By Rigoberto Tiglao | The Manila Times
THERE are three major factors explaining Filipinos' overwhelming support for Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (BBM) in his bid for the presidency: Marcos, Duterte, and "Bongbong."
First, Filipinos have never really believed the Big Lie propagated by the Yellows and the US Deep State for more than three decades — using three administrations' government and media machinery — that Marcos was the Devil incarnate and his regime a Dark Age.
This, actually, should have been obvious when in the first elections, after the strongman was toppled, the combined votes of Imelda and the figure closest to Marcos, Edgardo Cojuangco, totaled 28 percent, more than the winner Fidel Ramos' 24 percent, which — as even the operators responsible have admitted to their friends — was due to massive cheating. There would have been a swift Marcos restoration if Imelda and Cojuangco had united. Imelda, Imee and BBM, at one time or another, held the post of senator, which means they had national support of different degrees.
We have empirical evidence of the strongman Marcos' massive support being behind his son's coming victory thanks to surveys the Marcos camp apparently undertook confidentially since 2009. As shown in the accompanying figure, Marcos Sr.'s "favorability" was at 45 percent in 2009 to even grow through hate-Marcos Noynoy regime to 55 percent by 2016 and through President Rodrigo Duterte's administration to 69 percent by March this year.
That survey also found that 34 percent in February 2016, at the most and at the least, 22 percent in March 2022, subscribed to the Yellows' narrative that the Marcos years was a "time of Martial Law, killings and accumulation of ill-gotten wealth." These proportions approximate the support for Leni Robredo in polls (19 percent in March 2022, according to Layo Research Strategies) and for the Yellow candidate Mar Roxas' 23 percent votes in the 2016 elections. Their supporters are essentially those who had been brainwashed that the Marcos years were bad.
In contrast, according to that survey, 63 percent in 2015 and 76 percent of respondents in December 2021 believed that martial law was a "time of low prices of commodities, discipline in the country, and infrastructure and transportation advances." Those figures mirror the percentage of voters reported in polls who will be voting for BBM.
The data show that most Filipinos had not believed the Yellow Big Lie.
Filipinos now are simply reacting in anger to the Big Lie forced upon them for 36 years, through their responses to the surveys, through attendance in the rallies and through the votes they will cast next month. Operating in the subconscious is also the archetype — the theme of so many legends — of the long-exiled prince extracting justice for his unjustly deposed, murdered father and winning back his rightful throne.
Another dumb claim is that the youth now had not experienced how difficult it was during martial law, and therefore support BBM. That just isn't borne by facts: The proportion of voters for BBM, according to the surveys, are statistically the same among all age groups: for 18 to 34 years old, 65 percent; 34 to 54 years old, 63 percent; and 55 years old and above, 64 percent.
The second big reason for Marcos' likely victory involves Filipinos' overwhelming support for President Duterte and their belief in the unqualified success of his administration. BBM in the past six years has been very supportive of Duterte and has not uttered a single public criticism of him. Robredo, on the other hand, has spent the past six years criticizing his every move, even telling lies to the UN Human Rights Council, that he had been responsible for thousands of killings of innocent civilians, his allies demanding that he be tried before the International Criminal Court.
While Duterte has not publicly endorsed BBM (cleverly I think), he is perceived as his political and governance successor, and has even recruited his only daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio as his running mate.
Based on the BBM camp's private poll from March 14 to 26 of 3,600 respondents, 73 percent of Filipinos are satisfied with Duterte's administration and only 22 percent think it has been bad. Quite obviously, that 73 percent will vote for the candidate allied with him, or the one who appears will follow the kind of governance he has undertaken the past six years — BBM. As in the case of Marcos, the 22 percent against Duterte's administration is basically the proportion of Filipinos (19 to 20 percent) reported by different surveys at different times as those who will vote for Robredo.
Duterte's decision not to support BBM actually is a boon for him, a stroke of genius. According to the BBM camp's poll, while 45 percent of Filipinos want their "next president to continue the direction of President Duterte," 53 percent want him "to take the country in a new direction." Specifically, there was significant criticism for the killings in his war against drugs.
By not being endorsed by Duterte, BBM would appear to be the candidate who could take the country to a new direction. Yet, at the same time, his being Duterte's supporter could attract 45 percent of Filipinos to vote for him.
According to the BBM camp's survey, out of the 3,600 Filipinos it polled, Marcos and Duterte are the country's best presidents since the post-EDSA years, with each getting 39 percent. In contrast, the three Yellow presidents — Cory, Noynoy and Fidel Ramos — were rated very low, with only 6 percent, 7 percent and 2 percent of Filipinos satisfied with them.
With Robredo being the political incarnation of these three least-liked presidents, while BBM that of his father and Duterte — whom 78 percent of Filipinos think were our best presidents — is it any wonder why the young Marcos, as I explained last Friday, could even get 70 percent of votes next month?
A different survey, by Laylo Research Strategies, also in late March asked 3,000 respondents what were their "compelling reasons to definitely vote for BBM as president," the results of which are shown here. While it confirms Duterte's role for his lead, many of the reasons cited involves his personality, such as having been a public servant for decades and that he is intelligent and knowledgeable.
This is the third big factor for BBM's lead: his personality itself, which many think make him an ideal president: articulate, knowledgeable, intelligent and experienced in government. If BBM for instance was as arrogant as Isko Moreno, or as inarticulate in English as Pacquiao, as vacuous and inexperienced as Robredo, it would have been a steep uphill climb to the presidency, even with the two political titans pushing him up.
This is what I'd call the "Bongbong" factor, his nickname, more and more used in an endearing manner. "Leni," "Isko," "Manny," "Ping" just won't resonate in Filipinos' hearts, so are their personalities if you ever meet them.
In a question in the BBM camp's survey that asked who among the candidates "is the most typical Pinoy," 48 percent chose BBM, with Manny Pacquiao a far second with 18 percent, Isko Moreno with 15 percent. That's a clincher, and says a lot about people's perception of BBM. BBM to the surprise of many has demonstrated he has the charisma for the presidency.
In short, what is driving BBM to the presidency are the two most favored presidents in Philippine post-war history, Marcos and Duterte, plus his own personality.
With that reality, Robredo really never had a chance. She's a political pygmy fighting two political giants as well as a new one.