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Mar’s ratings a puzzle

Indeed, “eets a puzzlement”—as the King in the musical “The King and I” articulated—how the poll ratings of Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas seem to have gotten stuck at No. 3-4, while the ratings of current front-runner Grace Poe are pulling away.

It’s even more of a puzzle why Roxas can’t seem to make it past the double bogey of Rodrigo Duterte and Jojo Binay. Duterte was the last and most enigmatic figure to announce his candidacy, and his public statements have since swung from extreme braggadocio to frightening bluster (for example, “You will not be a good president if you haven’t killed anyone”). Meanwhile, Binay increasingly looks like a deflated version of himself, tired and irritated, lashing out at his opponents.

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For a while there, Roxas supporters rejoiced when he appeared to be “statistically tied” with Binay and Duterte, but his polling numbers have since gone down, even if only by one or two points. What gives?

Early on, Roxas was seen as enjoying a distinct advantage over his rivals, “commanding a nationwide political machinery and vast resources because he is the leader of the ruling party,” as one analysis put it. But you won’t know it from his current standing. Maybe he and the LP could yet pull a surprise maneuver in these waning weeks of the campaign. Or maybe the polling firms are simply asking the wrong people?

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Some attribute Roxas’ troubles to his insistence on mouthing the “daang matuwid” (straight path) line, saying it ties him to the fast-fading P-Noy administration.

But strangely, the same public opinion firms have found that P-Noy continues to enjoy strong approval and support numbers. So why can’t those numbers translate into voter support for his chosen successor?

Roxas’ trolling the bottom of survey figures is even stranger when one considers the surge in poll support for his running mate, Leni Robredo, who is now tied with Bongbong Marcos and fast catching up with front-runner Chiz Escudero. So, again, why can’t the “Leni Express” carry along its presidential candidate?

Also telling is that the top-ranking candidates for senator for the most part hail from the LP-Daang Matuwid coalition. So it certainly can’t be a visceral dislike on the part of voters for the administration.

Is it personal? Is there something about Mar Roxas himself that turns off voters, that makes him, once a top-ranking senator, a veteran Cabinet member, and scion of a political clan, unpalatable to the  masa  taste?

True, his political ads have tended toward the sober and rational and maybe even boring (even if some have said in his defense, “I like boring”), while those of Poe and Binay, for example, feature catchy music, witty slogans and dramatic footage. And it certainly can’t be lack of awareness because Roxas’ years in public service can’t but have ingrained his name and visage on the public consciousness by now.

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I certainly hope Roxas and company figure out the puzzle of his low ratings. There is still hope—remember the surprise turn that Binay pulled off in 2010? But is there enough time, not to mention momentum, on his side?

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For seven years now, the Philippines has been observing April as “National Hemophilia Month,” in line with a presidential proclamation that also declared April 17 as National Hemophilia Day, which is also World Hemophilia Day.

But these are rather low-key observances, and hemophilia itself is not very well-known. Hemophilia is a rare bleeding disorder that, along with other conditions, have in common the absence or lack or improper use of a clotting factor, a protein that controls bleeding. Persons afflicted may experience uncontrolled bleeding that can result from a seemingly minor injury. Others may experience bleeding inside joints and muscles, causing severe pain and permanent disability if left untreated. There may even be bleeding in major organs, such as the brain, which leads to death.

The only effective treatment for bleeding episodes involves imported and costly factor concentrates, which many cannot afford. But with proper management, including awareness and education, access to medicines and physical rehabilitation, “persons with bleeding disorders can avoid disability and live relatively normal and productive lives.”

In the Philippines, the real number of people struggling with rare blood diseases has been grossly underestimated. Dr. Flerida G. Hernandez, former president and treasurer of Haplos Foundation, stresses the urgency of identifying and diagnosing people with bleeding disorders. “Otherwise,” she says, “many of them will suffer disability and death in severe cases.”

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Families of persons with bleeding disorders, their doctors and others in the field, volunteers and advocates, formed Haplos (for Hemophilia Association of the Philippines for Love and Service) some years back. Affiliate groups have likewise been formed nationwide.

Haplos president Ma. Lourdes Formalejo says she and her colleagues are intent on expanding the scope of their advocacy beyond April. A major activity is the “HeARTy Episode I,” a monthlong exhibit of the ARTipolo group of artists that opened yesterday at Chef Jessie at Rockwell Club. This was the venue for the launch of Hemophilia 111, a fund-raising drive of Haplos. Other activities include a family day organized by PR students of Miriam College on April 17, and a healing Mass at Padre Pio Center on April 30.

Apart from providing support from a caring community of friends and caregivers, Haplos also appeals for greater support from the government, such as the establishment of hemophilia treatment centers in public hospitals and the inclusion of hemophilia and other blood disorders in the coverage of the recently-signed Rare Disease Act.

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TAGS: April, Elections 2016, Haplos Foundation, hemophilia, Hemophilia Association of the Philippines for Love and Service, Mar Roxas, National Hemophilia Month, surveys
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