IT was interesting to observe three wannabes all in Cebu on a Monday morning. There was a Vice President, a Senator and a Cabinet secretary (arranged according to mandate). Binay was with the people, market and barangay settings; Poe was with a gathering of students, youth at a university in Cebu while Roxas was again with elected leaders, aptly named, “Gathering of Friends.” That setting reveals to all observers the target voters they are courting and the problem of exclusivity.
Binay and Poe were strategic. Both cut the middle person (ward leaders or politicians). Binay was more of show than tell unlike Poe, who because of the setting, gave up on the chance to have a conversation with the youth. But Poe had the visual and the roar, good for media consumption. On the other hand, Roxas, since the anointment, always was pictured as talking to leaders, to mayors, governors, vice, etc. Never was there a setting of directly communicating with voters. Roxas kept and is still talking with politicians, apparently his ward leaders, a behavior associated with incumbents who have so many cash and projects to dish out. Roxas was not inclusive at all.
The math of the Roxas camp is nebulous. Politicians have never been good ward leaders because they always go with winners. The other side of the administration’s coin is loaded with beneficiaries of programs, from CCT, Philhealth, BUB, ESA, etc. More and more, the target publics of the DILG, DSWD and DOH are becoming the grassroots base of Roxas. As we get nearer to campaign period, we will see how these three government agencies become the ground warriors of the Roxas campaign. That makes Roxas strong because of the resources of the government. Problem there is how would they sew such intricate silos?
And because of the resources of government, Roxas feels he is invincible. If such is true, why did it take a Drilon to knock some sense to the Liberal Party that Poe is gone? If Roxas is so invincible why is there no beeline for the VP slot? And when writers conduct a postmortem of 2016, the VP is the story of the LP. By making it so public, when rejected, who would want to settle and be the second choice to a Poe? And if Roxas leads more than 10% on the Erice survey against Binay, why is there no LP interested to partner with Roxas?
The Binay camp meanwhile has elevated retail politics to the national arena. In the last five years, Binay has brought local strategies to national campaigning, adhering to Speaker Tip O’Neill’s “all politics is local” dictum. Today, Binay moves at the barangay level. Touching every hand and shoulder, doing boodle fight as standard fare and just going directly to people. This is a punishing pace for a 72-year-old person. What a bewildering proposition and because of that, people with national campaign experience are just stumped. And that accounts for his strength. 25 hearings and all in the Senate, Binay’s hard core remains. For so long as the drop is not sharp or is within the margin of error and the hard support remains, Binay is a force to reckon with in the 90-day campaign.
Binay is also having a hard time finding his VP. But in contrast with Roxas, there is no public courtship. His team put up a search committee and Binay himself laid down the criteria of his VP – an economist, a good manager. And they started floating names, testing the public’s sentiments. Interesting contrasts with Roxas. Same is true with the roles of UNA and LP.
Poe is reportedly set to declare this week. If that will push through, she would appear to be much prepared despite the lateness of the hour. She declares with a vice presidential candidate, a platform, and probably a semblance of a Senate ticket. It will be commanding if she releases a full Senate slate. Although hampered by the residency issue and the narrative she denounced being a Filipino at one point in her life, Poe’s declaration frames 2016. It would seem the independents are well prepared.
If Duterte declares, Mindanao consolidates and it will have a direct impact on Binay, who used to rely on his Mindanao support to push him to the top. With a Duterte run, Binay loses hold in Mindanao.
Since air war has lost its edge due to the ruling of the Supreme Court, 2016 will be a ground war and the magic of air war will be such if it is planned according to the dictates of the ground. Air cannot be a saturation battle, it will be a strategic mix of frequency and reach and who among the candidates know their voters will make it.
Who among the candidates for the presidency would be willing to build a new government center outside of Metro Manila? We need a Putrajaya so we decongest Metro Manila. Bring out the national government is one major way to decongest Manila and we build areas out of Manila.
Who among the candidates for the presidency would be willing to build Clark as the international airport, connected by a speed train to Manila? That is one way to remove the one-hour wait of planes in the 3 terminals sharing one runway in Manila. “Traffic congestion” are two words Filipinos hate because that is often cited as the reason for delays from take off, touchdown and delayed planes.
Who among the candidates for the presidency would be willing to be based two years of the 6-year term in Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon respectively? You have to bring the institution to the islands so presidential politics resist Manila-centric bias and hence, allocation of funds can be based more on need than proximity to the powers that be.
Who among the candidates for the presidency would do the hard decisions on the first three years and just implement such decisions in the next three years? We cannot afford a low learning curve. We need to have plans ready on the first 50 days and start implementing by the 100th day in office. Hence, who among them would make public their indicative cabinet members so that we vote that person because of his/her plan and team and not because one is for TND or daughter of Poe or because he is VP or he teases the public not wanting to declare soon?
It is not easy to build a nation. Brick by brick we carry and toil. Brick by brick, we stumble and fall. This time around, we cannot afford not to carry our brick and lay it on the cornerstone made by previous generations and previous leaders. No leader alone can claim credit for where TeamPH is today. For it is brick by brick that we move. As Thomas Paine once said, “Those who want to reap the benefits of this great nation must bear the fatigue of supporting It.” Brick by brick.