For the most prudent of reasons, I have never accepted as gospel truth the claims of the paid propaganda surveys on the alleged standing of our national candidates. You don’t have to, either. I have a profound respect for scientific polling, but not for polls by fraudsters who make a killing every election by shamelessly proclaiming what 105 million Filipinos think of candidates they do not know, on the basis of alleged interviews with 1,200 respondents.
These are mainly “push polls,” “media call-in polls,” “biased interest-group polls,” all of which respectable professionals call “pseudo polls,” or “polls that stink.” They are fudged and manipulated. You could almost smell who’s paying, but they never say who they are. A foolish (stupid) court ruling protects the crooked pollsters from disclosing the identity of those who pay for their services, saying it is all “confidential.”
Thus the sponsors do not have to report to the Commission on Elections the enormous sums they pay for these surveys as part of their election expenses; the fraudsters do not have to report their income to the Bureau of Internal Revenue; and no law protects the public from those whose most harmful deception is automatically disseminated by the sinister and superficial media without critical analysis or judgment.
Now, these surveys threaten to decide the final outcome of the election—assuming elections—whether they accurately measure the candidates’ real popular standing or simply create a false media bubble about them. PDP candidate Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who is considered the presidential frontrunner, appears to illustrate the first, while vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo seems to illustrate the second.
Whatever your feelings are about the deliberately provocative Davao mayor, you have to admit he has generated an impressive following, even among those who, on moral and religious grounds, should canonically be rabidly against him. His recent statements on rape and killing have shocked and outraged many, but his fanatical supporters will threaten you with possible martyrdom if you attack him on those statements.
He provoked worldwide furor by saying “the mayor should have been first” when recalling the gang-rape and murder of an Australian female missionary in Davao in 1989. But he continued to soar in the surveys. This remark attracted various interpretations, mostly protesting about his foul mouth. But one young reader has since suggested that the remark showed, more than anything else, Duterte’s despotic and feudal bent—his subconscious belief in a “right” claimed by feudal lords and monarchs.
Right to be first
This is called Jus Primae Noctis, in Latin; Droit du Seigneu (French); Das Recht der ersten Nacht (German); Derecho de Pernada (Spanish); Il dirrito feudale (Italian); the Law of the First Night (English. This means the right of the feudal landlord to sleep the first night with the bride of any one of his vassals. Ancient kings freely exercised this “right”; the Roman Senate gave Caesar absolute right over all the women.
Duterte, according to this view, was talking not as a sexual or violent pervert but as an absolute lord and master who believed in the law of the first night. How would you like someone like that for your President, my young reader asks.
But the survey respondents appear not to bother one bit.
Now, whether his apparent popularity will translate into an electoral victory is a different matter altogether. This depends on a number of things.
First, can the Comelec still conduct a free, honest and credible election after its voters’ list has been hacked, and shown to have been padded from 54.3 million to 70 million voters?
The Comelec and the conscript media have tried to downplay the biggest hacking incident in our digital age, and then the padding of the list. But can a valid election ever be held on the basis of a questionable voters’ list?
Second, assuming the May 9 elections are held despite the questionable voters’ list, can the Duterte camp outmaneuver all the other players? Everyone is trying to cheat everybody else, can Duterte outcheat all the others?
Third, will Duterte be able to sustain his “popularity edge” to support the actual results? On May 6, he is supposed to stage a mammoth rally at the Rizal Park (Luneta); the plan, according to pro-Duterte sources, is to gather at least a million supporters, who will camp there until election day. Will he be able to do this?
From the UNA camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay and LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas, partisans confidently point out that even the most scientific surveys have not always correctly predicted the election results. In the most celebrated polling disaster in US history, three scientific polls of the day, led by Gallup Polls, predicted that Republican candidate Thomas Dewey would win the 1948 US election against the Democratic incumbent President Harry Truman. Truman woke up on that day, Nov. 3, 1948, to read the Chicago Daily Tribune saying, “Dewey Defeats Truman,” only to win at the end of the day.
In the 2010 vice-presidential race, Binay, as Erap Estrada’s running mate, trailed Roxas, B.S. Aquino 3rd’s teammate, in all the surveys up to the end. But he managed to beat Roxas in the final count. Binay’s supporters are confident the same feat could be repeated against Duterte.
In Cebu, Mayor Mike Rama, Binay’s principal campaigner, admits Duterte’s popularity. But he says he is in charge of Binay’s machinery and cannot see an equivalent machinery for Duterte. In Philippine elections, he points out, voters need to be assisted in going to their voting centers on election day. Throughout the country, Binay has developed a core strength of barangay workers, according to Binay campaigners.
The same optimism is aired by Roxas partisans, who expect their candidate to spring a dramatic surprise on D-day. They are confident that Roxas will ultimately prevail because of his far superior political machinery. They claim that Duterte does not even have watchers in various parts of the country. To them, Binay could prove to be the more formidable final adversary.
Poe on free fall
All rival camps tend to count Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares out, despite her earlier reported popularity. It appears that many voters were turned off by the decision of nine Supreme Court justices to declare her qualified to run for President, despite her constitutional ineligibilities. This has been aggravated by her latest premeditated lie, that her American husband, Teodoro Daniel Misael “Neil” Vera Llamanzares, has renounced his US citizenship to prepare for “life in Malacañang,” where no foreigners can stay.
She said during the last presidential debate in Dagupan, Pangasinan, that he had renounced his US citizenship about a month ago. It turned out that on April 17—a week, not a month, before she said it on April 24, he went to a barangay captain in Greenhills to make it appear that he was renouncing his citizenship. But April 17 was a Sunday, a non-working day, and Neil Llamanzares, whom one Poe supporter calls “Dr. Neil,” mistook the barangay captain for a US consular officer, who is the only one before whom he could renounce his citizenship, under US law.
Sources at the rival camps say Grace Poe Llamanzares is now “on a free fall,” leaving the contest to Binay, Roxas and Duterte. Her political operatives have started “buying” votes in Mindanao, and her biggest financiers are reported to have begun trying to connect to Duterte.
Now, even more intriguing is the case of LP vice-presidential candidate Leni Robredo. PNoy has gone out openly for her, along with his youngest sister, the nation’s leading product endorser on TV, Kris Aquino. After threatening to lead a “people power” revolt against Sen. Ferdinand (Bongbong) Marcos, Jr., should he win as VP, PNoy must have realized how absurd and ridiculous his threat was, so he is now trying to do everything to push Leni ahead of Bongbong, who is perceived as the runaway vice-presidential frontrunner, survey or no survey, with or without TV.
Even while the surveys were still humoring Francis Escudero as the alleged frontrunner, people were already talking of Bongbong everywhere, and no one was talking of Escudero. In the last presidential debate, all the presidential and vice-presidential candidates ran ads during the live TV coverage, but not Bongbong Marcos. Yet in the first reported case of cheating in the overseas absentee voting, the victim had to be Bongbong Marcos.
BBM and Leni
This is unfair not only to Bongbong Marcos but, above all, to Leni Robredo. She should reject and distance herself from PNoy’s effort to use her to fight his unfinished fight against the Marcoses, and to salve his conscience for his sins against Leni’s husband, the late former DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo. Jesse was killed in a private plane crash on Aug. 2012 off the island of Masbate. Suspicions remain that his twin-engine plane was sabotaged, but there was no extensive investigation to pursue any leads to this day.
Upon his death, PNoy heaped all sorts of honors upon the deceased to the point of absurdity, even proclaiming Robredo’s habit of casually wearing slippers (tsinelas), instead of shoes, to work as a virtue to be emulated in the Cabinet and the bureaucracy.
PNoy obviously could not control his remorse for having given Robredo a raw deal when he named him to the Department of Inerior and Local Governments. So he’s trying to do this to Leni.
As secretary of the Interior and Local Governments, Robredo was supposed to have been given charge of the Interior (meaning the national police) and “local governments” (local government units). But the LGUs have long been operating autonomously under the law, so the only thing the DILG secretary is really in charge of is “the police.” Yet PNoy specifically withheld supervision of the police from Robredo, and gave it to his shooting buddy, Undersecretary Rico Puno. This reduced Robredo into a figurehead with no real powers to exercise.
Then came the mysterious plane crash. Obviously stung by guilt, Aquino heaped various posthumous honors upon Robredo, and supported his widow’s run for Congress. Jesse was a good man and a very good mayor, but PNoy tried to turn him into something his old friends and neighbors in Naga City could no longer recognize.
Now following the Aquino tradition of necropolitics, PNoy is now trying to make Leni the Vice President by hook or by crook. He is trying to use her in his crusade against the Marcoses, without regard to the truth or to public sensibility. What crime has Leni done to deserve all this? Will she allow herself to be used, and does she have the stomach for it?
She is a good person, with a genuine desire to serve, but she is not much more experienced than the other neophyte Grace Poe Llmanzares, and has not quite gained a world view that includes a clear and correct understanding of such difficult issues as contracepted sex, abortion, same-sex marriage, etc.
Like Escudero and Gringo Honasan, she comes from Bulusan, Sorsogon (before she moved to Naga, Camarines Sur). With Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV, who also both claim to have some Bicol roots, she is just one of five VP candidates who will be expecting hometown support from their fellow Bicolanos.
Can she stand being put on top of the more popular Bicolano candidates in Bicol—and on top of Bongbong Marcos in other parts of the country, where his name has become a household word, survey or no survey, just because PNoy insists on it?
PNoy will be a lameduck in just a few days. Leni need not soil her good name just to please a failed tyrant.