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An exciting race

The Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia surveys are out, done at about the same period, the first week of September. Expectedly, Mar Roxas, who was “anointed” by PNoy in the last days of July, with subsequent endorsements by different “friends” of the yellow army, got a big “bump.” Besides, with all those TV and radio ads inundating the consciousness of everyone from the D and E classes, Mar’s rise was predictable.

Grace Poe corrected by a few points. Some ascribe this to her rather unseemly statements in support of the Iglesia ni Cristo rally about a week before the survey period. Maybe from the ABC classes, or maybe a point or two was shaved off from her Metro Manila constituency, but I don’t think that verbal misadventure had enough negative traction yet. She hopes that her well-rehearsed, on-script proclamation at the UP Bahay ng Alumni, followed by her Queso’s Club Filipino launch would bring back the “flying colors.” But the next public surveys will be done in late November this year, and released before the simbang gabi. The instant fascination may have worn off by then.

As for Jojo Binay, the “core” support is holding. But there are months and months before Jojo could sleep, and there’s Sonny Trillanes, who will play the resident “attack dog” of Grace Poe, and who will ferociously hound Jojo until May 7, 2016, never mind for whom the bells will eventually toll. (Apologies to Robert Frost and Ernest Hemingway).

Can Mar and Grace sustain the numbers? Will their “bump,” hers in June, his in September, hold? And will Jojo’s “rock-solid support” not be chipped away by his tormentors, as the days and weeks go by, even as he himself is burdened by the baggage of his now-haunted reign as king of Makati?

And what about the man from Davao City, who keeps denying any presidential ambitions? Why are his numbers holding despite protestations of disinterest? SWS rates him at 11, which is the first time they had him tracked in a long list of 13 names, while Pulse gives him a repeat 15, same as in June, with a list of nine names, which includes Lacson, Cayetano, Miriam, Erap and Bongbong.

Collectively, they score 16 points. Assuming none of them run, where will their supporters go?

One would have to look at the origins of the support (saan hinuhugot?) of those five candidates to guess where these would adhere after Oct. 16. Lacson voters, if he does not go for the presidential sweepstakes, will clearly go to Duterte. Cayetano’s and Bongbong’s to whoever but Mar. Erap to be divided equally among Poe, Duterte and Binay. Miriam’s votes will be divvied up among Mar, Grace and Duterte.

So that’s what the September “snapshot” tells us about what to expect come the December-morn snapshot. This will be an exciting race, especially if, as we have always maintained in this space, it becomes a four-way fight.

Right now, the numbers of Poe and Binay are close enough, those of Mar and Digong likewise (Pulse Asia’s 28 Aug. to 03 Sept. field research).

Within the next survey period (September, October and first half of November), what are likely to impact on the three to four candidates?

For Poe-Llamanzares, it’s the saga of the Senate Electoral Tribunal hearings determining her citizenship status, plus the impending Comelec complaint expected to be filed by the third week of October that would bear watching.

For Binay, it’s what the Ombudsman may do to suspended Mayor Jun-Jun, and perhaps what the Sandiganbayan to former Mayor Elenita. On top of that, whatever charges the government’s prosecutors might file against the vice president, mismo. Add to these his perceived inability to get a viable vice presidential candidate, as well as a credible senatorial slate.

For Roxas, whether the “bump” supposedly brought about by the PNoy anointing (per Egay Erice et al) by the PNoy will be reduced by the misadventures of the same cabinet members that the public blames for everything from traffic to the MRT mess, to the refusal to give income tax breaks to the lowly wage-earner, even to the OFW mass anger against the Bureau of Customs. And more to come.

Now, if Duterte, as he said by text message to Jun Esperon and read to the 25,000 or so who flocked to the Burnham Green of Luneta Park (the count was supplied by the National Parks Development Committee which “owns” and supervises the Luneta) last Saturday the 26th, will finish his soul-searching and file his certificate of candidacy before the Comelec in mid-October, then expect another bump from what is perceived as his thus far solid base of 15 points.

Therefore, come mid-December, we will see all four bunched together in the 20s, with just a few points separating them. This promises to be an exciting race.

Hopefully, it will be the Comelec-sponsored debates and other private media forums participated in by the candidates which will get the Filipino voters to make a reasonably informed choice on who ought to lead them in these parlous and even dangerous times.



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