Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2016 guessing game continues


By Val G. Abelgas  
Binay-and-Grace-PoeThe latest survey on presidential candidate preferences has left the door open for more candidates to join the race and for political parties to review alliances with other groups.
Just a year earlier, it appeared that Vice President Jejomar Binay was a shoo-in to become the next president. But after a well-orchestrated and obviously successful demolition job, this is clearly no longer the case.
Binay has continued his slide in approval and trust ratings and has narrowed down his lead in the presidential surveys. The beleaguered vice president, who has made known his presidential plans since Day 1 of becoming the country’s second highest ranking leader, is just five points ahead of the increasingly popular Sen. Grace Poe.
In a survey conducted by the Social Weather Station from March 20 to 23, it was found that 58 percent of 1,200 respondents said they were satisfied with Binay’s performance while 28 percent were dissatisfied, for a net satisfaction score of 31. This was down 13 points from 44 in December and his fourth straight quarterly drop since March 2014’s 73 percent.
In the electoral survey conducted by the SWS also from March 20 to 23, Binay’s share of the poll went down by only one percent – from 37 in December 2014 to 36 in March, but the bigger concern for the Binay camp was that Poe had gained 10 percent – from 21 in December to 31 in March, cutting the Vice President’s lead from 16 points to 5 in just three months.
In June last year, Binay was well ahead of the pack with 41 percent and Poe had only 12 percent in distant second. Former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, who has since said he is seeking reelection as mayor, had 7% while Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumptive standard bearer of the Liberal Party, was tied in fourth with Sen. Miriam Santiago and Sen. Chiz Escudero. Senators Bongbong Marcos and Alan Peter Cayetano both had 5%.
As Binay’s star continues to fade, other contenders, except Roxas, gained. Roxas went down from 19 percent in December to 17 in March in a tie for third with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who gained 10 points and overtook four others with 15 percent.
The mayor leapt past Santiago (11 percent in March, up from 10 percent in December), Estrada (up 11 percent from nine percent) and Escudero (eight percent in March, down from nine percent). Other presidential contenders in the survey were Marcos (seven percent from three percent) and Cayetano (four percent from three percent).
The United Nationalist Alliance is the only party with a certain candidate at this time in Binay.
President Aquino still has to endorse the candidate for LP and Malacanang says the announcement will be made in June, most probably after the next survey results. Although party stalwarts, led by Senate President Franklin Drilon, insist it would be Roxas, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda clarified that Aquino has not made any commitment to endorse Roxas.
Later, Drilon said that Roxas has made it clear to party mates that he was interested in running for president, obviously in reaction to Lacierda’s statement. Apparently, Aquino is not happy with Roxas’ consistent poor showing at the polls and may be ready to find a more winnable candidate if Roxas’ ratings do not improve substantially by June.
It is important for Aquino to make sure he will have a candidate who can beat Binay or any other opposition bet because, as he said, he wanted to be assured that his reform agenda would be continued by the next president, and, many suspect, to ensure protection from prosecution after he exits.
At this time, Poe is Aquino’s best alternative. The neophyte senator can effectively split Binay’s vote considering that the still popular Estrada has made it clear that he would have to support Poe if she decides to run because of his close friendship with Poe’s late father, actor Fernando Poe Jr., who many believe was cheated in the 2004 presidential election won by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Poe ran and won under the administration’s coalition senatorial slate in 2013, but has shown her independence from Aquino in several issues. Will she acquiesce to Aquino’s appeal for her to run as the Liberal Party’s candidate if Aquino does decide to drop Roxas?
Poe’ silence can only be deafening, although the suspense has actually added to her ascent in the polls. But she cannot afford to dilly-dally for long. The elections are just a year away, and political parties have to make decisions on their standard bearers and campaign contributors have to commit to certain candidates.
One can just imagine the wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes at this time, especially as far as who the administration presidential and vice presidential candidates are concerned. Who will be the administration’s eventual presidential team? Will it be Roxas-Poe, Poe-Roxas, Lacson-Poe, Poe-Escudero, or Escudero-Poe?
It’s anybody’s guess at this time. I don’t think Roxas would be willing to slide down again to the vice presidency as he did in 2010 in favor of Aquino. It’s either the presidency or he’ll probably just run for senator.
As for Poe, a close supporter said it’s also the presidency or nothing for Poe, although I believe Poe can be persuaded to slide down to vice president because she’s still young and could still peak in 2022. It may depend on who the presidential bet would be, whether that person is tainted or not. She wouldn’t want to tarnish her clean image leading to the next presidential election.
Duterte can be the wild card in the coming election if he decides to run for president. The feisty mayor is gaining following because of his down-to-earth demeanor and his radical, if not outrageous, reform agenda.
Reliable sources are saying Marcos is definitely running, probably under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, if only to cleanse the name of his namesake father. Lacson wants another run at the presidency, and will try to get Aquino’s endorsement. Santiago has also made it clear she will also make a run for the presidency if her health would allow it.
Escudero, who is still on cloud 9 following his marriage to actress Heart Evangelista, has not shown much interest in running for president although many believe he is very much qualified for the job. Cayetano seems intent on running, and is almost certain to become the candidate of the Nacionalista Party if the old party stays away from the ruling coalition in 2016.
Except for Binay running under the opposition UNA, nothing is definite up to this time and everything else is pure speculation. Expect everything to firm up as soon as Aquino makes his own decision. And that’s not too far away.

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