The present landscape for the 2019 National Elections

In the end, candidates are only penultimate winners and/or losers. The Filipino people, ultimately, are bound to gain and/or lose the most in an election.

In the next couple of days, aspirants for the 2019 National Elections will be filing their Certificates of Candidacies (COCs) before the Commission on Elections. The campaign period for national candidates will commence only by 12 February 2019, which is 90 days before the scheduled election day on 13 May 2019 as mandated by the Omnibus Election Code. However, in the forthcoming days, it is expected that infomercials will flood our television sets and airwaves as potential national candidates seek to introduce themselves to a broader segment of the voting populace.

At this point, voters may already have an idea of the personalities they want to elect for the forthcoming senatorial elections. The regularly published opinion polls by Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia Research on senatorial preferences provide us a sneak peek on the voting behavior of a segment of our country's voting population. Although there are indications that only about 20-25 potential candidates have realistic chances of landing in the so-called "Magic 12," come-from-behind victories are not remote especially if the result of the 2016 Presidential elections is to be considered. President Rodrigo Duterte climbed from 4th in the 4Q/2015 polls to 1st by 2Q/2016, on his way to securing the country's presidency with a margin of less than 7 million votes from his nearest contender come election day.

The configuration of political coalitions, as of this writing, remains bleak. While PDP-Laban is widely recognized as the administration party, the emergence of Presidential daughter Sara Duterte's Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) as a powerhouse regional party has attracted aspiring national and local candidates to join the flock. In fact, several national and regional parties have already pledged their support to HNP. It remains to be seen whether President Duterte will endorse a full slate or declare a free-for-all, given the number of candidates who intend to run under the administration banner. Recently, the Liberal Party, which is the recognized opposition party, has announced the senatorial candidacies of Sen. Bam Aquino, former Rep. Erin Tanada and Human Rights Advocate Chel Diokno. It will also be interesting to find out how the five incumbent Senators eligible for re-election (i.e. Sens. Poe, Villar, Binay, Angara, Ejercito) will position themselves in terms of political affiliation come 2019.

Most importantly, the voting tendencies of the general public cannot be predicted. Voters preferences typically vary based on issues, and propaganda. Social media, which is considered an influential medium, tends to be inconsistent as far as vote delivery is concerned. In 2010 and 2016, social media played a critical role in the campaigns of former Pres. Noynoy Aquino and current Pres. Rody Duterte. However, in the 2013 elections, it was also important to note that Sen. Nancy Binay placed high in the senatorial rankings despite the bashing she constantly received at that time from netizens. Fatigue may also be setting in among voters as far as political advertisements on television are concerned. It can be remembered that Sen. Manny Villar only came 3rd in the 2010 Presidential Elections despite his numerous infomercials and catchy jingles.

The situation remains very much fluid as far as the lead-up to the 2019 National Elections is concerned. There will be a constant back-and-forth in terms of political maneuvering and strategy between all contending parties.

Nevertheless, the elections present another opportunity for our people to show their political maturity. In the end, candidates are only penultimate winners and/or losers. The Filipino people, ultimately, are bound to gain and/or lose the most in an election.

About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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