INTO the last mile of the presidential campaign trail, it’s pretty difficult to sift through a deluge of political din in which each voice is contending for attention. It would be great if we could draw a comprehensive picture in which to present how candidates stand in the fight. Is Mar Roxas really quickly bolting to the top along with running mate Leni Robredo? Did I speak too soon about the JOLEN Movement, pushing a pair-up of Jojo Binay with Leni Robredo? I thought it was a welcome chemistry in the presidential fight. A talk with a top man in the Binay campaign revealed the tandem as a handiwork of a clique in the Aquino camp which has not quite reconciled with the Roxas faction, nothing to be enthused about. By the time my next column is ready for submission, the campaign period shall have ended and whatever I write in it shall have no more influencing effect.
So the better to put in everything in this piece. But how much can one ventilate in an essay of a thousand words? Even if it were for Jojo Binay alone, that space would be miserably insufficient. There’s a lot to say about his 14 percent drop in the last survey. To the uninformed, that’s dismal. But it’s been discovered that that survey was conducted among a scandalously minute number of respondents – 15 to be exact – made to reflect the sentiments of voters for the whole of Quezon.
And what about the leaking to Roxas of questions asked in the last presidential debate? ‘Tis said that the questions were actually leaked to Korina Sanchez. We leave this for later.
Too many voices, too little space, and time is running out.
The last stage of the 2016 Presidential Debate saw both Vice President Jejomar C. Binay and Secretary Mar Roxas scoring nice points, each proclaiming in their valedictories confidence of being victorious.
But the Duterte rampage presses on, and had gone all the way to the University of Pangasinan auditorium, where, to Roxas’ claim of win, the Digong mocked him: “Kung panalo ka na, bakit ang baba mo sa survey?”
I did not quite get Mar’s retort because from the sofa where I was watching the show on TV, I leapt madly booing, dirty-fingering Duterte on the face on the television screen. I was practically castigating him with what Teddy Boy Locsin would tweet me days after: “Do not choose the winner of the surveys but the best candidate for our country regardless of surveys.”
While loyalties have shifted from one camp to the other in the course of the political game, my faith in Jojo hasn’t fallen a bit. His drop to 14 percent – to an incurable crybaby that I am – is tearfully awful. But at the same time, it is too incredible to be true. How could that possibly happen to someone who has an unshakeable core voters of from 25 percent to 30 percent of the regular turnout of the voting populace, at (in 2010) 54 million? Thirty percent of that is roughly 15 million – a winning score.
A combined undertaking by several parallel groups in the Binay camp to gather support for Jojo has produced an amazing figure of 1.45 million, and counting – which, programmed to multiply 10 times on election day, would amount to a perfect replication of the already estimated number of core Binay voters, which is 15 million. The incredulity of the 14 percent latest rating for VP Binay, therefore, itself betrays a better reckoning.
VP Binay’s chief of staff, Usec. Benjie Martinez, Jr., is a worst-case scenario expert who would accept the 14 percent Binay survey performance and still figure out a win for the vice president.
“Granting,” he says, “that 14% is true, that’s roughly 6 million of the total votes up for grabs by the contending candidates. So what we need to do is make good our ‘times ten’ strategy to ensure our win (1.5 existing core voters times ten converts is 15 million, plus existing survey status of 6 million, or a total of 21 million).”
From all angles, that’s a landslide.
The best way, it appears, for Jojo’s adversaries to beat him is propaganda. For this reason, Roxas has been trying in vain to demolish Jojo very early on with the scandalous Trillianes’ exposes in the Senate. And now into the homestretch of the presidential race, Duterte’s handlers had been at it, projecting a macho image for the thug mayor and he making that projection good with his controversial utterances, among others, cussing the Pope, slamming Catholic voters, flouting his fetish for women, be they alive or cadavers, and hoaxing endorsement by distinguished world leaders like US President Barack Obama, Singaporean Premier Lee Hsien Loong, and the very Pope whom he had cussed,
all of whom came out denying the faked endorsements.
It is in this area where Binay publicists have been on the losing end. They have consistently stuck to the criterion of truth, when propaganda is nothing about truth but all things about impact. When Duterte says Obama endorses him, it’s far from the truth. But it earned him great publicity credits, and it did not matter that eventually the Obama endorsement would be proven a hoax. Ditto with all his other faked stances.
Perfectly timed for the precise approach to the finish line, the Duterte propaganda impact stuck into the electorates in more or less the same manner the Eraptions of Joseph Ejercito Estrada enraptured voters in 1998. It so happened that at that time, Erap’s strongest opponent was Jose De Venecia, then Speaker of the House, and in the history of Philippine politics, no speaker of the House who ran for President had ever won. House Speaker Ramon Mitra ran for President in 1992 and lost to Fidel V. Ramos, then Secretary of National Defense, a post already proven to be producer of Presidents. Ramon Magsaysay was Secretary of National Defense when he ran and won for President against the incumbent President Elpidio Quirino.
It would appear that Duterte is treading the path of Estrada, a former mayor who became President. There is this difference: Estrada became President after first becoming Vice President. Duterte’s is a leap, skipping the vice presidency. The guy best to fit into that pattern is the former Mayor of Makati who first became Vice President before aspiring to be President, Jejomar C. Binay.
Jojo’s becoming President is a done deal. You notice this in the body language of his campaign staff. They hang about in the lounge of their headquarters unperturbed by any apparent debacle of the Binay campaign, as the surveys would indicate. They chat, exchange banters, sip coffee, as though no war is going on in the field.
This is not the kind of frenzy you gather from the Duterte camp where everybody is uptight, urging to do battle. In the Binay camp, not just the battle but the whole war itself has been won – already.
Armed partisans active in combatting vote-buying
We are in receipt of a press statement from a group identifying itself as the Partisano ng Manggagawa, an urban armed partisan (guerrilla) group operating in Metro Manila and Rizal.
According to Red Ibarra, the group’s spokesperson, they have monitored through its networks and base communities that as early as the first week of April, vote-buying operations have been initiated by several candidates, mostly incumbents and from political clans. Malabon, Caloocan and San Mateo, Rizal, have been identified as most extensive in vote-buying.
“In all Quezon City districts, voters are being paid up to one thousand five hundred pesos per for voting for the entire city council slate of the Liberal Party… In San Mateo, Rizal, politicians have crossed party lines and merged their finances to buy votes at cheaper rate… In Malabon, election operators pay up to five hundred pesos per voter…” said Ibarra.
Ibarra explained that as a revolutionary unit, the Partisano ng Manggagawa does not expect genuine or even just significant changes to be brought about by elections “under this present rotten political and economic system.”
“However, we still recognize that millions of our countrymen pin their hopes on the elections and we respect that,” Ibarra said.
“To the candidates and their armed minions, especially those hell-bent in squashing the sovereign will of the people, consider yourselves warned. We shall not hesitate to throw ourselves in harm’s way to relay our very distinct message, a message that may be too late for you to regret,” Ibarra concluded.