Who will now get the Duterte votes?


Mayor Duterte, before his decision to quit on his presidential ambition, was considered the most “au-thentic” of the presidential wannabes (presidentiable is not a word). His reputation of toughness and his supreme ability to co-exist with the Revolutionary Left in Mindanao, were complementary to this perception of authenticity. He is perceived as largely unafraid.

Even in the urban areas of Luzon, Mr. Duterte had legions of admirers, especially the law-and-order types who think that politicians, by and large, have been soft on the scums of the earth. Pacifists like myself (whose energy to fight was exhausted during the Marcos regime) are wary of Mr. Duterte but those who view criminals as natural-born and not shaped by the grimness of their circumstances, were ready to embrace the Davao mayor’s presidential ambition.

Voters looking at the “character” aspect of the wannabes were also part of Mr. Duterte’s sizable con-stituency. And they came from across all the economic spectrums: wealthy, middle-class, poor and very poor. The platform – federalism – never mattered to those held in thrall by the mayor’s tough and fighting words. A revolutionary government, except in tin-pot, faux democracies in the sub-Sahara, cannot be a presidential platform in modern times.

Now that he has begged off from the 2016 race, we have to answer this question. Who will get the votes intended for the tough Davao City mayor? Will they go to the camp of Mr. Binay? Or Senator Poe? Or, Sec. Roxas? Or, will they just hold on until a Duterte clone comes along and enters the race?

Or, “ none of the above” after Mr. Duterte’s big decision.

If only the precious polling done had a question on “Choice Number 2,” the task of finding out would have been easier. Political scientists can just buy copies of the mainstream polling already done and dig through the numbers. But at this stage, with no CoC filed, I think the question of “Choice Number 2” has yet to be asked by the polling firms.

Who among the three major wannabes hews closely into the Duterte mold?

Mr. Roxas, despite his occasional efforts to play cop roles, is not. He is a technocrat and his moments of pique are just the kind Elon Musk reportedly inflict on his faltering, not-up-to-par subordinates. Ms. Poe, despite the tough guy roles played by his dad in the movies, is not. Mr. Binay, despite sharing the skin tone of Mr. Duterte, is not. All three are mainstream politicians who would think twice about de-claring a state of revolutionary government. The three would rather work within the existing system, instead of offering a radical overhaul of the existing structure.

With no polling done of Choice Number 2 and with none of the three remaining wannabes in the mold of Mayor Duterte, taking a crack on who would inherit the votes meant for Mr. Duterte gets tougher.

Looking at poll history offers a very thin evidence on who is more adept at catching the votes from a collapsing campaign. It is, indeed, very thin. In the 2010 vice presidential elections, Senator Legarda’s once-competitive vice presidential run collapsed. She then competed in a three-cornered fight with Mr. Binay and Mr. Roxas and she and Mr. Roxas were the main competitors.

Instead of her votes getting sucked by Mr. Roxas, Mr. Binay was the second choice of the Loren votes and this paved the way for Mr. Binay’s slim lead over Mr. Roxas in the 2010 VP elections, a reality that Mr. Roxas cannot accept even up to now.

Question. Cannot Mr. Duterte endorse his choice for president to settle that unanswered question ?

No. Endorsements have very little value in the Philippine context. And Mr. Duterte cannot endorse anyone of the three without denting his credibility. All of the three dread the words “federalism” and “revolutionary government” and any endorsement from Mr. Duterte will have a very hollow ring.

While every movie star, every big name in politics, every sports hero is believed to carry a certain en-dorsement weight, this is not true in our political context. The same applies to Mr. Duterte.

With the question on who would inherit his votes unsettled, the withdrawal of the mayor from the race will make the presidential race less exciting. Philippine presidential elections need an outsider like Duterte who can bring an out-of-town perspective to presidential debates. I will not vote for him as I fear he will take the country to World War III. But I am willing to listen to him and make his pitch. And test the strength of his ideas against the ideas of the competition.

One more thing. It is about time for a big city mayor to make a serious run for the presidency.

The last time a big city mayor was set to run for president – and all forecasters said he was going to win it – was during the time of Manila Mayor Arsenio Lacson. A heart attack aborted that plan. Since then, no LGU leader ever attempted to run for president.

Should Mr. Duterte reconsider, and pursue his presidential dream anew, no one will accuse him of be-ing a flip-flopper. He should not abort a precedent-setting run and disappoint his legions of admirers.


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  1. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    14 September 2015

    There is that trite but sage saying which goes, “Desperate situations call for desperate solutions.”

    For over-sixty years now, the Philippines has been caught in the vise-like grip of a Plutocratic-Politico-Clerico conspiracy, whose overarching agenda is to perpetuate itself in wealth and power, the better to manipulate and exploit the Filipino people.

    This is the underlying reason why the Philippines has just muddled through and through all these years, with the Establishment pushing that old rickety cart of rotten “tomatoes,” meaning programs and policies that have failed to put the country on a sure, solid, inclusive and enduring path to real prosperity and progress, and explains why it has earned for itself the worldwide pejorative distinction as “The Sick Man of Asia!” [Note that out of an estimated population of around 107 million now, around 30 million are stuck in the quagmire of widespread and chronic poverty, living lives of extreme degradation and dehumanization.]

    That is as “desperate” a situation a nation could ever get to: with its population continuing uncontrollably to explode at a rate which doubles it every 35 years or so, from the present 107 million to around 200 million by 2050, and yet doubling again to around 400 million by 2085–which is to blithely assume that there will be enough physical space to contain all those millions of warm, emaciated and sickly bodies.

    To break that vise-like grip is the best if not the only way the country could ever get out of the backwaters and, hopefully, within 15 to 20 years,join its successful Asian neighbors Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Singapore who have made it successfully as Asian “economic tigers.” And that calls for a person like Davao City Mayor RODY DUTERTE, who has a few if not some of the exceptional qualities of Singapore’s LEE KWAN YEW.

    The Filipino people will be missing what is a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance to get their country out of the rut into which it has fallen all these years if RODY DUTERTE is serious about NOT running for President next year. But there is still hope that between now and the deadline for declaring his candidacy, he may be persuaded to change his mind–for the good of the country he professes to love.


  2. Roldan Guerrero on

    Duterte knows he will not make it and that`s the reason why he backed out. Elections since Glora Arroyo started election rigging and reached its peak on this administration.Roxas also knows very well but he is very confident they still can do the magic of HUCOS-PCOS. Whatever we wish to happen will always lead to another shattered dreams. We should come together and stop these undeserving politicians. We must not let ourselves be bastardized by this yellow army whom we thought could address the needs we are wanting but failed not only the Filipino people but will lead us to a failed state.

  3. Sigaw ng sambayanang Pilipino sa buong mundo para sa tunay na pag babago, kaunlaran at katahimikan lalong lalo na sa mindanao.

    Mayor Duterte for President !!!

  4. adonis b. rocha on

    Nice article Marlen. Mayor Duterte just stole the long time advocacy of PANFILO ” PING” LACSON sans federalism, that won’t work in the context of the Philippines. Just look at Malaysia and the laggards are those states that do not have the resources to fend for itself.

    With local and national experience and a military resumae to boot, vision and leadership, a man of action to get the Philippines out of this morass into an orderly peaceful, shared economic prosperity with plenty of employment opportunities, meritocratic society with nationalism, infrastructure developments, territorial integrity and security…is none other than; PANFILO ” PING ” LACSON. The surveys are but a media hype and paid for by donors of political manipulators. Look at those presidential wannabes, who eversince are already politicking when its not yet the campaign period nor have they filed their COCs, yet months prior to October, 2015 filing month are already out in the hustings…manipulating the law “..palusot”. Are these the kind of candidates you would like to lead and honest government as President? Think not once but twice, clearly you can see them as the same tradpols in “robes”…and we should be beware of these tricksters whose only interest is to serve their political backers at the expense of the greater population. How then would you expect the Philippines to get out of morass we are in, when it is the fault of the voters, that because of herd mentality and hype will vote for these same tradpols in Grace P. Llamanzares, Nognog Binay, Mar “teka teka” Roxas and even maybe a Duterte ! Remember, empty drums makes a lot of noise. Grace P. Llamanzares have shown how callous she was with her “sawsaw at sipsip” during the INC. Edsa fiasco, her citizenship and documentations credibility not to mention that are in grave questions…that borders on honesty and integrity. Nognog Binay with all those corruption levelled against him by the Senate Blue Ribbon is a delusional damaged man and candidate…unable to give coherent explanations but only “tago tago” and “iwas pusoy” tactics…and as can be seen by his many out of line pronouncements, clearly its a case of; “For Whom The Gods Wish to Destroy,..THEY MADE HIM CRAZY FIRST”…. thats Karma. As for Mar, God have mercy on the Philippines…simply he is not the leader that can inspire and lead the Filipinos. Miriam Santiago…her time has passed, Mayor Duterte…..a war freak !

    Who then is battle tested, pok barrel free, incorruptible and able to stand to the powers that and scalawags in Malacanang exposing their corrup practices to the detriment of the Filipinos, is none other than PANFILO ” PING” LACSON…the guy will file his COC for president in 2016 come October in accrodance with the law.

  5. If a criminal slashes your wife’s throat will it matter if he is “natural-born or shaped by the grimness of his situation?” You write well but there are times when you make me laugh..


    For the record, I am a Duterte supporter. And even though you openly admitted you will not vote for him I still greatly admire your subjective point of view regarding his candidacy.

    I have a few questions though. You said, and I quote, “But I am willing to listen to him and make his pitch. And test the strength of his ideas against the ideas of the competition.”

    1. Among the other three you mentioned, who do you think is capable of creating a platform that would surpass what Mayor Duterte is trying to advocate? Let us try to forget the “revolutionary government” in this matter and focus on what he said about support in agriculture, crime and corruption, tax exemption for 25k salary and below, and salary increase for soldiers, teachers and the police.

    2. If any of them would be able to give a better platform, would you openly support that candidate?

    3. But is so ever no one among the other three could present a better platform than Duterte, would you reconsider voting for Duterte if he changes his mind and do run for the presidency?

    4. If your answer to number 3 is no, who will you support? It is already apparent that you will not be supporting the other three if they will be presenting a weaker platform than Duterte. The only other politicians that may be considere are Lacson and Santiago but both are way below the surveys making them less of a threat to the 4 frontliners (given of course no drastic changes will happen).

    Again, thank you for the subjective article and more power.

  7. Mayor Lacson’s heart attack is an induced one. Some powerful guys hated the guts of Arsenic Mayor if he is voted to power that must die.
    The actress bruited about who was in his bedside when the late Mayor passed away is not the lady that caused his “heart attack”.
    Keep writing, Marlen…

  8. laguatanlawzen.com on

    I would like to appeal to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to rec onsider his decision not to run for 2016 Presidential election. Mayor Duterte the country needs you vdery badly. The country is dying from an infectious diseases – cruiminality, smuggling, corruption to the core, carnapping, kidnapping, rape, abduction, you name it. No one has the courageand the political will to instill discipline and introduce radical change to the existing crooked bureaucrfacy. The present wannabes – Roxas, Binay, Poe-Llamanzares are the same opportunists. They are not advocating federalism, but they want to transmogrify corruption into a big time stealling of the national Treasury.

  9. Agueda Kahabagan on

    Duterte is very different from the old crop of politicians that we see ever since time immemorial. I agree with you. He is the most authentic politician in the Philippines. What you see is what you get. In case he decides to run, I don’t see it as flip flopping. For one, he never said he wanted the presidency. If ever he will say yes I will run then he is just answering for the clamor of the people for change – – the kind of change that we want to see ASAP!