar Roxas, endlessly smarting from that defeat, had certainly anticipated this move by Binay, and the minute Binay announced his presidential intention, Roxas set to motion a well-schemed campaign to demolish the Vice President in a most comprehensive manner. With Sen. Antonio Trillianes, in cahoots with Senators Allan Cayetano and Koko Pimentel III, acting as his attack dog in the Senate, charges of graft and corruption were leveled against Binay in the Senate, and transpirations in the consequent Senate investigation on the matter were ventilated in all spheres of the media, the trimedia and the social media, resulting in a widespread damning of the Vice President. By the time the Mamasapano massacre took place, Binay had been so much discredited in the eyes of the nation that the people were in a quandary as to what to do with the President. The people were ready to dispose of him in a coup or something to that effect, but granting PNoy were deposed for his presidential negligence of the SAF 44, who to replace him with? By provision of the Constitution, a corrupt vice president? Thanks to the Roxas demolition of Binay, President Aquino stayed in place. Otherwise, Vice President Jejomar C. Binay would have fulfilled a prediction by a reputed Chinese seer that he would be president sans election.
Beginning with the presidential defiance of the Supreme Court TRO on the travel ban of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, quickly followed by the impeachment of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato C. Corona (who seemed to have borne the impact of it continuously since then so that he should succumb to cardiac arrest eventually, just this past Saturday), President Aquino has been inclining toward one-man rule. I had seen the Corona impeachment as a necessary cog in the machination to get the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) done through the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), the one single avowed objective of the Mindanao peace process. According to Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Teresita Deles, the Mindanao peace process, hence the BBL, is the centerpiece of the Aquino administration. In the hands of Sen. Bongbong Marcos, however, the BBL encountered rough sailing in the Senate, a development which I believed could, and should, prompt Aquino to take a truly drastic move in order to salvage it from extinction. Such a move could be the declaration of martial law or similar suspension of constitutional processes so as to pass BBL without having to conform to constitutional restraints. In such event, social upheaval will take place in order to bring down Aquino. This had been the basis of my individual perception that, even before I heard about the Chinese seer’s prediction, VP Binay would be president without having to go through election. I had maintained the reservation, though, that I would be glad to be proven wrong in my perception of an Aquino one-man rule, because this would mean the 2016 elections would push through and in which event, Jojo Binay would be president after all.
Two days to election day, this is how the scenario had stood from the start of the presidential fight. By 2014, when presidential intentions had been fixed (except in the case of Duterte whose flip-flapping on the issue coupled with his disdainful public utterances that reveal his disrespect for women, blasphemy of the Church, total disregard for human dignity, and, topping it all, an abominable direct defiance of God that early on portrays just what kind of psychotic, nay, deranged, government administration the Philippines would be with Duterte as President), VP Binay was the indisputable frontrunner, as reflected by 41 percent preference of 1,200 respondents in a survey by Pulse Asia. This, despite the fact that the demolition job by Senators Cayetano, Trillianes and Pimentel had already begun.
Then Grace Liamanzares’ media blitz placed her in a see-saw battle with Binay for the top of surveys, with Duterte, Roxas and Santiago staying put at third, fourth and fifth, respectively. Into the election year, Duterte began making his presence felt with his final substitution for withdrawn presidential candidate Dino of the PDP-LABAN.
How the candidates stood in February 2016 is a critical question. An exit survey conducted by the SWS in 2010 revealed exactly when Philippine voters decide whom to vote for. On election day, 13 percent make that decision; from May 1 to 9, 14 percent; in April, 9 percent; in March, 7 percent; and in February, 51 percent.
This indicates that the candidate who topped the survey in February 2016 is the one who would be president.
How did the five presidential candidates fare in surveys that month?
In a survey by BusinessWorld-Social Weather Stations, respondents were asked the question:
“Kung ang eleksyon ay gaganapin ngayon, sino ang pinakamalamang ninyong iboboto bilang PRESIDENTE, BISE PRESIDENTE, at mga SENADOR ng Pilipinas? Narito ang listahan ng mga kandidato (SHOW LIST) (If the election were held today, who will you most likely vote for PRESIDENT, VICE PRESIDENT, and SENATORS of the Philippines. Here is the list of the candidates (SHOW LIST).”
That survey produced the following result: Jojo Binay, 29 percent; Grace Liamanzares, 24 percent; Rody Duterte, 24 percent; Mar Roxas, 18 percent; Miriam Defensor Santiago, 4 percent; other candidates, 0 percent; undecided, 2 percent. These figures should reflect just how many of the voting populace have fixed their decision to vote for the candidates of their choice.
Now, based on the SWS survey in 2010, the above figures actually comprise the 51 percent that fixed their decisions to vote. How many voters are 51 percent of the voting populace? It’s roughly 28 million, reckoned from the number of turnout of voters at the time which was 54 million. Of this number, Binay must have gotten 8.12 million; Llamanzares, 6.72 million; Duterte, 6.72 million; Roxas, 5.04 million; Santiago, 1.12 million. Going into the campaign period, the candidates are thus already assured of these respective votes.
What the candidates would be proceeding to contend for are the 7 percent of the votes in March; 9 percent in April; 14 percent in May 1 to 9; 13 percent on election day, including the 2 percent undecided in February—a total of 45 percent. Notice that Binay and Llamanzares continued to be statistically tied in first place in March when up for grabs were 7 percent of the votes. This sort of maintained the status quo in the standing of the candidates.
Come April, however, Duterte sprang a big leap, capturing the top spot in survey, scoring 35 percent on top of Grace who garnered 20 percent, this time followed by Roxas with 20 percent, with Binay, tearfully it seemed, at 14 percent. This was the credential the Davao City Butcher carried to the last presidential debate at the University of Pangasinan. While his performance was noticeably below par, in many moments evidently lackadaisical, the euphoria brought about by his sudden topping of the presidential survey had spilled over into the occasion, making him dominate the polls right into the next survey season.
(To be concluded in this column tomorrow, Sunday, May 8)