Will it be a tight presidential race in 2016?

FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras - The Freeman

There is an 80% probability that Grace Poe and Digong Duterte will be allowed to run in the 2016 elections. Over the years the Supreme Court has taken wide latitude in its decisions that at times encroached on the legislative and the executive boundaries.

The Supreme Court decision allowing Estrada to run again for election in 2007 and 2010 is a case in point; on how the Supreme Court liberally interpreted the Constitution to allow Estrada to run, after a conviction and the presidential pardon. A stricter interpretation could have been made to prohibit Estrada from running, and had it been for a lower position and a less powerful politician, I am quite sure the Supreme Court would have ruled against a candidate who had been convicted of a crime even if he was pardoned.

Again, as I have mentioned in an earlier column, the Philippines already had nine Constitutions, so Constitutions are meant to be updated and revised to reflect the will of the people in changing times. In the last 20 years, I also remember two (2) Supreme Court decisions that were really an overreached on their part. One was the reversal of an award of the Manila Hotel which was legitimately won in a fair bidding, and another was a Supreme Court decision on the location of the country's first Petrochemical Plant. The Supreme Court gives itself too much power in interpreting the limits of its power. It makes it narrow or wide depending on its inclination and on the issues and personalities at hand. The case of Poe and Duterte is right in this alley.

The current situation of Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, is something that we should also consider in relation to the Poe dilemma. Ang Suu's party took a large majority of the parliament in their last election, can form the ruling government and elect the Prime Minister. It so happens that the present Myanmar Constitution prohibits her from being elected as Prime Minister because her husband was a foreigner. But everyone in Myanmar knows and had accepted the fact that even if she is not elected as the Prime Minister, she will be the major influence and will be calling the shots in the running of Myanmar. The parliament will probably amend the Constitution in due time, but in the meantime she is the "de facto" Prime Minister.

The latest SWS survey in December shows Poe and Binay tied at 26 percent, Mar Roxas at 22 percent, and Duterte at 20 percent. Eliminating the survey done by Pulse Asia, where there was the leading question with Duterte's name, but using the other Pulse Asia December survey; the trajectory or slope of Roxas and Duterte had the best improvement. Poe and Binay's slope had flattened, and at a plus or minus 3 percent margin of error, the four candidates are practically within spitting distance of each other. There will be a January and February surveys, but the March and the April surveys will be the most important and the telling survey that will predict the eventual winner. There will be minor and major events that will affect the candidates' ratings, some more propelling or damaging. So the candidates strategy is to avoid major blunders or errors.

For Poe, it will be handling the Supreme court decision, for Roxas it will be the satisfaction rating of the outgoing Pnoy Aquino presidency, for Duterte keeping in the limelight, and for Binay staying out of jail. The still high satisfaction rating of the current administration and the 90 percent hopefulness of the Filipinos for 2016 will be good for Roxas, the favorable Supreme Court decisions for Poe and Duterte will be good for them, but a Binay arraignment for graft and corruption or plunder will be bad for him.

In the vice presidential race, whoever wins the presidency will probably carry his or her running mate in such a close race. The slope of Robredo and Cayetano follows the slope of Roxas and Duterte which supports our correlation analysis of the presidential candidates. But we have again to look for the February and March surveys to see if this will hold. If it does, then we are in for a very tight and close presidential race with the winner having a margin of less than two (2) million votes.

The good thing about Duterte's questioning Roxas Wharton credential which was resolved that Roxas is indeed a Wharton graduate, is that it also clarified that Bongbong Marcos did not graduate from Oxford and Wharton but got Certificates of Attendance, and that Ralph Recto did not finish his Masters of Public Administration degree in UAP. These were verified by Rappler with the educational institutions and categorical documented replies were provided by Oxford, Wharton, and UAP. These should be lessons learned for all would be politicians about fudging their credentials.



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