2016 is truly messy and very unorthodox. The cynics would say, why should one even bother to vote with the options shaping up. The very system bails out for all in a leveraged competition set up to secure the most votes for the anointed, by ensuring a split ticket for all voters to choose from. In the end, a close margin with PCOS will be a win-win to the anointed.
Traditionally, Filipinos go for a split ticket. They do so because for them it balances things. A split ticket is check and balance for voters. Post Martial Law, only the Arroyo-De Castro was the straight ticket voted to office. In fact, De Castro got more votes than Arroyo in 2004. That gave strategists and campaigners a formula that an unpopular candidate for the presidency can be remedied by getting a very popular media personality for VP. Not much work will be done for the VP candidate so everything else can be focused on the candidate for the president. This would have been the formula for the Roxas-Poe but the best laid plans were put to naught.
There are three assured tandems, according to announcements: Poe-Escudero, Poe-Trillanes and Roxas-Robredo. Two in the final negotiations: Binay-Honasan, Duterte-Marcos or a Duterte-Cayetano. And still another pairing, probably between Gordon and Lacson.
The implications are mind boggling but if you look through it, it is leveraged play for the top post. LP and NP are in a coalition. But NP is fielding 3 candidates for the vice presidential race. The son, Rep. Mark Villar, of the keepers of the faith in NP, is running for the Senate, reportedly under LP. The 3 NP candidates for VP are Trillanes, Cayetano and Marcos. The statement coming from NP says, they will “raise the hands of the 3 VP candidates but will not have a common presidential candidate.” Now, ask about the value of political parties in the Philippine context and these arrangements simply put them out of the play. The parties will just have nomination value and after that, it’s for the survival of the fittest with designed roles played to the end.
This move of NP destroys political parties and makes transactional politics the order of the day. At the ground level, all NP members can support any presidential candidate so long as any of the 3 NP vice presidential candidates are carried. As to NPC, it would be each member to his/her own without any party endorsement for Poe-Escudero. But NPC is gaining more members to a ticket not supported by the party. Truly strange.
Trillanes and Cayetano are part of the Senate trio that has done 25 hearings against the VP. They will continue such play now in campaign mode. Both offered themselves to the LP anointed as VP. They will be tag team against Escudero, who is not liked by LP and the anointed for throwing a monkey wrench at their plans for a Roxas-Poe. Some are also flexing their muscles to teach Escudero a thing or two for his last offensive in 2010 for Binay. Recruiting Robredo to run changes the terrain for Escudero. Both are from the Bicol region. The former from Camarines Sur and the latter from Sorsogon. The vaunted regional votes of Bicol will now be splintered. It will further weaken if Binay-Honasan card plays out.
Escudero, Robredo and Honasan bring national light to Bicol, a province that has not contributed a son or daughter in presidential politics. Escudero and Honasan may not necessarily be the favorite here considering Robredo’s rock star performance in her district and Jesse’s accomplishment. Escudero is not much appreciated because Sorsogon has not really been transformed with all the years of pork and then some. Honasan is not positively looked upon because he has not been seen much in the area, being more Manila based now than Bicol.
With Trillanes and Cayetano, if the numbers of Robredo do not rise, two deep endgame scenarios have been set up: Roxas-Trillanes or Roxas-Cayetano. If Marcos runs without a presidential candidate, he can move freely and throw his command to either Binay or Duterte, and a deep endgame scenario of a Roxas-Marcos. Marcos locks in the Ilocano vote, something he shares tangentially with the VP. If Cayetano runs without a presidential candidate, he can be the swing for Roxas. He brings in his strengths: youth, Taguig, Bulacan and Cebu. Declaring in Davao, Cayetano gained where the rest failed: he embraced Mindanao and in campaign politics, that was very symbolic. Trillanes brings the fringes to Poe but it is more Poe who can bring more to a Trillanes vice presidential run.
After the Robredo announcement, the next will be Duterte’s and to some, this is the game changer that takes more out of Vice President Binay’s campaign. If Poe took away some of the base of LP, Duterte locks in Mindanao and the Bisaya vote save Western Visayas, said to be Roxas’. Of the total registered voters, Mindanao represents 22%, Visayas 19%, rest of Luzon is 44% and NCR at 14%. If it will be a five or six man race, Duterte appears to be winnable.
After the amazing twerking of LP in Laguna, it appears that the sudden surge of approval and trust rating by BSA3 blew up in the face of public contortions in explaining such condemnable act. No sorry needed, according to the top official. Voters should remember that, especially women voters. The explanation by the anointed left much to be desired because it highlighted indecisiveness again and the analysis by paralysis associated to his brand of leadership. Sad. Crisis define character and in every crisis, the anointed melts. Truly sad.
A declaration by Duterte will test the Binay core and his machinery on the ground. Coming from the same local government side, Duterte’s entry will lessen the edge of “Ganito kami sa Makati” because certainly, Davao City is not the financial capital of the country and yet it has a strong narrative to tell. The entry of Duterte also highlights the strengths of both: executive experience and management of multi awarded localities. Still, at the end it will be a ground war that will carry the day for Binay who has been at it for the last five years. Now, Binay jailed or Binay Jr. removed from office after suspension, will have to be measured and carefully considered because, just like the twerking, it could blow up on the faces of the operators associated with LP.
Customized tandem maybe good for voters if it is cleanly picked without pre-approved designs for execution. More candidates remove focus on PCOS. More party lists participating ensures base support for candidate supported. In the end, going straight to the voters cures the customization of choices. It has been said, “every great political campaign rewrites the rules; devising a new way to win is what gives campaigns a comparative advantage against their foes.” The fight is on for a new way to win.