By Llanesca T. Panti Reporter
The Liberal Party (LP), the leader of the Team PNoy coalition, cannot be blamed for the poor showing of two of its three bets in the 2013 polls, Team PNoy campaign manager and Sen. Franklin Drilon said.
Drilon, an LP stalwart, was referring to LP members and former Senators Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and Ma. Ana Consuelo Madrigal who ranked 16th (7.2 million votes) and 20th place (4.2 million), respectively, in the partial and official count from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) transparency server as of 2:33 p.m. on Friday.
Drilon noted that, the fight for LP’s Magsaysay and Madrigal was really tough even if their political party is chaired by President Benigno Aquino 3rd because voters still tend to go for popularity and personality, more than the stance of the political party.
This preference, Drilon said, is reflected in the poll results showing former chair Grace Poe-Llamanzares of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board surprisingly on top of the heap with at least 12.9 million votes as of press time.
“Notwithstanding every effort we exerted to make it a policy-driven campaign based on party platforms, the electorate did not react favorably to that kind of campaign. It is still personality-based, names, popularity. So it has nothing to do with parties. Grace Poe was an independent [candidate],” Drilon said in an interview in the Team PNoy headquarters in Makati City.
Besides the popularity factor, Drilon underscored that thwarting the scions of the seasoned politicians such as Nancy Binay and Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito of San Juan away from the Magic 12 was a Herculean task in the first place.
Binay is the daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay who is gunning for the Presidency in 2016, while Ejercito is the son of Manila Mayor-elect Joseph Estrada. Binay and Estrada lead UNA alongside Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.
The younger Binay, who has already been proclaimed as a senator Thursday night, ranked fifth with 10.8 million votes. Ejercito, on the other hand, is still fighting for his slot in the winners’ circle since the 8.8 million votes he has earned thus far is only good for 11th place.
“The Binay or to a certain extent, Ejercito brand, was there. We really tried hard [to beat it]but it was difficult to overcome. I don’t know if a few more weeks would have made the difference. I don’t think so,” Drilon added.
Even Presidential cousin Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino 4th, the lone LP bet in the Team PNoy slate who is a likely 2013 Senate race winner, admitted that he never envisioned himself eclipsing Binay in the standings.
The 36-year-old Aquino currently ranks seventh with 9.8 million votes.
“I didn’t see myself ranking higher than Nancy because even before she was included in the list of Senate bets of the opposition, she has been in the top 12 in surveys. In fact, she has never been out of the Magic 12,” Aquino told reporters in a separate interview.
Aquino placed as low as 24th in Social Weather Stations surveys.
“From number 24, making it to the top 12 is already an uphill battle for us. To end up number seven is already a big accomplishment. Our range is four to nine, so we are quite happy with number seven. We are hoping that it stays that way,” Aquino pointed out.
Aquino credited his persevering campaign team and the Aquino family’s revered reputation but underscored that his track record of serving the poor was what secured success for him because his credentials earned him volunteers and supporters from the youth and business sectors.
“From the start, the family name was a huge lift. In our ads, I was saying that they were my inspiration in seeking public office. But at the same time, it is still best that I have a track record of helping the poor, and that it is an advocacy that I have been doing for the longest time,” Aquino said.
“There are those who voted for me because I am young, because of my message, because I am the cousin of PNoy. Voters have different reasons, and summing it up ended me up at where I am today. It was a very difficult but a very good ride all the way to number seven,” Aquino added.
While Aquino is a neophyte, his campaign has been ran by seasoned political and campaign figures such as Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Sen. Serge Osmeña 3rd, his uncle and former Sen. Butz Aquino and his father, campaign strategist Paul Aquino.