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On The Move

Easter Sunday sting

Presidentiables Isko Moreno, Ping Lacson, and Norberto Gonzales unveiled their “united front” in a press con on Easter Sunday. It turns out their joint message was of no moment. They announced that they would not withdraw from the race and that they would serve in government whoever among them wins. Then, they announced that they would all oppose any moves to subvert the will of the people. Nothing newsworthy there.

They, then, used these two innocent statements as step stools to meander into reckless attacks against Vice President Leni Robredo. Isko was unabashedly the ringleader, accusing VP Leni of the “crime” of being only a far number two in the polls, too weak to dislodge Marcos as the frontrunner. Moreno also called on VP Leni to withdraw from the race, saying that any one of the other candidates might do better.

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The press con shifted to high gear when a certain reporter named Marlon Purificacion of Journal Publications delivered the perfect rogue pitch to Isko, asking him to react to the purported statement of VP Leni that there will be instability if she lost the elections. Moreno, then, animatedly and repeatedly excoriated VP Leni for such an irresponsible statement. Lacson also pitched in to agree the statement was indeed irresponsible, after a half-attempt to confirm VP Leni made the statement, taking Marlon’s word for it. Then, Isko called for VP Leni to withdraw from the presidential race to loud cheers in the audience.

It was Moreno who said that there will be a coup if either red (Marcos) or pink (Robredo) wins and that for the peace of mind of the people, they should vote for him. Confronted with this anomaly later in the press conference, Moreno blushed and curtly pointed a finger in the direction of Marlon.

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Being third in the survey rankings, Isko stood the most to lose when he cast his lot with the bottom-dwellers. That the political advisers of Isko allowed this reckless stunt seemed to show the infectious desperation at the bottom of the presidential race.

But on second thought, there is logic to the recklessness. The 4-percent voter preference loss of Marcos Jr. and the 9-percent gain of VP Leni in the latest March Pulse Asia survey was meaningful as the reduction was across socioeconomic classes, age groups, and regions, while the increase for VP Leni was also across the board (though unchanged in Metro Manila).

Insightful doctors may find patterns that elude medical technologists. Apparently, Isko’s handlers are campaign surgeons. Not only do they make meaningful sense of how the dynamic optics of the mammoth pink rallies belie the static tale of the surveys. They position Isko to gain from the shedding of vote preferences away from Marcos Jr.. VP Leni’s voter-gratifying rallies, house-to-house campaigns, and mural displays are dislodging two streams of soft-boiled Marcos Jr. would-be voters: (1) those who will shift to the “most similar alternative” to Marcos Jr. (Isko); and (2) those who will shift to the “most opposite alternative” to Marcos Jr. (Robredo). Isko positions himself as the go-to alternative by being the most rabid anti-Leni presidential candidate.

Isko and Marlon apparently had the game plan. Ping, unaware, jumped in to bash VP Leni. Bert obliged with ambiguous statements about VP Leni’s purported NPA and national security connection. Willy Ong, confused as to what was happening, wisely kept quiet. Only Tito Sotto, sensing he’s been hijacked, reduced his blameworthiness by restating the two innocuous messages he understood the press conference was about.

It looks like Isko played all of them— running mate and opponents alike. The greatest loser was Ping, who started lip-syncing Isko’s tune without understanding why. His ego believed Isko’s stunt would equally give him a chance to be the alternative to frontrunner Marcos Jr. Confronted by reporters at the end of the press con, he said asking VP Leni to withdraw was Isko’s call not his.

More desperate campaign moves will emerge. But this is perhaps the first time that a candidate has laid his eggs in the nests of his opponents, making them all believe his eggs were theirs. Well, on Easter Sunday eggs can do magic.

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, 2022 presidential race, Isko Moreno, Leni Robredo, On The Move, panfilo lacson, Segundo Eclar Romero
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