Their ‘dream’ game

Rep. Egay Erice beamed proudly in a press conference last week that the Liberal Party candidate, Mar Roxas, had already “beaten” VP Jojo Binay in a survey commissioned by their party, mismo!  The results, per Erice, who declined to name the firm which conducted the quantitative research, placed Mar at 53 percent versus Binay at 37 percent with 10 percent undecided on who between the two they would vote for.

A congressman privately joked: “In-house survey na nga, sila-sila lang, naka 37 percent pa si Binay?  At may 10 percent pang undecided!”  But let’s assume Erice’s truth is true.

Per Egay, they excluded other wannabes because only Binay and Roxas have declared their intentions to seek the presidency.  Beyond that, he declined to give other “results” of what he described as their “baseline” research.

Anybody who understands a little about baseline research knows that Egay, if his claims are at all true, was hiding much, much more than he divulged.  In fairness, he knew what he was doing, which is to peddle propaganda.  In so many words, Egay was saying “bakit namin ipaa-alam sa kompetisyon?”

There is no denying though that President Aquino’s anointing of Mar and his declaration before “a gathering of friends,” two successive events followed by a barrage of yellow-colored advertisements on prime-time, must have created a “bump” for the LP candidate.

Neither is there any denying that both Roxas and Binay want to frame the forthcoming electoral battle in a fight to the finish between themselves only.  Just the two of them slugging it out.  And nobody else but the Camilo Sabios of this world and perhaps Rizalito David or anybody else from Ang Kapatiran.

Mar and the yellow army message would be the classic fight against good and evil.  Note how they used “kampon ng kurakot” in their initial ads.  And Binay, for his part, keeps taunting his adversary and supporters as incompetent and insensitive.  “Palpak at manhid” in Pilipino.

Would that the fight is just between Mar and Jojo, as they hope.  In this space, on several articles, we have maintained that there would be at least four major candidates filing on or before 16 October, namely:  Mar, Jojo, Grace and Digong.

In a recent mass for the dearly departed Butz Aquino, followed by our usual sumptuous lunch in what friends for the last 10 years or so call the “Thursday Group,” a well-respected political strategist who has ran some highly successful campaigns in the past, gave us his view on the coming polls.

Said he, after analyzing almost all the surveys, private and public that he has seen:  “If the candidates are only two, namely Mar versus Jojo [both his friends], it’s anybody’s game in 2016”.  Then his clincher:  “If it becomes a three-cornered fight, say the two plus Duterte, then Duterte wins.  Or if Poe, then she wins”.

“What if there are four, meaning Poe and Duterte as well?” asked a well-known editorialist and lawyer.  “Then either of the two will win,” said the veteran-strategist.

After the best coffee in the country and a deliciously light, layered crepe cake which reminded me of Hokkaido’s patisserie, he left.  The conversation drifted towards whether Duterte would really go for it or not.  And whether Poe would weather the citizenship and residency issues.

Truly, for Mar and Jojo, their fondest wish is for neither Poe nor Duterte to go for the presidential prize come October.  That is also Egay Erice’s fondest dream.

But the electorate is looking for an alternative, someone “new”.  Neither a battered trapo reeling from accusations hurled but merely denied and as yet unsatisfactorily answered, or another cut in the same mold as the company he prides in.  Neither a “kurakot” as the other camp accuses, or a “palpak at manhid” as the former charges.  But someone who is neither kurakot, nor palkpak at manhid.  “May karanasan at kakayahan” will be another quality voters will look into among the candidates this time. 

Mar will have to defend himself against Binay’s accusations of him and the company he kept.  Jojo will keep fending off the accusations of larceny so grand.

Which is why in the history of our presidential elections, that someone “new” is always sought out.  Cory after Marcos; Ramos or Miriam after Cory; Erap;  thence GMA or FPJ, whoever really won, and the un-heralded Noynoy before his mom’s demise.  There are no re-runs; i.e., after you lose in the grand derby, Philippine politics allows no successful re-runs.  We do not have the likes of a Richard Nixon who became POTUS on his second try after first losing to John F. Kennedy.    

Sad observation, because there are so many good men and women who “should” have won, but unfortunately did not.  And for those who should have won, a second attempt at the electoral turnstile turned out to be disappointing, insofar as the presidency or vice-presidency are concerned.  Such is the political culture in the benighted land.

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