THE PULSE ASIA survey that still had Mr. Binay as the most preferred presidential wannabe (“presidentiable” is not a word, it is a linguistic atrocity ), also noted the waning interest of adult Filipinos in his candidacy. The UNA may spin the survey results and claim that the survey showed the resiliency of Mr. Binay’s candidacy. A 10 percent drop, however, is not a trivial issue.
The 10 percent drop, of course, showed that many adult Filipinos negatively reacted to the Senate inquiry into the supposed corruption of Mr. Binay and his political family. The inquiry would have had no bearing on Mr. Binay had it stayed out of the headlines. But the newspapers had no choice but to adjust the fonts after every hearing on the “Parkinggate.” Corruption stories sell newspapers and fulfill the earnest ambition of newspaper editors to bring popular politicians down to earth with screaming headlines on sleaze.
Especially if that popular politician looks like you and me – Indio all the way and the type that would be probably turned down by the Belo clinics. Mr. Binay, it happens, looks like you and me, Indio all the way, the looks disdained by editors, who are mostly closet royalists.
Without the screaming headlines on Mr. Binay’s supposed scams, his preference rating would have been in the hard-to-beat 60 to 70 percent by now. The adult Filipinos who have changed their mind on Mr. Binay were turned off by what was suggested in the headlines. You see, there is a substantial section of the electorate that bases its preference on what the headlines scream about.
You need not be in the political camp of the vice president right now to see what the prayer of that camp is.
The prayer is for the headlines to scale down from screaming to barely noticeable. One column plays instead of banner headlines. One story a week instead of the daily shout outs in print about how the Binays had supposedly turned City Hall into a family bank. The sooner the stories fade, or are moved into the inside pages with one column treatments, the better for the presidential dream of Mr. Binay.
Realistically, the headlines won’t vanish anytime soon. Those behind the inquiry (of course there are ambitious politicians and financiers behind the inquiry) have laid their case against the Binays very well. The way the witnesses against the Binays have been telling their stories, complete with bagmen and money drops and bidders who were trapped inside elevators, guarantees media coverage and many more headlines to come.
In terms of media appeal, the anti-Binay testimonies are not the disjointed and improbable Benghazi hit jabs on Hillary Clinton. They are professionally told, with one incident of sleaze seamlessly seguing into another for credibility and real impact.
The detractors of Mr. Binay are not without handicaps and limitations. First of all, they have to make good of the demolition job from now up to – at the very most – the first week of December. Before the spirit of the Yuletide sets in.
Even with the given preference of Filipinos for stories of scams and sleaze, there is forgiveness and goodwill during the Yuletide season. Christmas is not a season for demolition jobs. If they can’t finish off their job on time, then Mr. Binay will survive.
So the question now is this. Can the detractors of Mr. Binay generate from the Senate testimonies enough scary headlines that would be enough to doom the vice president from now to early December? Abangan.
There is an upside to the demolition job. If the survey results in early 2015 would still place Mr. Binay on top and with a double-digit lead on the number 2 in the survey, he will probably coast to victory in 2016. The Senate inquiry will not have an encore that will be as credible as the original. Demolition jobs do not get second lives and second chances.
Also, those who know their politics and who have studied the survey results carefully had figured out that there were positive points for Mr. Binay in that survey – on top of the fact that he was still the number one preference.
First, was the clear consensus to vote for Grace Poe as vice president. Poe used to be Mr. Binay’s great nightmare, an undeclared presidential candidate who placed a strong second to Mr. Binay in the early surveys.
Under any team or running by herself, Grace Poe, according to the survey results, would easily win the vice presidential contest. That preference would probably discourage Poe to run for president and encourage her to seek the vice presidency. If to seek higher office is within her 2016 plans.
Second, the civil society move to draft Leni Robredo for president has not gained any traction, at least that was what the figures showed. Another piece of good news for Mr. Binay.
Poe and Robredo are precisely the type of candidates that would give Mr. Binay the scare. Unlike the other candidates surveyed, they come clean and without baggage. In a presidential election with Poe and Robredo not contending, no one can truly cast their first stone against Mr. Binay.