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SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: Figuring out the figures

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/05 October) – If the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey are to be believed, the rating of Vice President Jejomar Binay as a “Presidentiable” has dipped by 10 percent. In the survey conducted from September 8-15 among 1,200 respondents, he obtained 31 percent, and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas trailed with 13 percent.

Obviously, the accusations that he and family members got millions in kickbacks from government projects in Makati City, as alleged during Senate hearings, were the main, if not the only, cause of his slide in ratings. His rivals and detractors however need additional ammunition if they wish to trim his lead further to a manageable figure before the campaign for the 2016 elections starts.

Here is a glaring, if disturbing, fact that the Vice President’s opponents, in particular those allied with the current administration, should reckon with: the drop in Binay’s rating has not translated into substantial increase in the rating of Roxas. Never mind those of Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Alan Peter Cayetano and the rest. It would be interesting to know what made the respondents think Binay’s potential rivals are not worth their vote either.

A few guesses: Roxas carries the baggage of having lost to Binay in a battle for a lesser post, not to mention his unconvincing expedient line that he’s too preoccupied with work that he has no time to think about the elections at this time; Cayetano appears too eager for the Presidency – note his TV ads which, ironically, are patterned after Binay’s “Sa Makati” line – which might have turned off voters. And maybe, just maybe, the voters think there really is no alternative choice at this stage. Deep inside they could be saying the accusers after all are as guilty as the accused, if we have to presume that the accused is guilty unless proven otherwise.

Senator Grace Poe may be a decent choice for the presidency. But her age and relative inexperience in politics will work against her.

It would be a different story if the Vice Presidency is concerned, as she led all the other preferences in the same Pulse Asia survey. If and when the time comes, most of the Presidential candidates will woo her to be their running mate. (Note: Since Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City was not included in the survey, I have to reserve my thoughts on his chances for the Presidency or Vice Presidency.)

Now, what will Binay’s critics do in the coming weeks or months aside from the Senate hearings? I’d venture that while the publicity offered by these hearings has eroded the Vice President’s rating, they could only work if his accusers can present new, convincing evidence each time they appear before the committee handling it. If they keep hitting him with the political bat, if may wear off in no time.

Yes, a plunder case has been filed against the Binays. But its prosecution will likely be overtaken by the 2016 polls. If he wins in 2016, will the complainants still have the courage to push on? If he loses, will they still be interested to pursue the case?

Moreover, how will they deal with Binay’s tack of portraying himself as the oppressed object of a concerted demolition job, and going to poor communities, his main base of support, as if to solicit their warmth and comfort? Incidentally, this isn’t the style of Roxas, who grew up in a rich surrounding and hence is aloof to the hoi polloi of society. He still wears that arrogant mien of a haciendero’s son.

In short, Binay remains the candidate to beat despite the sharp decline in his rating. And there is no assurance that the numbers will improve in favor of Roxas or of any administration bet in the months to come. Is this why they are selling the proposal to amend the Constitution so that President Aquino can still run for reelection?

There is more to come (pun intended). [MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at hmcmordeno@gmail.com]

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