The Manila Times : Stopping BBM — the big if

20 April 2022

By William Depasupil | The Manila Times

NINETEEN days to the day of reckoning, BBM is holding his own. The Teflon boy is comfortably biding his time mouthing the same message that resonated with the tired electorate. "Time to Unite for the country" — and the devil takes the hindmost. Meantime his minions have been spreading manure measure for measure — plunging lately to a new low hitting Aika, Leni's daughter with a fake pornographic muck. Perhaps in retaliation for hitting BBM's wife Liza on a spliced — "I'm very New York — my way or the highway" video clip, which went viral.

With BBM's comfortable lead, the opposition — that is, everyone else against Marcos — is panicking; a "fight or flight response" triggered by a release of political hormones is most welcome at this late date. In this case, fleeing from the other moribund wannabees with surveys nailed to the low.04 to 3 percent, who by now should be categorized as nuisance candidates. The three major ones lagging behind — Isko, Manny and Ping — have numbers that even if added to Leni's won't still carry the latter to the top. But a case can be made for the three withdrawing in favor of Leni at this late date, as a "moral statement," creating a momentum, inducing people to think that the best option for this presidential election to stop a Marcos is to unite behind Leni. But will it?

The three stooges

My apologies to Moe, Curly and Larry, but Isko, Manny and Ping are performing like the originals with nary a shred of comedy but provoking instead a looming tragedy. Invited to form a united front to fight BBM and to avert an imminent debacle, only Leni — self-serving as it were — agreed, knowing perhaps she would be the logical choice. And indeed, she is. The last two months saw the three stooges' numbers comatose — except perhaps for Isko. But the latest surveys show the three are running behind Leni and the gap is widening, resulting in defections from their camps. In late March, Ping Lacson was dropped by his own party — a slap to his face. I like Ping, but what Alvarez and his own political party did to him was a clear sign that he must give up. He's down to 4 percent.

Isko's "Ikaw Muna" and "Nais Ko" umbrella campaigners led by Tim Orbos have defected in droves to Leni. Isko's groups from the Visayas and Zamboanga chapters have likewise decided to shift to Leni.

Manny with his catatonic 7 percent is awaiting divine intervention before he quits. Hasn't he heard that the "appointed son of God" has already bet his kingdom on BBM?

Numbers don't lie — but can change

Going back in time, comparing presidential surveys at approximately a month or less before the elections would give us an insight into the expected outcome. In 1992, in a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, Fidel Ramos (FVR) was tied at 18 percent with Miriam Santiago in a field of six presidential candidates. FVR eventually won with 28.58 percent and Miriam 19.72 percent. She cried that she was cheated.

In 1998, Erap Estrada kept his lead a month before the May 11 elections, doubling that of Speaker Joe de Venecia who eventually lost at 15.87 percent against Erap's 39.86 percent.

Pulse Asia in 2004 had Fernando Poe Jr. leading in February 8 vs GMA 35-33 percent; they were even on February 20, at 32 percent; and GMA overtaking Poe 34-31 percent on April 4; and 37-31 percent a week before elections. Fernando Poe claimed he was cheated.

In 2010 in a field of nine candidates, President PNoy led all the way, with Manny Villar and Joseph Estrada fighting it out for second place.

In 2016 in a field of five presidentiables, the comparative four-month figures before the May election were volatile between Mar Roxas and Duterte with the last week before the election stabilizing with the eventual winner, Duterte 33 percent to 22 percent.

This election season's comparative figures established early BBM's lead over Leni hovering between 50++ to Leni's high teens and low 30s. The three stooges, Pacquaio, Isko and Ping, couldn't break the 20 percent combined levels.

Today BBM is on track to a majority win — if the numbers hold till May 9. But then here comes the kuro-kuro being whispered among the cognoscenti.

What if?

Duterte so far has been moping, wasting away his lame duck period, not oblivious but irrelevant to the unfolding drama. But even a lame duck in some weird and peculiar way can still influence this election's outcome. But he has to make his move now. By his silence and with his daughter as BBM's VP, Duterte is in effect tolerating BBM. But to openly endorse a "kawatan, a weak leader and a cocaine user" (his words), he will look foolish. For an alpha male this turnaround, if ever, will mark him as an idiot for life.

His allowing his PDP-Laban faction to endorse BBM-Sara and not Manny Pacquaio shows where his sympathies lie. I'm sure Marcos would welcome his endorsement, but at this point — "para que"? He has a humongous lead and "suma total," BBM doesn't really need him.

But what if the Deegong wants to show the world that he is no lame duck and still can influence the course of Philippine political history? Endorse Leni, now! Wild speculation perhaps but this will be a real game changer and put fear in the heart of the Marcoses. A long shot perhaps but one that will create a positive momentum for the Kakampinks.

So, what has he got to lose? Sara is going to win hands-down anyway — so his legacy, for whatever it's worth, is protected. Leni as president doesn't have a political dynasty of her own — unlike Sara Duterte who has in her wake, Paolo, Baste and Bong Go, the surrogate Duterte. Thus, the Duterte dynasty will live on — writing finis to the Marcos clan.

Conspiracy theory

But there are other kuro-kuro going around — particularly among the desperados wanting to prevent a Marcos return to power. This total hatred for the Makoy and his martial law regime has so permeated Philippine politics, poisoning the election process itself, encouraging weirdos to proffer their ten cents' worth. Among the compelling ones, particularly from the DDS and fist-bumping crowd, is that the Deegong is really in control and orchestrating the whole scenario allowing the election to go its course.

BBM will win the election but with the help of the structure put in place by the master strategist Duterte beforehand — BBM will be disqualified immediately after his swearing in. And daughter Sara steps up to take over. Not before President-elect BBM's swearing in date — as BBM's disqualification will trigger Leni's ascendancy. Beautiful scenario! And a stupid one!

Such despair is understandable, particularly from the remnants of the original Yellow Army (this columnist not excepted) plus the post-Cory descendants that have failed to erase the Marcoses from the Ilocanos and now a vast number of Filipinos' affections; and despite more than three decades of vilification and demonizing of the Marcoses — they will be back.

So, if these weird scenarios do not pan out, be prepared for a new and different narrative.