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Opinion

It’s Isko, not Leni, who must withdraw

POSTSCRIPT - Federico D. Pascual Jr. - The Philippine Star

With eight of the 10 runners falling by the wayside, the May 9 presidential race has started to enter the showdown sprint to the finish line between former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo.

Two other presidential contenders of consequence, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso and Sen. Ping Lacson, lost points last Sunday in their clumsy attempt to use a press conference at the Manila Peninsula to pressure Robredo to withdraw on the basis of survey reports.

Their reason for asking her to drop out? They said Robredo’s 24-percent rating in the last preference survey on the 10 presidential candidates (including them) showed her running a poor second to Marcos who had 56 percent.

Domagoso failed to see his own measly 8 percent and Lacson’s 2 percent. A third aspirant, former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, joined those pressuring Robredo, apparently thinking he had nothing to lose with his zero-percent rating in the same survey.

The three “losers” at the Pen had a hard time explaining how the withdrawal of Robredo, who was No. 2 in the survey, would improve the chances of the tailenders (Domagoso, Lacson and Gonzales) of grabbing the presidency from Marcos.

With his convoluted reasoning, Domagoso may have already lost his chance, if he had any at all, of getting elected president this year. Lacson’s presidential bid may have similarly evaporated.

*      *      *

Domagoso may have eliminated himself, not Robredo, from the race. But for needling the lady in pink who threatens to emerge as the last man left standing when the election dust settles, the mayor may have endeared himself to Marcos.

Viewing from a distance the Easter Sunday performance of the three “losers” at the presscon, we think they have effectively withdrawn or disqualified themselves from the presidential race.

Gonzales was luckier, and probably smarter, than the mayor and the senator. With his zero percent rating in the Pulse Asia survey, he looked like he had nothing to lose. Seizing the moment, he even floated a blanket application to serve on the Cabinet of the next president.

With the minor players thus eliminated, Marcos and Robredo are raring to race all the way to the finish line. The showdown looks like a return bout of sorts on a scale grander than their clash in 2016 for the vice presidency.

In the official canvass in 2016, Robredo was credited with 14,418,817 votes (35.11 percent), beating Marcos who had 14,155,344 votes (34.77 percent). She gained additional votes in the recount after Marcos protested her election.

*      *      *

Marcos has been dominating the pre-election surveys although Robredo continues to creep closer to passing him.

In the last Pulse Asia survey conducted March 17-21, preference for Marcos dropped to 56 percent from the 60 percent in the previous surveys in February, while that for Robredo jumped to 24 percent from 15 percent.

Trailing them in the March survey were Domagoso (8 percent), Sen. Manny Pacquiao (6 percent) and Lacson (2 percent). Gonzales, the third candidate present at the Manila Pen presscon, got zero votes.

Between February and March, preference for Marcos had gone down in all areas and socio-economic classes, with the biggest drop seen in Mindanao (from 68 percent to 62 percent) and among Class E respondents (from 58 percent to 52 percent).

Robredo’s 24 percent was the highest she ever got. Her previous high was 20 percent last December, followed by her rating dropping to 16 percent in January and to 15 percent in February.

*      *      *

In the March survey, only socio-economic Classes C, D and E were represented. Pulse Asia explained that Classes A and B have no impact on the overall results because their proportionate share of less than 1 percent was small.

Besides, Pulse Asia’s Research Director Ana Maria Tabunda said, “They live in gated subdivisions which do not allow interviewers’ access. They are also more likely to refuse to be interviewed.”

Based on demographic estimates, Class ABC represents only 8 percent, while Class D makes up the majority at 78 percent, and Class E accounts for 14 percent.

As the latest survey showed an upswing of 13 percentage points for Robredo (and a drop of 4 percentage points for Marcos), her camp expressed confidence that her momentum will continue to improve as shown in the growing size of her rally crowds and the infectious energy they generate.

Isko a stalking horse of BBM?

From our email box, meanwhile, we share this note from reader Gil Garcia:

“Marcos’ monitoring of electoral trends is causing nightmares for his campaign. Most likely, Leni has already overtaken his lead. They’ve even trolled Leni’s daughter, publishing fake sex photos of her. The backlash has worsened BBM’s image.

“His convictions, his pending US case, his alleged drug addiction, his do-nothing governorship of Ilocos Norte and evasion of paying the Marcos Estate tax for 10 years now – are wreaking havoc on his base.

“Isko has finally shown his real purpose for running. In a press conference with Lacson and another candidate to present their plans, Isko, out of the blue, surprised his fellow conferees by absurdly calling on Leni to back out! Many suspected him to be a stalking horse for BBM, by trying to steal votes from Leni. His non-apology, trying to rationalize his un-agreed insertion for Leni’s withdrawal in that press conference, fell flat.

“But even way before, when he announced his bid, people already suspected he was really a Duterte loyalist, with unholy intentions. He went to Davao, ostensibly to invite Sara to be his running mate. I think in his trip, he finalized not just how he could erode Leni’s voting base; he most likely also worked out the arithmetic with his secret sponsors.”

*      *      *

NB: All Postscripts are also archived at ManilaMail.com. Author is on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email: [email protected]

ISKO MORENO

LENI ROBREDO

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