Permutations are about variations on combinations in the field of statistics. Politics is about combinations as well. Possible pairings are Duterte-Marcos, Duterte-Go and Duterte-Villar, going by the power blocs which support the administration. 

The recent release of the Pahayag Vis-Min survey generated buzz on both traditional and social media from both political pundits and those who claim to be political strategists/operators because the last part of the poll was about Presidential and Vice-Presidential preference.

Pahayag has always been an independent survey run by PUBLiCUS Asia since its inception. Its main purpose is to find out the opinion of a select cross-section of the public about social and political issues confronting them. The results are made public for the same reason. It did hit a collective nerve because of the intensity of political partisanship at present, mainly due to the vested political interests having their wags and pundits operating in both traditional and social media.

The critics mostly focused on questioning its independence, survey methodology and sample size. You would think that most of these political "experts" are aware of the cost and logistics involved in conducting a survey covering a large sample area but they appear oblivious to both. As data is the new gold nowadays, the questions need to cover a broad range of issues for parts to be viable for companies in the fast moving consumer goods segment. This is how part of the cost is defrayed. Just to give the reader an idea, a survey and census of a particular segment in a closed environment with a population of ten thousand, would take more than a month to complete using a tablet where questions are answerable using check boxes.

What the pundits got wrong also was the meaning of the word preference. If they bothered to read the Executive Summary, it is clearly indicated that the question about Presidential and Vice-Presidential race was about the preference of respondents in the context of who they would likely vote for, with likely being the operative word. There is no certainty in likely as professional pollsters are well aware of.

The results showed the trend for a Daughterte-Duterte tandem which is actually not surprising, given the continued popularity of both Duterte peré et fillé. Inday Sara made her national political debut as the Campaign Manager of Hugpong ng Pagbabago during the midterm election. The President undertook the same role for his PDP-Laban Senatorial slate. 

Both parties shared a common set of adopted candidates save for some who were on one or the other slate and some who were absent from either. The results spoke for the drawing power of the Duterte brand as the opposition didn't manage to win a single seat, both for their neophytes and returning candidates, which resulted in the usual cacophony of fraud allegations after.

The political dynamic in the country has changed since the rise to prominence of the Duterte brand. The survey revealed the feasibility of a Paolo Duterte Senate run in the next election cycle. What irked those in the opposition more was the possibility of Duterte peré running for Vice-President. GMA broke the mold when she ran for Congress after stepping down as President in 2010.

Permutations are about variations on combinations in the field of statistics. Politics is about combinations as well. Possible pairings are Duterte-Marcos, Duterte-Go and Duterte-Villar, going by the power blocs which support the administration.

There is also the possibility of an Inday-Isko team-up if one is to think about continuity beyond 2028. It goes without saying that the probabilities will change again in the event Congress passes an amendment allowing voters to cas their ballots for a Presidential and Vice-Presidential tandem, in lieu of the current practice of voting independently for each post. This is the Cayetano Gambit.

But what if each of the pro-Duterte power blocs try to wrest power from the Presidential family and field their own candidates? This scenario opens up the possibilities of a Duterte-Go pairing, a Marcos-Villar ticket and a possible Isko-Sotto pairing. In politics, nothing is etched in stone and there are no permanent enemies, only permanent interests and the contenders will only be known by October 2021, the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy.

What is certain at this point is the Duterte brand equity is hard to beat and even a split in the administration power blocs will not result in a victory for the opposition.

The New Year will be interesting because the President will have to seriously consider his legacy. With the knowledge that his political capital is intact, he may decide to pursue his Federalism agenda. There is also the proposed amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution. It hasn't been wise to second-guess the President as he is notoriously unpredictable. What is certain is the need for continuity and the President is in the position to anoint his successor with a more than even chance of victory in 2022.

About the Author
RG is a seasoned international trade and sales and marketing professional who also dabbles in writing. He was a contributor to Business World in the mid-90s and is also a tech geek.
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