SENATE President Franklin Drilon on Wednesday said the consistently poor showing of Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, presidential candidate of the Liberal Party (LP), is a concern, but he expressed confidence that the ratings of the former Interior secretary will improve with the help of the ruling party’s machinery.
“Of course it is a concern. No question about that,” Drilon, the vice chairman of the LP, said.
In all the past surveys, Roxas consistently trailed his rivals in the presidential race. In December last year, Vice President Jejomar Binay topped the Pulse Asia survey with 33 percent, dislodging Sen. Grace Poe who got 21 percent.
Results of a survey released by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) on January 15 also showed Binay leading other presidential bets with 31 percent. Poe placed second with 24 percent. Roxas got 21 percent, while Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had 20 percent.
Poe regained the lead in the latest survey released by Pulse Asia last week, getting the support of 30 percent of the people polled. Binay got 23 percent while Roxas got 20 percent.
But Drilon said he believes that Roxas’ ratings will rise once the LP machinery kicks in.
“We have the biggest political machinery in the country. We have the most credible ‘general campaign manager’ and that is President Benigno Aquino 3rd,” he told a weekly news forum in The Senate chief said they expect Roxas’ numbers to go up in the next three months as the ruling party will be maximizing its political machinery with the help of local officials.
“We have many governors, congressmen, mayors who are [running]unopposed and therefore, we will have them campaign for our national candidates,” Drilon noted.
He said members of the Cabinet will also campaign for Roxas since there is no law prohibiting them from doing so.
Some Cabinet members were present in the kickoff rally of the LP in Roxas City, Capiz, on Tuesday, including Budget Secretary Florencio Abad.
“Under the law, Cabinet members are not prohibited from campaigning. They can campaign,” Drilon said, adding that what is prohibited is the use of government funds for political purposes.
Roxas was reported to be the top overall ad spender last year, shelling out P774 million from January to December 2015. Binay was said to have spent P695 million while Poe paid P694 million for her campaign ads.
Drilon expressed confidence that Roxas will win the presidential derby.
He also expressed dismay over supposedly slow resolution of disqualification cases filed against Poe.
“I am not happy with the pace of trial in the Supreme Court. It appears that the High Court lacks a sense of urgency. These are] not ordinary case[s]. [They] will have a vast impact on our future,” the Senate chief said.
He maintained that it is within the High Court’s power to hold marathon hearings on cases of great importance.
“Having oral arguments once a week, that is not giving it the urgency it deserves. I’m not dictating on the court, but it is very frustrating because we know for certain that the court could hasten the process by conducting marathon hearings but it has chosen not to do so,” Drilon said.
The President also expressed confidence that Roxas will recover in surveys, scoring opposition candidates for taunting the LP standard-bearer because of his poor survey ratings.
In his speech before local leaders in Iloilo City on Tuesday night, Aquino took potshots at Binay, saying he regretted that Roxas did not make it as Vice President in 2010.
“We need leaders who share our same mindset, who loves Filipinos, and will put the country before self. They are none other than the tandem of Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo,” he said in Filipino.
“Mar and Leni are candidates who don’t do deeds to earn brownie points with the public, who have no drama, who have no gimmick but just all work. With them, we don’t need to hear promises because Mar and Leni have been serving the public especially the needy for a long time now,” the President added.
Also on Wednesday, he called on mayors to support candidates of the Liberal Party so that the reforms that his administration started will continue.
“If you think that we were on the right path for the past six years, why change it?” Aquino said in a speech at the League of Municipalities of the Philippines’ general assembly held at Marriott Hotel.
With CATHERINE S. VALENTE