Winning the elections
There have been many challenges the Comelec has had to deal with: its controversial Poe disqualification decision, the controversy over receipts, and the leak of voters' data, among others. Still to come: Election Day itself and the day after, in particular whether the results are credible and acceptable to the people.
But, as I told my fellow Ateneo Law professor Comelec Chair Andy Bautista Sunday, when I met him before the last presidential debate in the Phinma University of Pangasinan, definitely the presidential and vice presidential debates that the commission sponsored with several media outlets have been great. They were not perfect but the debates were a real help not so much in changing minds of partisans but of testing the candidates and providing further material for the campaign. There is always much to mine after each debate. Personally, I am glad that I helped Senator Grace Poe in all three debates and that she did very well in them.
Now it is crunch time, with only two weeks to go before Election Day on May 9. Given the consistency of the polls by Social Weather Stations, Pulse Asia, and the Laylo Survey, I think it's safe to say that this is now Mayor Rody Duterte's election to lose.
In my view, the only way he can be stopped is if Roxas and Binay voters shift to their second choice, which is usually Poe. Theoretically, Poe and Binay voters could also switch to Roxas or Binay and Poe voters could switch to Poe, but the latter two are less likely. It does not matter that Duterte has only one third of the vote, if the other two thirds does not coalesce against him, there will be no obstacle to the Davao mayor’s victory.
Poe does have a pathway, even if narrow to victory. She must work on consolidating, even increasing her lead in balance of Luzon and overtake or equal Duterte in Metro Manila. She must get back the gender gap, be second to Mar in the Ilonggo speaking regions, and second (even if far) to Duterte in Mindanao. Critical to these is getting the Roxas and Binay local machinery to switch her. Some of that – in Bicol and Antique, for example, is happening but more of that is needed in the next week or so.
Conversely, Duterte must defend his big lead in Metro Manila, overtake Roxas in the Visayas through a landslide in Cebu and the Cebuano speaking parts of central Philippines, and increase further his Mindanao votes, already overwhelming at 60 percent, to 70 percent. He must also remain competitive in balance of Luzon, maybe dislodge Binay as second placer in the most populous regions of the country.
Frankly, I do not see any pathway to victory for Roxas and Binay. They are likely to stay within the 15-20% range. Even if most of their vaunted machinery stay with them, that would not be enough to win.
Critical moment for Robredo
This is also a critical moment in the vice presidential race. Leni Robredo is now within reach to win against Bongbong Marcos. But that is not certain and it can be tricky because of Roxas' precarious situation.
The appeal now must be to Poe and Duterte voters to choose her over others. That's already happening but it must be actively encouraged while respecting those voters' presidential choices. One must be aware that Marcos has tied up a lot of support of local politicians and has invested in a personal nationwide machinery. If they go to the elections on a statistical tie in the pre-election surveys, he is likely to win for that reason.
One option people could do now, given the consistency of the polling by the established firms, is to consider these surveys as a runoff election. Leaders and citizens alike should just now choose between the top two candidates for both presidential and vice presidential positions. The remaining candidates themselves might consider withdrawing and choosing to endorse an erstwhile rival. President Aquino might want to bring like-minded leaders and candidates together to come up with a united front. I am not proposing this myself not being in any position to do so but recognizing that many now are thinking about this as an option.
This practical option can only happen if the candidates themselves and top leaders make the hard decisions. While there are many voters (40% according to one analyst) who can change their minds, there are those who are core supporters of a candidate.
I am one of those with Grace Poe. Her intelligence, diligence and respect for the electorate always strike me as she engaged with us who helped prepare her for the debates. It also amazed me how calm, collected, and grounded she was given the noise and chaos surrounding her in the last stretch of the campaign. While contrasting herself from her rivals, she has never gone negative, do personal attacks, and call her rivals names. Some are upset that she wasn’t as aggressive during the debate, against Duterte on the rape joke but that is just not her style.
As President, Poe would be so good, so deliberate and organized, and yes so inspiring. Truly a servant leader, someone who will bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the presidency. I say this without qualification, as someone who has taught and mentored hundreds of leaders in the last 35 years.
What struck me most in my working with her was her sense of mission and her passion to do the right thing for this country and our people, and particularly for the poor. Clearly, this is not about her or her ambition but for a cause greater than herself and each of us. It's about where to bring the country in the next six years and how to unite all of us for a greater purpose. It would be so exciting to have her lead the country to a better and happier place.
I am glad I share the vision and values of my presidential candidate. In the next few days, I will write down the reasons why she is the best choice for President, including why this woman will not be unduly influenced by any of us, including the many funders of her campaign. But for now, suffice it to say, that it is her compassion and ability to connect to others, especially the poor, that attracts me the most.
In last Sunday’s debate, Poe delivered a beautiful, definitely the best, closing statement. She was the only one who remembered Jessa, for whom the closing words were supposed to be spoken. Jessa’s mother had tears in her eyes when Grace looked at them tenderly, promising a compassionate government. How I wish that would come true. – Rappler.com
The author is a campaign adviser of Poe