POSTSCRIPT / April 19, 2022 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Leni's quitting is only way to stop Marcos?

Three presidential candidates in the May 9 elections have a bizarre formula for stopping former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. from winning the presidency, which is for Vice President Leni Robredo who is No.2 in the surveys to make the “supreme sacrifice” of withdrawing!

Presidential candidates Isko Moreno, Norberto Gonzales, and senator Panfilo Lacson. Photo: AFP.

A presidential preference survey last month was topped by Marcos, with 56 percent, followed by Robredo, 24 percent; Isko Moreno Domagoso, 8 percent; Manny Pacquiao, 6 percent; Ping Lacson, 2 percent; Leody de Guzman, .02 percent; and Norberto Gonzales, 0 percent.

Presidential bets Domagoso, Lacson, and Gonzales held a press conference Sunday to explain their formula for preventing Marcos from recapturing Malacañang which his dynasty abandoned at the height of the 1986 People Power Revolt that sent them fleeing to exile in Hawaii.

Their formula’s logic goes: Many voters go for Marcos because they do not like Robredo, who ranks No. 2 in the surveys. Ergo, if she withdraws, her votes would go to other candidates (such as Domagoso and Lacson?) who could then possibly muster enough votes to beat Marcos.

The survey scores of the three presidential aspirants who were at the presscon total only 10 (the sum of 8+2+0). Add that 10 to the 24 points of Robredo (assuming she quits to humor them) and her votes go to either Domagoso or Lacson whose score would then grow to 34 (or 10+24).

The combined non-Marcos 34 survey votes will still be well below the last Marcos score of 56, but that will be all right for them as long as the Vice President who has been getting in the way will be out of contention.

Nobody asked how the aspirants at the table propose to massage their combined total votes to grow to at least within striking distance of Marcos’ commanding lead.

A lady journalist looked around and asked if anybody thought of using the money spent for the five-star setting of the presscon at the Manila Pen to help victims of tropical depression Agaton. Lacson, known for his careful handling of public funds, retorted that that did not deserve an answer.

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Steering the discussion back to the original topic, Lacson noted that survey results were not always credible. He said he did not believe that majority of Filipinos were Marcos loyalists as recent surveys implied by reporting that 56 percent of adult Filipinos favor Marcos.

His statement followed an earlier comment of Domagoso along the same line, which the media failed to pick up, that his office has been investigating how fieldwork (the interviews) is conducted by outside contractors. He hinted that they have gathered interesting reports.

Btw, Lacson is now running as an independent after resigning from the Partido Reforma, of which he was the chairman, when the party decided recently to swing its support to Robredo.

Another presidential aspirant, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, was conspicuous by his absence at the Manila Pen presscon.

His absence was made more obvious with his name’s inclusion among the signatories of a joint statement. There was no signature above his name (in the copy that we saw). Is Pacquiao not comfortable with the moral stance taken by the other bets on certain issues?

Some commentators on social media, meanwhile, asked about the integrity of presscons, public forums, and election debates where trolls can be planted or whose organizers give undue advantage to favored participants.

At the Pen, somebody asked about Robredo’s allegedly saying recently in so many words that if anybody tampered with the people’s will in the May elections, there would be hell to pay, including chaos in the streets, if not an outright uprising.

The Vice President’s reported statement could not be immediately verified, but it sounded so uncharacteristic of her. Nevertheless, it was allowed to go on record.

The candidates at the presscon recalled their impression of bad faith on Robredo’s part when she and the 1Sambayan convenors were trying to unify the opposition before she eventually announced her candidacy.

Domagoso and Lacson accused her of lying when she kept telling them during the unification talks that she would not run. They deplored her asking them to unite – which they said meant for them to unite behind her presidential candidacy.

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The Manila Pen presscon highlighted not only the unusual logic and mathematics of disgruntled presidential candidates who insisted that Robredo’s withdrawing despite her being the No. 2 closing in on No. 1 was the only way Marcos could be defeated.

But common sense says that candidate No. 2 is in the best numerical position to catch up with No. 1, the leader. The others coming in a distant third, fourth and fifth will find it harder to improve their numbers and overtake the leader.

Among those running against Marcos, it is only Robredo who has shown steady gains in the field. Her campaign rallies keep getting bigger, marked by an infectious display of energy. No other candidate can claim the same ability to gather and move mammoth crowds.

It was the same situation in 2016 when Marcos and she were vying for the vice presidency. Robredo was the underdog in the surveys, but she was able to eclipse the early lead of the son of the dictator – also after Holy Week.

Robredo beat Marcos three times, although only by a small margin, in the official canvass, the recount, and in his protest before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

The failure of Domagoso at the presscon to attack Marcos while criticizing Robredo, and his insistent demand for her to withdraw despite her creditable standing as second to the leader, stirs speculations about a possible Domagoso-Marcos understanding.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 19, 2022)

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