HALF of the LP’s big names that attended the bash for Mr. Roxas after his anointment had their eyes trained on the exits and doors. They wanted to flee the surreal scenes of partying and celebration that they fully knew would be followed by an impending defeat, then grief. Only Mr. Aquino, Mr. Drilon and Mr. Erice seemed to believe in their own alternative universe – that Mr. Roxas, after some hard work, will win the 2016 presidential contest.
Indeed, the party scenes were anything but surreal. What kind of celebration is one in which electoral doom was the top-of-mind issue among the celebrators? And with a background like this: The Speaker of the House, a top LP leader, calling Mr. Roxas’\ potential rival “unstoppable.”
Mr. Roxas reminds the doubtful LP leaders, the trained escape artists of the party with ever-shifting loyalties, of the following:
Joe de Venecia in 2008 Monching Mitra in 1992
And in a different locale also holding a presidential elections in 2016, Mr. Roxas is Jeb! (just an exclamation point and no surname required), the Republican Party’s fair-haired legacy candidate who will surely be knocked out of the race by Hillary Clinton.
Why are the party’s big guns about to flee, in a massive exodus locally called balimbingan, from the candidacy of Mr. Roxas? Easy to explain.
Every polling data in the country (the skewed, the amateurish, the database-backed) shows one thing – the inevitability of Mr. Roxas’s loss in the 2016 presidential elections. No pollster, even the most pliable one, has dared list Mr. Roxas as the frontrunner because of the sheer falsity of that notion. Perhaps, in due time, the LP can commission a bogus survey outfit to show Mr. Roxas in the lead but leading the public to believe in such improbable surge would simply be, well, too improbable.
Were we to aggregate the polling data, Mr. Roxas’s presidential run would be in for more shock and embarrassment. Mr. Rody Duterte, who can take the country to World War III, is polling better than the LP’s anointed. Mr. Binay, raked over coals and tainted in smear with all the screaming headlines about his supposed acts of high corruption and plunder, will eat Mr. Roxas alive in a 2016 match-up. Over and above them is Grace Poe, who declined the invitation to be Mr. Roxas’s running mate and with the most logical of reasons. Why should she prop up the candidacy of Mr. Roxas when she is topping the presidential surveys?
What about the betting markets? We have no formal institutions that bet on presidential candidates and put real money on the line. To many in the US, these are the most accurate form of polling. But were we to have informal institutions similar to the betting markets, the bets would not go to Mr. Roxas.
The second reason is the real lack of public enthusiasm about a Roxas candidacy. The farmer in the field, the vendor in the slum colony, the jobless young man pounding the street in search of any kind of job all give you a blank stare when you ask about Mr. Roxas and his presidential run. The Mr. Palengke campaign of yore, which pushed Mr. Roxas to the top in his first senatorial elections, is gone, replaced by an image of Mr. Roxas as the Exhibit B of a heartless technocrat. Exhibit A is Mr. Aquino.
You hear people say that Ms. Poe has integrity, Mr. Binay has been unfairly savaged and that Mr. Duterte will jail all the criminals. On Mr. Roxas, the general comment is this: “Hindi mananalo yan.” This is probably the greatest tragedy of Mr. Roxas’ run – being pegged as a loser at this early stage of the game.
The third reason is this. Mr. Aquino, despite his giddiness over Mr. Roxas’ candidacy, cannot really help Mr. Roxas win. Mr. Aquino’s influence is limited. It is in whipping up enthusiasm within his party and doing everything within his means to project that a large political coalition is behind Mr. Roxas and that will make him win. The broader public has no interest in Mr. Aquino’s endorsement.
History also proves that machinery and organization are inutile in a presidential run. Let us look at the elections of 1992 and 1998.
In 1992, every political name that mattered lined up behind the candidacy of Speaker Ramon Mitra. Mr. Ramos had six congressmen and some town councilors behind him. Maid Miriam had nobody but Jun Santiago and some of the RAM boys. Monching Mitra ended fourth and could have been fifth place had Madam Imelda took her candidacy seriously.
In 1998, Joe de V. was backed by majority of the congressmen and senators and grass roots leaders plus the incumbent president. There were outliers in the polling, surveys that showed Mr. de Venecia leading Mr. Estrada by a few percentage points.
Where did Mr. de Venecia end up? A distant second. Mr. Estrada still would have won even if the 3rd and 4th placers gave up their votes to Mr. de Venecia.
Electoral history was on the minds of the LP big names who were eager to flee the celebration of the LP after Mr. Roxas’s anointment. They knew that all that hoopla was good for nothing.