Former Sen. Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos and Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III have reached what The Issues and Advocacy Center (The Center) calls as the win zone and if the current pulse of the electorate will hold till election day on May 9, 2022, there is no doubt that Marcos and Sotto will run away with the country’s top two elective posts and if the Filipino voters shall so decide to vote for their individual choices.
In the most recent non-commissioned Pulso ng Pilipino survey conducted by The Center released on January 7, Marcos emerged as the preferred choice of 43% of the 1,200 respondents who were asked as to whom they will vote for if the elections were held during the time of survey (Dec. 6-12, 2021).
Senate President Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III who is seeking the vice presidency in tandem with Sen. Panfilo Lacson posted a higher percentage at 44%.
Ed M. Malay, director of The Center, said this is the first time in the country’s political history when the candidates for the top two positions have posted winning margins so early in the game. But while Marcos appears to be pulling away with an 27% margin from his closest pursuer Sen. Manny Pacquiao, a 30% difference from Sen. Panfilo Lacson and an 31% lead over Vice President Leni Robredo, the more exciting contest is in the Vice Presidential race which has turned the election for the second highest position in the land into a two-way contest with the other vice presidential candidates being relegated to that of being spectators.
Early frontrunner Manila Mayor Isko Moreno appears to have skidded into a precarious position with just 11% to show following a costly flip flop relative to his off-and-on critique of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. As of this writing, the only hope for Moreno to keep abreast with the frontrunners is an endorsement from the President which is a possibility given the fact that the major players in Moreno’s campaign staff are closely allied with Sen. Bong Go and Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Notwithstanding what appears to be the insurmountable lead of Marcos the other presidential wannabees can still close the gap depending on the kind of campaign strategy they will put in place. But one thing is certain – that no amount of mudslinging and character assassination that is thrown at Marcos is working. In fact the reverse is what seems to be happening in that the more the other candidates gang up on him particularly from the camps of Robredo and Moreno the more popular he gets. This reality should send the strategists of these two camps back to the drawing boards to retool their respective action plans.
As it is only the campaign organizations of Senators Manny Pacquiao and Ping Lacson that have conducted their respective campaigns with utmost probity and propriety The Center explained this is the reason why the ratings of both the eight-division boxing champion and Lacson are steadily rising which could only mean that the electorate today have a clear distaste for such dirty politics as what we have so far seen since the campaign season began.
But The Center stressed that while the lead of Marcos appears insurmountable it is not beyond reach since there is a clear five months more to go before the May 9, 2022 elections and anything can still happen especially when the air war begins. As perception and mindsets are fickle and ticklish the impact of the air war will play a great role in the way the electorate will settle down with their final choices.
While the campaign operators of the presidential and vice presidential candidates have been using the Social Media platforms to promote their candidacies for the simple reason that this is cost-effective, its impact will have to be reassessed in view of two factors:
- Access to the internet is at most limited to urban areas and even in these areas homes aren’t exactly equipped with internet capabilities. If at all such access are bound by time and expense;
- Due to the limited access to the internet, most social media users maximize their access to the digital world and they are moved to choose between browsing through their favorite sites such as TikTok, Twitter, Istagram and Facebook and they are likely to either ignore or bypass the political pages, digital political advertisements and campaign statements of candidates. In fact, a cursory examination of these soc-med sites made by The Center showed that most of those actively engaged in political discourse in soc-med sites are either campaign operators of candidates and the majority, by and large, are trolls and fake accounts.
Tailing Marcos in the presidential race is Sen. Manny PACQUIAO with 16%, Sen. Ping LACSON is in third with 13%. Vice President Leni ROBREDO who actually started the caravan fad is fourth with 12% and Manila Mayor Isko MORENO with a rating of 11% has openly sought the endorsement of President Duterte to keep his candidacy viable. MARCOS swept all the socio-eco classes as he led with 43% among the ABC class, 45%in the C class and 40% in the E class. This explains the lead of MARCOS over the other contenders.
What remains a mystery is how MARCOS has kept his lead and which is still on the rise in the face of virulent attacks unleashed by anti-Marcos forces and joined by supporters of Vice President ROBREDO. The decision of MARCOS to ignore and not get into an endless word war with his detractors is probably one of the reasons why the number of his supporters keep growing as they see him as a victim of his opponents’ bullying tactics.
The other presidential wannabees are Leodegario ‘Ka Leody’ De Guzman with 2%, retired Army General Antonio Parlade Jr. (1%), former Palace spokesman Ernie Abella (.25%) and former Security Adviser Bert Gonzales (.25%). Some 1.5% of those surveyed said they still don’t know whom they will vote for.