NP VS LP: THEN AND NOW

Politics

NP VS LP: THEN AND NOW

No Comments 27 April 2010

By Leandro Milan

Before the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos imposed martial law in September 1972, there were only two dominant political parties that took turns at the helm of the state from the time the country gained independence, namely, the Nacionalista Party and the Liberal Party. Occasionally, a third force or independent candidate would challenge the stranglehold of the two giants but not one had succeeded in disturbing the two-party system in place.

Founded in 1907, Partido Nacionalista or Nacionalista Party (NP) is the oldest political party in the country. The Partido Liberal or Liberal Party (LP) was formed in 1946 by a breakaway group from the NP led by then Senate President Manuel Roxas. Nacionalista stalwarts who became presidents of the country were Manuel Quezon, Jose Laurel, Sergio Osmeña, Ramon Magsaysay, Carlos Garcia and Ferdinand Marcos. Philippine presidents from the LP camp included Roxas, Elpidio Quirino and Diosdado Macapagal. Marcos was LP president from 1961 to 1964; he joined NP and became its standard bearer in the 1965 presidential election when then President Macapagal, father of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, decided to run for a second term. Other notable LP leaders were former senators Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and Gerardo Roxas, whose respective sons – incumbent senators Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and Manuel “Mar” Araneta II – are now the party’s top bets in the May 10 election.

In the post-Marcos era, the multi-party system was introduced ostensibly to open up the electoral process to more groups and give the electorate a wider menu of choices. New political parties sprouted, and the LP and NP became inconsequential. In 1992, Fidel Ramos of the then newly-formed Lakas-NUCD party won over Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who ran under the fledgling People’s Reform Party. Another newcomer, Nationalist People’s Coalition, fielded businessman Eduardo Cojuangco, who came in third. In 1998, Joseph Estrada was swept into power through the combined effort of two small parties — his own Partido ng Masang Pilipino and his running mate Edgardo Angara’s Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP). In 2004, President Arroyo ran under the Lakas-NUCD banner, defeating Fernando Poe Jr., the standard bearer of the umbrella group Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino.

The comeback kids

During the past few years, however, there has been a gradual tectonic shift in the political landscape. Through the rebuilding efforts of a new generation of leaders, the dominant parties of pre-martial law era have posted significant strides in regaining their old glory. Senator Mar Roxas has taken over from the party’s sole remaining Old Guard, the venerable Jovito Salonga. On the Nacionalista side, former Vice President Salvador Laurel passed the baton to Senator Manuel Villar, who used his vast personal wealth and political savvy to turn the NP into what is now acknowledged as the most organized political machinery in the country. The LP and NP are back in their old form and if the results of the most recent nationwide surveys of the country’s leading pollsters (Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia) are an indication, the 2010 presidential race has become a three-man race among Aquino, Villar and Estrada.

True, the political landscape is still littered with post-Marcos parties and alliances – Lakas-Kampi, NPC, PMP, LDP, PDP-Laban, KBL, Aksyon Demokratiko, Ang Kapatiran, PRP, UNO. The two pro-administration parties – Lakas and Kampi – got even bigger and stronger (at least on paper) when they coalesced a few months ago. But the impending end of President Arroyo’s term and her negative popularity ratings have struck fear and anxiety among party members. The ruling party is fast disintegrating and could fill up only five slots for the 12-man senatorial slate.

Lakas-Kampi disintegrates

Massive defections have rocked the ruling party in recent weeks and the biggest beneficiaries have been the LP and NP. The most notable Lakas defectors to the Liberal party are Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte, who used to senior vice president of Lakas; Misamis Occidental Governor Loreto Ocampos, president of the League of Provinces of the Philippines and a member of the ruling party’s national executive committee; ex-senator Ralph Recto, who only a year ago was in the Arroyo Cabinet; and Akbay Gov. Joey Salceda, an economic adviser of President Arroyo. Recto was joined by his wife, Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, who was heavily wooed by the administration to be the running mate of Teodoro. The more prominent NP recruits from Lakas-NUCD include former Ilocos Sur Gov. Chavit Singson, Camarines Gov. L-Ray Villafuerte, Bukidnon Gov. Jose Zubiri, Surigao del Norte Gov. Robert Ace Barbers and Cebu Congressmen Pablo Garcia and Eduardo Gullas. Many more congressmen, governors, mayors and councilors have formed a bee line to the camps of Aquino and Villar, the two leading presidential hopefuls.

The Nationalist People’s Coalition, the vehicle of Danding Cojuangco for his losing presidential bid in 1992, is also showing signs of collapse. Its brightest hope in 2010, Senator Francis Escudero, abruptly quit NPC last October, leaving the party in disarray and without a presidential candidate. Escudero has since abandoned his presidential ambitions in 2010. The presumed NPC bet for vice president, Senator Loren Legarda, was forced to eat her words and swallow her pride and partnered with erstwhile nemesis Villar. Earlier, of course, there was the defection of no less than Danding’s favorite nephew, Gibo Teodoro, to Lakas-Kampi. With Danding’s advancing age and reported failing health, the NPC faces a bleak future.

Estrada’s PMP has never been a strong political party. Even during Estrada’s abbreviated presidency, PMP did not gain a strong nationwide following. The party suffers from lack of credibility, for while it espouses a pro-poor agenda, its leader is living it up in the company of unsavory characters – from drinking buddies and women to gamblers and vested interests.

Personality-oriented

Like NPC and PMP, the other parties are nominal groups whose existence is co-terminus with the political future of their patrons because they are very much identified with personalities rather than an ideology. The names and faces of their patrons are indelibly etched on the parties: Danding on NPC, Estrada on PMP, Angara on LDP, Marcos on KBL, Santiago on PRP, Villanueva on Bangon Pilipinas. Only the Nacionalista and Liberal parties have endured the test of time. But just the same, all the different parties remain mainly personality-oriented; their platforms are all loaded with similar motherhood statements. This explains why party loyalty is a cheap commodity in the country. Politicians seamlessly and shamelessly switch parties largely on the basis of self interest.

In a recent column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, UP Professor Randy David offers an insightful and informed view of our political parties: “As it is, none of the leading presidential candidates can claim to stake their candidacies on the drawing power and record of their respective political parties. Their parties are nothing more than brand names that carry little weight, with no distinct political philosophy or ideology. This accounts for the ease with which politicians of varying, and often conflicting, persuasions and backgrounds are sworn into the same party. Nothing coherent binds them together. In truth, these so-called parties are nothing but coalitions of convenience, provisional alliances forged by practical considerations rather than by enduring principles.”

IN PHOTO: LP standard bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III and running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas II flash the Laban sign after filing their certificates of candidacy.

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AQUINO OPENS UP 9-POINT LEAD OVER VILLAR

Politics

AQUINO OPENS UP 9-POINT LEAD OVER VILLAR

No Comments 28 March 2010

Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” C. Aquino III has opened up a nine-point lead over his nearest rival for the presidency, fellow legislator and Nacionalista Party bet Sen. Manuel “Manny” B. Villar, Jr., based on the results of the latest BusinessWorld-Social Weather Stations Pre-Election Survey.

Aquino picked up a point to score 37% and further benefited from a six-point loss for Villar, now at 28%, in the March 19-22 poll conducted just before campaigning for local posts began last March 26. The gap between the two frontrunners was just two points, within the error margins used, a month earlier.

Former President Joseph M. “Erap” Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, meanwhile, gained four points to 19%, narrowing his gap with Villar to nine points from 19 previously.

Administration candidate Gilberto “Gibo” C. Teodoro, Jr. of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD remained in single digit territory with his score staying at 6%.  FULL STORY

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INTERESTING FACES AND RACES IN MAY POLLS

Politics

INTERESTING FACES AND RACES IN MAY POLLS

No Comments 21 March 2010

By Leandro Milan

The biggest, most star-studded and spectacular circus is coming to town!

Consider some of the dramatis personae in the next House of Representatives: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Imelda Marcos, Manny Pacquiao and Vilma Santos. It surely promises to be a controversy-laden and an action-filled chamber, where impeachment plots are hatched and the pork barrel is cut up and doled out.

The Senate is no less colorful and dazzling. Movie actors Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla and Lito Lapid, whose performances in the Upper House are definitely below Famas standards, are making a comeback. Other contenders include coup leaders Danilo Lim and Ariel Querubin, who are running on rival tickets; and militant Leftists Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza, and the late dictator’s son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., strange bedfellows in the Nacionalista Party. Two outgoing senators have tapped their children to continue their legacy – Ruffy, congressman-son of Rodolfo Biazon, and Gwendolyn, daughter of Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

It is in the local contests in the provinces where the political cauldron will reach blistering levels. It is here where electoral battles between families and clans are fiercest and often defined by the three G’s: guns, gold and goons. Most of the protagonists are familiar names that have become associated with political dynasties. In some cases it’s a free-for-all among clan members when there are not enough posts for everyone. Many of the contests are a replay of past encounters between the scions and dummies of the moneyed elite.

Biggest shocker

The biggest shocker of the electoral season, of course, is the declaration of President Arroyo that she is running for the congressional seat of the second district of Pampanga, which is currently held by her older son, Jose Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo. (Her youngest son, Diosdado Ignacio “Dato”, is gunning a second term as congressman of the first district of Camarines Sur. How he ended up in Bicol is another story.)  Needless to say, it’s a walk in the park for Mrs. Arroyo, who said she would remain in her post until her term expires on June 30, 2010. She is up against three unknown opponents.

Mikey, who joked that he had been “eased” out of a reelection bid, has been named as the first nominee of the party-list Ang Galing Party (AGP). He said at least five party-list groups have offered him a slot as their nominee. Mikey’s party-list bid drew this reaction from Liberal Party senatorial candidate and Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros: “They’re elevating this shameless craving for political power to a different, legendary level. We might as well give it a name, and call it ‘Arroyotitis’.”

Hontiveros added: “Like mother, like son. Obviously, Arroyotitis is hereditary. Masyado naman silang naghahabol ng pwesto. Gusto nila kunin ang pagka-Prime Minister, President, Speaker, at limang seats sa Kongreso. Kulang na lang baguhin nila ang ating batas para makatakbo si Mikey ng SK (Sangguniang Kabatan).”

There are two other relatives in the House: the President’s brother-in-law, Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo, and sister-in-law Ang Kasangga party-list Rep. Lourdes Arroyo.

The fight for the Pampanga gubernatorial post will be a rematch between the Liberal Party (LP) bet, reformist priest-turned politician Gov. Ed Panlilio, and Lakas-Kampi candidate Lilia Pineda, wife of alleged jueteng lord Bong Pineda and a staunch ally of Mrs. Arroyo. In February, the Comelec’s Second Division nullified Panlilio’s 2007 victory and proclaimed Pineda as the rightful winner.

Solid North face-offs

Another sitting governor and LP candidate, Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca, was earlier ousted by the poll body’s Second Division earlier in December. The polio-stricken former radio broadcaster who ended the Dy’s 30-year reign in the province in 2004 when she trounced then governor Faustino Dy Jr., is facing in May another member of the Dy clan, Isabela Rep. Faustino Dy III. In 2007, Padaca, a Ramon Magsaysay awardee for government service in 2008, defeated another Dy clan member, former governor Benjamin Dy. Faustino Jr, Faustino III and Benjamin are brothers.

Over in Ilocos Norte, the Marcoses are once again flexing their political muscle. The former First Lady is seeking to take over the congressional post of the second district, now occupied by her son Bongbong, who is running for senator. Eldest daughter Imee Marcos-Manotoc is eyeing the top provincial post against her first cousin, incumbent Gov. Michael Keon. Two old hands – former governor Rodolfo Fariñas and former congressman Roquito Ablan Jr. — are slugging it out for the congressional post in the first district.

In the 2007 fight for Pangasinan’s fourth district congressional seat, then-Speaker Jose de Venecia trounced Dagupan City Mayor Benjamin Lim. This time, it will be the turn of their wives to face each other. Gina de Venecia and Celia Lim will re-ignite their husband’s rivalry that began in 2001.

Metro match-ups

In the Manila mayoralty race, incumbent Mayor Alfredo Lim is facing his old nemesis, former mayor Lito Atienza, who is currently secretary of natural resources. The two used to be allies; they won as a tandem in 1992 and 1995 (Lim was mayor and Atienza was vice mayor). Atienza took over when Lim unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in 1998. Later, the two parted ways and they tangled for the mayoral post in 2001, which Atienza won. In 2007, Lim resigned his Senate post and went on to regain his old post against Atienza’s son, Ali.

In Makati, long-time Mayor and vice presidential candidate Jojo Binay had a falling out with erstwhile allies Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado, ex-Rep. Butz Aquino and Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin. Mercado and Aquino are both running for mayor against Binay’s son, Junjun, a councilor. Locsin has sided with Mercado and fielded his wife Louie to take over his congressional seat.

In San Juan, the bailiwick of former President Joseph Estrada, the ousted president’s mistress, Guia Gomez, seeks to take over the mayoral post from incumbent Mayor JV Ejercito, her son by Estrada. JV, in turn, is running for the lone congressional seat to be vacated by erstwhile Estrada ally Ronaldo Zamora.

In Parañaque, actor and former mayor Joey Marquez is making a comeback at city hall. He is facing incumbent Mayor Jun Bernabe and outgoing congressman Eduardo Zialcita. His estranged wife, Alma Moreno, is returning as councilor but under a rival group.

Free-for-all in Cebu

In Cebu, there are two simultaneous wars going on – one, between the Garcia and Osmeña clans and the other one is between Osmeña family members. Over the last several years, the Garcias have eclipsed the dominance of the Osmeñas in Cebu. Incumbent Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, the province’s first woman governor, was first elected in 2004 and got reelected in 2007. She is favored to win a third term in May 2010 against allies of the Osmeñas. The Garcia patriarch, Pablo, is seeking reelection as congressman of the second district. His son Pablo John is also running for another term as congressman of the third district. Former Cebu City Mayor Alvin Garcia, a cousin of the Cebu governor, is seeking to reclaim his old seat but under a rival party.

Outgoing Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña is fielding Vice Mayor Michael Rama to succeed him. The mayor’s wife, Margot, was endorsed by various groups to replace her husband but decided to run for a council seat instead. But Tomas’ younger sister, Georgia, could not be stopped in her mayoral bid.

The Osmeña internecine feud has spilled over to the national arena. Cousins Sergio III (Serge), a former senator, and Emilio Jr. (Lito), a former governor, are both running for senator. This could prove disastrous to both because a vote for “Osmeña” will be will not be counted as there are two candidates with the same surname.

The protagonists are third generation members of the Osmeña clan, whose patriarch was the former president, Sergio Osmeña. Two of Sergio’s sons are Emilio and Sergio Jr. (Serging), who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1969 against Ferdinand Marcos. John and Lito are sons of Emilio; Serge, Tomas and Georgia are children of Serging.

Duel in Davao

A bitter electoral battle is also shaping up down in Davao City between City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and House of Representatives Speaker Prospero Nograles Jr. Duterte, dubbed “The Punisher” by Time magazine for his tough stance against crime, is on his third and last term. His daughter, Sara – the incumbent vice mayor – is running to replace her father; the elder Duterte will run for vice mayor.

Nograles, who is also on his last term as congressman of Davao City, is challenging the younger Durete for the mayoral seat. His running mate is former mayor Benjamin de Guzman, who used to be a protégé of Duterte. Nograles’ son Karlo, meanwhile is eyeing to take over his father’s congressional seat.

Over in Saranggani province, boxing idol Manny Pacquiao isn’t content being just the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer, he wants also to be known as “The Gentleman from Saranggani.” He is running for the province’s lone congressional seat against incumbent Rep. Roy Chiongbian, who belongs to a wealthy clan in the province. Whether Pacman’s latest string of victories will be enough to propel him to Congress this time is another story. In his first congressional bid in 2007 in General Santos City, he lost to the incumbent, Darlene Antonino-Custodio.

Vilma, Chavit, Jocjoc

Other prominent movie celebrities in the fray include reelectionist Governor Vilma Santos in Batangas; Cesar Montano, who is running for governor in Bohol; and Christopher de Leon, who is seeking a board member seat in Batangas. Actor Richard Gomez has appealed his disqualification by the Comelec from his candidacy for the congressional seat of Ormoc City on account of his being a resident of Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. Ormoc City is hometown of his wife Lucy.

Broadcaster Jay Sonza and former Jukebox Queen Imelda Papin are running for vice president and senator, respectively, under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, the party founded by Ferdinand Marcos. The pair refers to themselves as Mel and Jay, which was the title of the defunct TV show that featured Jay and GMA-7 news anchor Mel Tiangco.

Former Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson is out to reclaim his old post which he last held from 1992 to 2001. His son, Ronald, is running for reelection as congressman of the first district of the province.

With their boss’ imminent departure from Malacanang, several Cabinet members are seeking congressional posts: Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita in Batangas, Justice Secretary Agnes Devenadera in Quezon, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap in Bohol and Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. in Camarines Sur.

Other Palace officials in the electoral fray are Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, for president, MMDA chair Bayani Fernando for vice president, Secretary of Public Works Hermogenes Ebdane for Zambales governor, Tesda director general Augusto Syjuco for congressman in Iloilo, and PNR chair Michael Defensor for mayor of Quezon City.

Rounding off the cast of characters are personalities who are known more for their notoriety than for integrity or nobility. There is former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante, the alleged architect of the P728-million fertilizer scam, who is running for governor of Capiz. It will be recalled that the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee had conducted an inquiry into the anomaly and recommended the filing of plunder charges against Bolante, a close friend of First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.

And in Maguindanao, 10 members of the Ampatuan clan implicated in the Maguindanao massacre, are candidates for various local positions. According to Comelec records, 68 Ampatuans are running in this year’s election – 50 of them carry the surname and 18 others use Ampatuan as middle name. Of the 50, at least 23 candidates are directly related to Andal Ampatuan, Sr., the former governor of Maguindanao who is alleged to the brains behind the Maguindanao massacre.

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TRACKING THE NUMBERS

Politics

TRACKING THE NUMBERS

1 Comment 15 March 2010

The shifting moods of the electorate are mirrored in the results of the surveys on the presidential and vice presidential preferences in the May 10 elections by the country’s leading pollsters, Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia, from late last year up to end of  February. With two months to go before D-Day, Noynoy Aquino and Manny Villar are locked in a neck-and-neck battle. It remains to be seen which weapon will prove mightier in the end – Cory’s magic or Manny’s millions. (See related story – Too Close to Call.)

PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCES FOR 2010 ELECTIONS

SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS

Nov 4-8

Dec 5-10

Dec 27-28

Jan 21-24

Feb 24-28

Benigno Aquino

47

46.2

44 42 36

Manuel Villar

20

27

33 35 34

Joseph Estrada

12 16 15 13 15

Gilbert Teodoro

3

4.6

5 4 6

Ed Villanueva

1

1.1

1 2 3

Richard Gordon

0.5

0.9

0.5 2 2

Jamby Madrigal

0.4 0.2 0.4 0.4 0.1

PULSE ASIA

Oct 22-30 Dec 8-10 Jan 22-26 Feb 21-25

Benigno Aquino

44 45 37 36

Manuel Villar

19 23 35 29

Joseph Estrada

11 19 12 18

Gilbert Teodoro

2 5 5 7

Ed Villanueva

1 1 2 2

Richard Gordon

__ 1 1 1

Jamby Madrigal

__ __ 0.5 0.3

VICE PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCES

SOCIAL WEATHER STATIONS

Nov 4-8 Dec 5-10 Jan 21-24 Feb 24-28

Mar Roxas

31 43 49 45

Loren Legarda

__ 32 28 28

Jejomar Binay

__ 10 16 17

Edu Manzano

__ 3 2 3

B. Fernando

__ 2 2 2

Perfecto Yasay

__ 0.1 0.4 0.4

PULSE ASIA

Oct 22-30 Dec 8-10 Jan 22-26 Feb 21-25

Mar Roxas

37 39 47 43

Loren Legarda

23 37 28 27

Jejomar Binay

13 14 13 15

Edu Manzano

__ 2 2 2

B. Fernando

1 2 2 4

Perfecto Yasay

__ __ 1 1

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TOO CLOSE TO CALL

Politics

TOO CLOSE TO CALL

1 Comment 10 March 2010

It’s a very tight two-man contest for the presidency, according to the latest survey.

Going into the last two months the campaign, Liberal Party standard bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III maintained a two-digit lead over closest rival, Sen.  Manuel Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party.

The latest survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) from Feb. 24 to 28 showed Aquino’s lead down to only 2 percentage points, with Aquino at 36% and Villar at 34%. (See related story – Tracking the Numbers.)

“We’re saying it’s a 2-point lead [in the latest survey],” said SWS president Mahar Mangahas. “We’re not calling it a tie. To say that it is a tie is to lean toward one side. So we’re not calling it a tie unless it is the exact same point.”

He said the correct way of interpreting the results of the latest survey is that, given the margin of error of 2%,  it’s either a statistical tie or that Aquino has a 4-percentage-point lead.

But what is clear, he added, is that there has been a consistent decline in support for Aquino based on the four presidential surveys conducted by SWS from December 5-10, 2009 to February 24-28 2010.

Aquino’s lead over Villar was 19 points in December 5-10, 2009, 11 points in December 27-28, 2009, 7 points in January 21-24, 2010, and 2 points in February 24-28.

Other contenders

Trailing the front-runners were former President Joseph Estrada (15 percent, up 2 points), former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro (6 percent, also up 2 points), Bro. Eddie Villanueva (3 percent, up 1 point), Sen. Richard Gordon (2 percent, no change), Nicanor Perlas (0.2 percent), Olongapo Councilor JC de los Reyes (0.1 percent) and Sen. Jamby Madrigal (0.1 percent).

SWS said the 6-point decline in Aquino’s rating since January was due to drops in all four areas across the country: 7 points in the balance of Luzon, 6 in Mindanao, 5 in the Visayas, and 3 in Metro Manila.

Villar lost 6 percentage points in Metro Manila, 2 in the balance of Luzon, and one in Mindanao, but picked up 5 in the Visayas to trim his overall slide to just 1 point.

By socioeconomic class, Aquino was ahead in Class D (38 percent compared with Villar’s 34 percent), while Villar was ahead in Classes ABC (33 percent compared with Aquino’s 30 percent) and Class E (34 percent versus Aquino’s 32 percent).

Pulse Asia survey

Meanwhile, the most recent survey of another polling firm, Pulse Asia, showed Aquino leading Villar by 7 percentage points. In the Pulse Asia’s survey, conducted on Feb. 21-25, Villar rated 29 percent, down by six percentage points from the Jan. 10 survey. In contrast, Aquino held on to 36 percent, down by one percentage point from the previous survey.

Explaining the different results of the Pulse Asia and SWS surveys, political analyst Ramon Casiple said it could be an indication of voters’ “wild swings.”

“There are wild swings among the voters, and there are only a few undecided. They have somebody in mind, but their choice is affected by issues that come out in the media. That’s why the trending is not fixed,” said Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms.

He said the voters had a “deep interest” in the presidential election and were closely monitoring the news coming out in the media about the candidates.

“You may have a lead, but it does not necessarily mean that this will be maintained. But it appears that it’s a one-on-one between the two,” Casiple said of Aquino and Villar.

Vice presidential race

In the latest SWS survey for the vice presidential race, Aquino’s running mate Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II maintained his wide lead over nearest rival Sen. Loren Legarda, running mate of Villar.

Roxas garnered 45 percent, a drop of 4 percentage points from the January survey. Legarda remained at 28 percent.

Other vice presidential candidates did not gain substantially. Trailing were Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay (17 percent), former Metro Manila Development Authority chair Bayani Fernando (3 percent), former Optical Media Board chair Edu Manzano (2 percent), broadcaster Jay Sonza (1 percent), former Securities and Exchange Commission chief Perfecto Yasay (0.4 percent), and Dominador Chipeco (0.4 percent).

Aquino upbeat

Despite his slide, Aquino remained upbeat. “I’m still No. 1, but it doesn’t mean we’re satisfied with that. The tightening race means that we’d just have to redouble our efforts,” he said.

Aquino said that getting ahead of his rivals despite what he called a “tsunami” of political ad and media spending by Villar was in itself an achievement. (See related story – Money and the Presidency.)

“I think our message is getting to its target audience despite our lack of resources. We just make it up with our campaigns and grassroots volunteers,” said the LP standard-bearer.

LP campaign strategist Florencio “Butch” Abad Jr. said Villar had failed to overtake Aquino in the surveys despite exceeding the limit on ad spending.

Villar happy

For his part, Villar said: “We are statistically tied,” referring to the SWS survey.

“As for me, I am comfortable with my lead and, of course, we still look to Noynoy (as a close rival) although we respect all the candidates. However, (Estrada’s) distance (or lead) from us is still far,” Villar said.

He said he was happy that “surveys have confirmed that we are responding to the hopes of the people across the country.”

He attributed the rise in his ratings to the frenetic pace of his campaign sorties across the country since Feb. 9.

“Of course, the others who are (trailing in surveys), we expect them to get more points now because of their wider exposure,” Villar said.

Estrada elated

Estrada expressed elation over his rising rating. He said that if his numbers continued to go up at the rate they were going, he would have a high-enough rating to win come May.

“It’d be over for them,” Estrada said.” In 1998, I started in third place. It’s hard to be No. 1. It’s more difficult (to start) from the top (and then) going down, isn’t it?”

The camp of Teodoro welcomed his slight improvement in rating. “We’re gaining ground right in time for the presidential elections in May,” said Mike Toledo, spokesperson for Teodoro.

Gordon wondered how a small sample of respondents could accurately represent more than 50 million voters across the country. He warned against the mind-conditioning effects of the surveys.

Madrigal said she did not believe in surveys. “Unless and until these survey groups clarify who are funding them and what their methodology is, there will always be a cloud of doubt on their accuracy,” she said.

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CORRUPTION IS STILL THE ISSUE

Politics

CORRUPTION IS STILL THE ISSUE

No Comments 09 March 2010

By Juan T. Gatbonton

To geezers like me, whose memory runs back to the postwar period, it is striking—and sad—that corruption should remain the main election issue during all this time.  Right now, a presidential candidate, also a real-estate magnate, stands accused of engineering the diversion of an arterial road through his property; and the greatest qualification of another candidate for president is his claim to probity: the moral guarantee that “he will not steal.” READ FULL STORY.

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MONEY AND THE PRESIDENCY

Politics

MONEY AND THE PRESIDENCY

1 Comment 07 March 2010

By Randy David

In more ways than one, Noynoy Aquino, Manny Villar and Erap Estrada—the current front-runners in the 2010 presidential race—represent the three distinct faces of Philippine politics. Aquino draws heavily from the charisma of his illustrious parents. Villar banks on the power of his personal wealth. And Estrada continues to rely on his movie hero charm. They also embody, respectively, the three dominant institutions that shape political fortunes in our society: the family, the economy, and the mass media. Each one of them brings to politics a different kind of admission ticket—lineage for Noynoy, purchasing power for Manny, and star appeal for Erap. READ FULL STORY.

IN PHOTO: Manny Villar

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2010 ELECTION: WHY CHOOSE THE LESSER EVIL?

Politics

2010 ELECTION: WHY CHOOSE THE LESSER EVIL?

2 Comments 24 January 2010

By Joe Rivera

This coming national election in the Philippines will not be an ordinary one. While a successor to incumbent president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will be crowned, the election can also be a prelude to a possible shift to a parliamentary system of government if Arroyo wins her congressional seat in Pampanga and becomes the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. READ FULL STORY.

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LEADERSHIP CHANGES AND UNCERTAINTY IN 2010

Politics

LEADERSHIP CHANGES AND UNCERTAINTY IN 2010

No Comments 24 January 2010

By Isagani de Castro Jr.    

The Philippines will see changes in political leadership in 2010, with an opposition president and vice-president likely to take over by noon of June 30, 2010. However, the political transition is paved with a lot of uncertainty brought about by an untested poll automation technology and most voters still unfamiliar with the process. READ FULL STORY.

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A COUNTRY OF IMMENSE AND LARGELY UNSEEN FAILURES

Politics

A COUNTRY OF IMMENSE AND LARGELY UNSEEN FAILURES

No Comments 24 January 2010

By Juan T. Gatbonton

The Jesuit educator, Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, describes government’s neglect of elementary education as “our immense and largely invisible failure.” The fact is that education is not the only basic chore we’ve forgotten to look after. We are a country of immense and largely invisible failures: Our nation is like the proverbial frog inside the kettle on the stove—swimming blithely in water that is coming to a boil. READ FULL STORY.

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