On the safe side: 8 LP, 2 UNA

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MARLEN-V.-RONQUILLO
At this point, unless 10 senatorial candidates self-destruct, they are all set to win in the May 13 election. Of the 10, eight are from the LP-led coalition and two are from the UNA.

This means that two slots, the 11th to 12th place, are still up for grabs and the situation at the bottom two is very fluid.

OK, who among the LP/Team PNoy candidates have positioned themselves on the safe side a few days before the election? On who are the two who will coast to victory on the UNA side?

The LP coalition’s eight are Loren Legarda, Francis Escu­dero, Alan Peter Cayetano, Cynthia Villar, Bam Aquino, Grace Poe Antonio Trillanes and Sonny Angara.
The UNA candidates who will make it are Nancy Binay and JV Ejercito.

The only new name on the list is Sonny Angara. But if you look at the realities at ground level, all things point out to one thing: Angara is right now on the statistical safe side. His momentum is up, and every movement has been an improvement from where he was (12th to 13th place) over the past three months. This is what we call peaking at the right time.

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After two major labor federations with no connection to Sonny Angara whatsoever listed their 10 choices for senator alphabetically—which made Angara number one on their ballot—and you get a very public endorsement from Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, political junkies can sense that there are many things positive that are lifting the young Angara up.

What will probably affect the “safe standing” of the 10?

There are really very few factors that can drag down the 10 candidates to defeat.

First, if they commit acts too embarrassing or too gross that would lead to a national turn-off. But nobody among the 10 has suicidal tendencies and what they will most likely do is to follow the advice of President Aquino to his candidates: put your best foot forward.

Stress the high points and the positives. Roll out the endorsements. Don’s get into any major controversy. Don’t get caught pissing in a churchyard.

If you get mired in a controversy, just pray hard that it involves an issue that is still nebulous to voters. Ma’am Loren would have been rendered vulnerable by the SAL-N controversy in a voting population that minds overseas property. But the Pinoy voter is largely clueless on overseas property and offshore accounts.

If you piss in a churchyard, that is a fatal offense. But a New York property or an offshore account—this is the hard truth—is not yet on the list of venal offenses, at least from the perspective of Filipino voters.

This is not the US context that savaged Mitt Romney for his offshore accounts and his Cayman Island tax-shelters. The worst case scenario for Ma’am Loren is a 2nd place finish.
Second, a non-endorsement from the huge voting blocs.

According to Senator Santiago, the INC has nine million voters. If you translate this into an LGU presence, this means Cebu, Pangasinan and Negros Occidental—plus five other provinces in the Southern Luzon or Central Luzon areas. This is a voting bloc so huge that it would affect the dynamic of the election. If one or two of the 10 fail to get the big voting blocs such as the INC and the support would go to those within the statistical range of probable winners, then a question mark will arise.

There is no such thing as a “Catholic vote.” The SWS tracking of the senatorial preferences of the regular churchgoing Catholics bear this out.

Third, a sustained black propaganda against one or two of the candidates listed on the “safe side” is still possible. But it should be one that would stick and gain traction, such as a question on their moral fitness.

Corruption issues are out of the picture. At this stage of the campaign, any “corruption” accusation will sound more like a statement of desperation rather than a statement of truth. The accusation should also focus on a fresh issue, not something rehashed a thousand times to destroy the credibility of a certain candidate. It will not stick. The voters will see through that political scam.

There are five to six candidates still fighting it out for the last two slots. A “Final 12” is really hard to write right now. Senator Santiago has a list of who she thinks will emerge as the 12 final winners. For the clueless, it is a good guide. The feeling of many is that it is uncannily accurate.

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