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Opinion

Will Duterte’s unconventional political strategy still work?

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

Seasoned politicians in both local and national elections employ different political strategies in different political seasons and scenarios. They seem to be just like playing the game of chess.

The likes of senators Antonio Trillanes, Alan Peter Cayetano, Richard Gordon, etc. first floated their names to be running for president in the 2022 election. Yet they ended up running for a lower position

Such kind of strategy can maximize media mileage. Their names become the talk of the town. They can test the waters well. If people accept the idea, then they can pursue their plans. But if not, they can run for a lower position, saying that they will abide by the will of the people, or give way to other more acceptable candidates. Either way, they ended up gaining by exploiting such strategy.

President Rodrigo Duterte employed a totally different strategy in 2016 election. He projected himself as a hesitant candidate. He did not even file his certificate of candidacy within the filing period, yet he availed of substitution at the last hour. Such tactics maximized media mileage too.

Apart from maximizing media mileage, Duterte learned some lessons from Senator Manny Villar and Vice President Jejomar Binay in the past elections. The two used the conventional way of announcing early their plans to run for president.

I think the two believed in the saying “early birds catch more worms”. In their view, it was advantageous to have ample time to prepare and get the commitments of leaders nationwide. The problem was that they were the worms, not the birds!

Because they divulged their plans very early, they were targeted by investigations that eventually damaged their names. Villar suffered from the issue on C5 road scandal and Binay did not escape from the shocking corruption issues in Makati City.

When Duterte decided to run for president at the last hour, there was no more time to make him a target of investigations as everyone was already busy for the campaign period, and he ended up winning.

Observing the different strategies, Mayor Sara Duterte --granting she is running-- is brilliant enough to apply once again the successful technique used by her father. Let us see this time if the same will still be effective given the different sets of candidates, different scenarios, and different political seasons.

Remember that in 2016 when Duterte projected himself as a hesitant candidate, he started with a low rating and ascended when he finally ran. This time, Sara started with the highest rating among the presidential candidates based on surveys but those ratings recently started to drop.

Unlike her father, Sara projecting herself as a hesitant candidate might have a different effect. It might jeopardize the momentum of support on the side of the Duterte supporters. Note that Sara’s 28% rating in June shockingly went down to 20% in September.

We expect a lot of surprises in the final day of substitution. If Sara will stand by her statement that she will not run, then it will become a level playing field for the rest of the candidates. However, if she changes heart, the possible scenario is her ratings will bounce back, or it will continue to drop, to no one’s fault, except hers.

If Sara doesn’t run, where will her votes go? They might go to Bongbong Marcos as he is second in the survey already. A big number of Duterte supporters are also Marcos supporters. The votes may also go to Isko Moreno who has displayed his strong leadership as mayor, or to Lacson whose leadership was tested as PNP chief. Manny Pacquiao may also get a share. That Sara is a woman and a lawyer may also be a factor for Leni.

Indeed, politics has a lot of scenarios and every second counts.

ELECTION
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