(In)Sanity the morning after

BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa - The Philippine Star

You lose or don’t lose your mind when all the votes are counted. After a grueling three months of campaigning that percolated down to two major contenders for the position of president, the country is now looking ahead to meet the country’s 17th chief executive.

On the sidelights, one of the more pressing questions that will be answered will be the veracity of traditional surveys of Pulse Asia or OCTA versus Google Trends, which bases its results on actual searches made on the internet.

Pulse and OCTA have declared a win for Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (or BBM) by a landslide from over half of respondents, while Google Trends showed a complete reversal in its tracking of online searches, favoring instead Leni Robredo.

Google Trends has gained some credibility for its supposed accuracy in predicting the wins of several US presidents in tightly run races where Donald Trump and Joe Biden eventually won. It also claimed the same predictor power in recent elections held in Brazil, Spain, and Canada.

Uncannily, the Google Trends results above were different from what traditional poll surveys results showed. Thus, an affirmation of its metrics power in the Philippine presidential race would become another instance to solidify its credibility.

Should Google Trends accurately predict the 2022 Philippine election outcome, traditional survey companies will need to reassess their methodologies, perhaps to consider including the results of social searches as one of the factors that can be combined with traditional polling.

Continued ‘strongman’ rule

In the likely event of a BBM win, that is, if we still believe in the accuracy of traditional surveys, early news of who will form his government will be precious information since he and his team have been very quiet about this since he filed his candidacy – or even from when he embarked on a political career.

In fact, many economic and political watchers have been apprehensive about what a BBM government will be given the dearth of information on his governance platform, other than him continuously expressing the need for unity during rallies and campaign sorties.

BBM had also denied most requests for media interviews, especially when questions attempting to expound on the kind of programs his government will undertake are asked if he is elected into the country’s highest government position.

From the little that has been gleaned in his political life, speculation is rife about BBM favoring a continuation of the strongman rule that his late father, the former president Ferdinand Marcos, had established and espoused during more than a decade of autocratic rule.

BBM has been quoted to favor the return of the Oil Price Stabilization Fund that was set up during his father’s term, something that local and international economists view as disastrous for the country and the economy.

BBM has also expressed the return of the former powers of the National Food Authority as a way of halving current rice prices, another move seen as a walk back to the past era when abuses in government subsidies bankrupted the state coffers and exacerbated debt levels.

Chances are the son may not really share the same views and leanings as his father, but the dearth of information about what he truly believes in has raised concerns about where and how the country will be moving forward.

Some surmise that BBM is a weak leader, and the next question that follows is who will actually wield power in his stead. Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is one name that consistently surfaced during the campaign period, but a number of Ilocos-based, even Leyte-based, power brokers have also been rumored.

Perhaps more disconcerting in a BBM win will be the continued existence of both houses of Congress, composed of personalities closely aligned with political parties sympathetic and supportive of him. In the Upper House, the opposition will continue to lose numbers since only Risa Hontiveros will likely be retained, if traditional survey results hold water.

A win by Sara Duterte, daughter of President Duterte, as the new administration’s vice president, promises to be different from Leni Robredo’s win in 2016 where she was largely ostracized from the Executive’s circle of power.

How much influence will Sara be able to brandish with BBM at the helm, though, is still also nebulous at the moment, although definitely she will not be sidelined given her popularity and mass support. Some say Sara is a bigger threat to BBM in view of the still-pending disqualification case on BBM. Let’s see.

‘Unexpected’ result

In the event that Robredo wins by a landslide, some major structural changes can be expected in the Executive based on her published and pronounced views. Traditional politicians will not be happy, and she will have a difficult time, at least in the early years, running government, especially if Congress will be apathetic or even hostile to her.

Her win, however, could be the start of a more grassroots-based government where the views of the ordinary people will find a more sympathetic ear, even better responses. Robredo has consistently talked about uplifting the plight of marginalized people, and even her successful programs as vice president testify to this.

If the election results, however, turn out to be another close fight similar to what happened in 2016, when both BBM and Robredo fought for the position of vice president, the risk of high-level political uncertainty will be real.

Should Robredo lose without doubt, she should continue leading her supporters to become catalysts and agents of change to improve Filipinos lives.

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We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us on www.facebook.com/ReyGamboa and follow us on www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at [email protected]. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.


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