: Presidential race still very fluid; undecided voters increase

28 September 2021

By Jake J. Maderazo |

Eleven days into Comelec’s deadline on filing of certificates of candidacies, the presiden-tial/vice presidential races are riddled with speculations and backdoor maneuvering. From the looks of it, there might be more than six presidential candidates in next year’s elections.

Crucial to the candidates’ decision-making is next week’s release of Pulse Asia’s 3rd quarter sur-vey of leading Presidential, VP and senatorial candidates. In June, Sara Duterte led with 28 per-cent; Isko Moreno Domagoso had 14; Bongbong Marcos,13; Sen. Grace Poe, 10; Manny Pacquiao, 9; VP Leni Robredo, 6; Sen. Ping Lacson, 4; and Sen. Bong Go, 3.

Dr. Ronald Holmes told this columnist their Pulse Asia September data includes the PDP-Laban dispute, the President’s acceptance of its VP nomination and reported withdrawal of Davao Mayor Sara Duterte. It also covers the Senate probe on Pharmally, the PS-DBM and DOH, but will be silent on Moreno’s presidential declaration.

Meanwhile, doing the rounds of political groups is the recent presidential nationwide prefer-ences by the PSRC research group. In a nationwide wave survey in May this year, Moreno led with 30, followed by Sara Duterte, 22; Marcos, 20; Poe, 8; Pacquiao, 7; Robredo, 6; Go, 4; Alan Cayetano, 3; and Lacson, 1.

Their September wave survey indicated that the Presidential race is still very fluid with a higher level of undecided voters. With Sara’s decision not to run, Marcos took the lead with 24, More-no was second at 20 points but dropped 10 (attributed to rise of Leni and Ping), while Sara Duterte remained third at 18. Robredo was fourth place rising by 6 to 12 points while Lacson was a far fifth up by four points or a total of 5. Pacquiao dropped to sixth at 4 while Go has also three points at seventh and the disinterested Poe lost six points and now at eighth place with only 2 points.

Behind the scenes, political strategists, famous, infamous or new are busy managing their re-spective presidential bets. Former MECO Ambassador and ex-Duterte tactician Lito Banayo is the principal honcho in Moreno’s camp. Former DILG secretary Ronnie Puno is now behind Lac-son’s campaign, while media handler Bernard Peralta is reportedly handling Pacquiao’s image. Atty. Liza Araneta-Marcos, son Socmed specialist Ferdinand Alexander III “Sandro” Marcos and sister Sen. Imee Marcos are handling Bongbong’s campaign. Leni’s campaign is handled by the Yellows and displaced financial supporters decimated by the present dispensation. Duterte’s candidate, whether Sara Duterte or Bong Go, is being managed by the president’s 2016 media handlers and its troll farms.

Who among these candidates will continue on until election day, we will never know until No-vember 15, the last day for substitution for all candidates. But as of today, the serious candi-dates are Aksyon Demokratiko’s Moreno, Reporma’s Lacson, KBL’sMarcos, Promdi’s Pacquiao (what happened to PDP-Laban?), Independents former Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Anto-nio Trillanes. Two female candidates are still non-committal until the last day. Liberal Party and 1Sambayan coalition’s Robredo will decide on October 8, but many believe she will run if Mar-cos runs for President.

Davao Mayor Sara Duterte will be most watched as to which party (Hugpong ng Pagbabago) will be on her certificate of candidacy. The much-feared substitution may happen if Comelec decides to make HNP as a national party coalition, backed by its track record of winning 8 sena-torial bets in 2019. On the other hand, PDP-Laban’s intra-party dispute may be elevated and dribbled at the Supreme Court rendering it disadvantageous for its national candidates.

Quite sadly, we are seeing here today the serious weakness of our existing “multi-party sys-tem”. I think it is time we go back to the two- or three-party system, wherein thru election pri-maries or debates, the people can really examine the best of the best of our future leaders.

Election campaigns should be platform and competency-based where political lightweights and pretenders are immediately discarded from presidential shortlists. The famous but unqualified should be booted out.