Election opens new era of political leadership
EIGHT weeks and 17 days into the May 9 presidential election, the latest survey on voters’ preferred presidential candidates provides no clue about a red-hot front-runner in a race marked by a mediocre field. In the next few weeks, the ratings are likely to change.
It appears that the voters are not tremendously fired by expectations of a dramatic leadership change based on the alternatives offered by the political parties—their lineups and platforms.
Not one of the five presidential candidates excites the electorate. No one is the incarnation of an inspired agent of change to succeed the lackluster administration of President Aquino.
The May election is not just a routine presidential turnover of leadership. It’s more than that. It should mark the end of the Aquino dynasty’s domination of Philippine politics from President Cory Aquino in 1986 after the Edsa People Power Revolution up to her son, the incumbent President who is retiring in June, thanks to the ban on reelection after a single six-year term under the 1987 Constitution.
The May presidential election, therefore, opens a new era for political renewal and revitalization of top-level leadership—not only with new faces, new policies and new styles to replace tired self-righteous slogans and vindictiveness.
The balloting also opens new approaches and priorities to promote economic growth aimed at creating jobs and reducing poverty, and eliminating economic advantages enjoyed by oligarchic landed estates.
Good governance is more than just filing plunder charges against lawmakers accused of diverting their pork barrel, the Priority Development Assistance Fund, earmarked for public works projects to ghost projects of bogus nongovernment organizations and for allegedly taking kickbacks.
The survey results are dismaying for those expecting that the contenders for the presidency can be vehicles for change and reforms in the succeeding administration.
According to the nationwide survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) just before the official campaign began in February, the list of presidential candidates has narrowed down to five.
But the more important data include Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gaining momentum, with 24 percent of the voters preferring him over other presidential candidates.
Duterte gained 4 percentage points and was tied in second place with Sen. Grace Poe, whose rating stayed flat between the early part of January and the first week of February. This result is bad news for Poe. But Vice President Jejomar Binay cannot find comfort in the results. While Binay was still ahead of the pack with 29 percent of the vote, he slipped 2 percentage points.
Earlier surveys showed that Binay’s ratings had been battered by publicity over investigations in the Senate of allegations of corruption in the construction of projects of Makati City Hall during his term as mayor.
The survey results suggested that a close race among the three contenders—Binay, Duterte and Poe—was developing.
It does not help Duterte to claim that he remains unfazed by his drop in the latest SWS survey from the 38 percent he got last November. “If God wants me to win, I will win,” he said. That’s a big if.
For the first time, Duterte took a big swipe at Binay. He said, “I am the candidate who can confidently speak on everything, like corruption, peace and order and criminality … unlike Binay who is stymied by allegations of corruption.”
The ruling Liberal Party (LP) remained unfazed by the third place garnered by its standard-bearer, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. Senate President Franklin Drilon told a forum in Kamuning, Quezon City, that the campaign season was just a week-old and asked the media to just wait a bit, as Roxas could spring a surprise.
According to the LP camp, the survey results showed that the leading contenders for the presidency were in a “dead heat.”
The LP claimed that Roxas was virtually tied in second place with Duterte and Poe because the margin of error was 3 percentage points.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.