From the campaign spiels of Mr. Roxas, the leading members of the business community get the equivalent of opera’s Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, a political presentation so exhilarating to the business people that can’t help but treat Mr. Roxas like a rock star. Mr. Roxas is their true prophet, the wet dream of their quarterly earnings and speaking in the jargon that animates their daily conversation.
But as in many things blissful, there is always a rub. To the less gilded world outside, to ordinary Joes like my neighbors and I, Mr. Roxas’ spiels are largely nonsense. Concerned with only one thing – basic survival and specifics such as food, medicine and shelter – Davos and MBC talk is just useless blabber to us.
Because the ordinary Joes make up the majority of enthusiastic voters and Big Business is less than 1 percent of the total votes for President, the math is clear. Mr. Roxas is not even competitive in the presidential race. The tyranny of the struggling majority – the poor are now the tyrants to Mr. Roxas grand ambition – is clearly reflected in the nonstop presidential polling. Poll after poll reveals just at what stage of political doom is the presidential campaign of Mr. Roxas.
Mr. Roxas’ gloom and doom does not end with spiels that do not get traction with the common man, the specific constituencies singled out in The Sermon on the Mount: the weak and the meek, the oppressed and the persecuted. Moreover, the candidate whose platform consists of one phrase – kill the criminals – is the most competitive candidate, were we to base the ranking on polling aggregates. Digong Duterte, who wants to make “kill” the national verb, is rising as Mr. Roxas is being dragged down into the dustbin of political history.
Note the difference. Mr. Roxas sounds as an agent of growth and hope while Mr. Duterte is always talking about the bloody side of law and order.
How can a political arriviste like Digong Duterte completely eclipse the pedigreed (grandson of a former President, son of a senator) Mr. Roxas? The same guy who often mocks the Wharton training of Mr. Roxas and clearly eschews all forms of policy sophistication is now beating him soundly. He now calls Mr. Roxas and the LP, and this is not without irony, the “real threat to democracy.” Is there a rational explainer for that? There is, of course.
The number one explanation is this: voters just want a simple, down-to-earth platform. I will get rid of crime and corruption. You will be safe under my presidency. Give me six months and I will clear the crime lairs. Those are over-the-top promises, just like Bernie Sanders’ single payer health promise, but the tired and weary precisely love hearing such promises, even if these are impossible to meet.
The area with the most number of voters where The Digong (with his polling numbers, he deserves the big The) is very strong – Metro Manila – is a chaotic metropolis with chart-busting crime rates. Where the urban rail system that carries more than half a million passengers a day means a two-hour queue before one can get a ride, in coaches where a mass of humanity is packed like those Zamboanga-processed sardines. If the Aquino-Roxas government is not neglecting the urban rail system, it is discriminating against the other mode of mass transport – buses. In countries such as Singapore, the convoy of the discipline-oriented Prime Minister gives way to buses and his convoy does not get in the way of public transport.
Today, the access of the citizens to safe and comfortable forms of mass transport is now the fourth rail of democracy. And, from the sentiments of voters, that is within Digong’s promise to end all forms of chaos, including the one that impairs the mobility of citizens.
Voters are not only rejecting the Aquino-Roxas view that the urban gridlocks are a sign of progress. By favoring Digong, they reject the whole policy package of the ruling duo, even the obsession with GDP growth and credit upgrades. And the voters have a point. What good do nice charts bring to ordinary lives? It is true that the ruling duo has created a class of dollar billionaires now called “those-who-can-buy-a-small-country-rich.” But those below have not really felt the prosperity that has been wholly sucked up the truly rich.
It has been Digong Duterte who has portrayed himself as the antithesis of the ruling duo. This is the short and plausible explanation to his rise in the polls. The young Marcos has been steadily rising along with Digong and this props up further the solid argument that the 2016 voters just want to get rid of the Aquino-Roxas Bros.
Is it too late for the other competitors, Mr. Binay and Ms. Poe, to realize that voters are searching, desperately in fact, for the anti-Aquino-Roxas? Mr. Binay and Ms. Poe apparently have failed to fully grasp the aching of voters to elect a candidate with no ties to the governing regime. Digong Duterte cleverly filled that void with his show of zero reverence toward the present leadership, while Mr. Binay and Ms. Poe, rightly or wrongly, have been suspected of maintaining their ties with the regime. Why did Mr. Binay fail to present himself as the true oppositionist when all the wrecking efforts of the administration have been directed at him?
Voters do not even understand “federalism” and I think that outside of the law and order thing, voters are clueless on the platform of Mr. Duterte. They just want to get rid of the regime and the Aquino-Roxas duo.