To lead the way, hit them all

IT would seem that in order to be the leader of the pack, the Liberal Party has adopted the stance of trying to hit everyone when it can and leaving enough room to further rein in the opponents for 2016. The call of winning at all cost has reached the decibel level that one can penetrate the glass cover of all potential candidates for 2016.

IT would seem that in order to be the leader of the pack, the Liberal Party has adopted the stance of trying to hit everyone when it can and leaving enough room to further rein in the opponents for 2016. The call of winning at all cost has reached the decibel level that one can penetrate the glass cover of all potential candidates for 2016.

It all started with Vice President Binay who declared early on that he is running for the presidency as early as 2010. The old issues were raked up and a script readied early on painted the VP as being corrupt and cannot be trusted what with billions of pesos siphoned off. The issues were not raised during the campaign of 2010 but it showed its ugly head via the 25 hearings in the Senate, for over a year ago today. Because of the hearings, the preference for the VP sunk. They were enough to cause a doubt among voters that the VP can’t be trusted.

Then came the hit against Senator Grace Poe who was courted publicly by the LP anointed. She was very popular and the formula being pushed was secure a poplar VP candidate and the anointed of the Liberal Party could make it to the top. It was a strategy totally not borne by the conventional wisdom that Filipinos love a split ticket. Never have the voters voted for a presidential and vice presidential candidate coming from the same party. When Poe was being courted the issues that were thrown against her were non-issues when in fact the residential and citizenship requirements for president and vice President are the same. When Poe rejected the offer to be VP, the cadre of black operators went to overdrive. By the time Poe declared her intent to run, she was already damaged good, driving a wedge to a very popular name and image. The perception was, voters cannot trust Poe because she lied and because she renounced. Her almost 50% preference skidded to what it is today, a statistical tie with the decimated Binay and the anointed Roxas. As has been said, the highs of Poe will ultimately seek its natural base after 3-5 survey runs, with the vicious attacks.

Then came Davao’s Duterte who has adapted a strange strategy of teasing the public and gaining interests as we move closer to filing. Duterte has changed the terrain since with him, Mindanao becomes his electoral base as well as eat on the support base of Bisayan speaking voters. Duterte’s tease is very strategic considering the behavior of LP against its declared enemies. True, he said his “no” early on but the sudden donation from an anonymous donor and the Luneta event that was not covered by media have resulted in Duterte making a final announcement very near the filing has saved him from the heaps of mud emanating from the yellow camp doing kids play. The one thing the yellow tribe touched which was a no-no to the likes of a Duterte was make a medical story that the Dirty Harry of Davao had a medical situation. This was a fabrication but it hit the heart of Duterte because it was very near family and to the mayor, family should be out of the radar screen of operators. Interestingly, he was the only non-declared candidate who threatened the LP anointed to be careful or else, a pineapple can be launched against Roxas that could expose the latter to some character issue.

Then the “never again” offensive against Sen. Bongbong Marcos (BBM) came to fore. Thinking that Marcos will throw his hat on the presidential derby, a media offensive on the brand Marcos started latter part of August, owing to EDSA’s Aquino on the death anniversaries of the mother and father of the incumbent that contrasted it from the Marcoses, which uncannily holds sway during the month of September. Never again echoed and drilled on the Marcoses. Most especially the Junior, a storyline was developed that all Marcoses should be blamed for the sins of the patriarch. With the die cast, BBM could have actively taken the upper hand in the framing but he chose the other route, talk about the successes of his father’s almost 20 year rule and showed his mettle with issues of the day, a good triangulation exercise. Early on, the issue of academic achievement was also pried open. A zinger that got the younger Marcos on the defensive.

Interestingly, no bombs were thrown against Nacionalista Alan Peter Cayetano and Sonny Trillanes, the henchmen of the pervasive dark knight patrolling the shores to protect the annointed’s base. Decimate the opponents for the crown and “we level the playing field.” Truly, an interesting offensive strategy instead of pushing and taking the high moral ground, the cabals of the anointed had to do special ops early on to prevent runaways. Will this strategy hold?

The anointment gave Roxas the bump, as predicted by all, but it only brought him to a statistical tie with the declared candidates. The next bump, as designed, would be the VP pick. Surely Roxas will get a bump from a Robredo nod but a Cayetano would result in a lot of explaining to the LP base. A Robredo run for the VP would pit her with a fellow Bicolano in the Poe ticket. Robredo might be the sentimental favorite but in a transactional mode, Escodero can win, burning all.

A Binay-BBM ticket on the other hand, consolidates Northern Luzon and the heartlands of Luzon. With BBM, it likewise awakens the sleeping Ilocano cells, predominantly in Mindanao. A Binay-Honasan splits Bicol into 3 and could further weaken the transactional base of an Escudero. A Duterte-Cayetano, seals Mindanao, secures some of NCR and Bulacan as well as Cebu, the perceived strength of a Cayetano.

All those hit early might just exact revenge in the unfolding chapters, from the filing to the starting line against the anointed who seems willing to take the bullets aimed at the administration for its sins of commission and omission. If this happens, we will see the most muddied campaign ever. If the declared presidential candidates plus the man from Mindanao decides to elevate political discourse to a higher plane, voters will see the more mature and statesman like qualities of what it takes to be president, a clear difference from the anointed one’s negative strategies. The more government resources and beneficiaries of programs are used by the party-in-government, the more one can see who is doing a double deal.

Adlai Stevenson once said, “I’m not an old, experienced hand at politics. But I am now seasoned enough to have learned that the hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.” And so the real battle unfolds.


Published in Manila Times on September 28, 2015:

About the Author
Malou Tiqiua is the Founder/General Manager of PUBLiCUS Asia Inc. A noted political management expert in the Philippines and Asia, she brings over 20 years of professional experience in public, private and the academe combined. Author of the comprehensive book on electoral campaigns in the Philippines, "Campaign Politics", Malou is a graduate of the University of the Philippines with a Political Science degree and a Master of Public Administration. She completed her second master's degree (MA in Political Management) from the Graduate School of Political Management, George Washington University.
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