Three weeks after its rival United Nationalist Alliance launched a campaign ad twitting the administration’s “daang matuwid” mantra, the ruling Liberal Party (LP) came out with an ad presenting their twelve senatorial bets with President Benigno Aquino III himself introducing each candidate. Watch the 45-second video below:
“Sa daang matuwid, marami ang gustong sumali. Pero meron ding nagpapanggap lamang,” Aquino warned in the advertisement. This is in direct reference to politicians previously allied with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who are now in his camp.
Aquino then introduced his bets as individuals the public can truly trust (“Ang siguradong mapagkakatiwalaan…”). After introducing all twelve candidates in alphabetical order, Aquino declared: “Mga tunay na tuwid sa daang matuwid!” A male narrator then quips “Daang matuwid, mag-ingat sa ‘di tunay” just before the ad ends.
The president’s “daang matuwid” slogan was first used during the 2010 presidential elections (watch the video here). This message resonated effectively for an electorate tired of the corruption scandals that hounded the Arroyo administration for nine years.
It also explains why three years into office, Aquino is still very adamant in drawing contrast between him and his predecessor (for example, he hit Arroyo yet again during the LP’s proclamation rally last February 12). And although Aquino’s continued attacks on Arroyo makes him sound like a broken record, he remains popular.
According to a January 19 to 30, 2013 survey by polling firm Pulse Asia, Aquino retains a 66% trust rating among Filipinos. This is twelve points lower than his November 2012 rating, this approval rating is still something that most head of government can only dream of. United States President Barack Obama for instance has an approval rating of 52% although he is only less than a month into his second term.
If the administration coalition is capitalizing on Aquino’s popularity to ensure victory in the 2013 polls, the 2007 midterm election under Arroyo was a different story. As an example, Arroyo neither made an appearance in TEAM Unity’s coalition ad and nor was she mentioned at all. See it below:
The campaign ad of Team PNoy is interesting in many angles. Noticeable is the decision of Nacionalista Party candidates Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Cynthia Villar to not wear yellow in the advertisement. Speaking to Rappler.com, Cayetano explained that this is their way of retaining their identity even though they are coalition partners with the LP. “Out of respect, instead of wearing our own color (orange), we’ll wear our neutral color,” Cayetano said.
A similar observation has been made about Mar Roxas, Aquino’s 2010 vice presidential candidate. Instead of wearing yellow, Roxas sought to make himself standout by wearing blue in public appearances.
In a report by Vera Files, political strategist Malou Tiquia commented that in doing so, Roxas “was more of Mr. Palengke than a partner of Noy (Aquino).” In contrast, Roxas’ opponent Jejomar Binay seemed more than willing to associate himself with the Aquinos as evidenced by this ad for him by Senator Francis Escudero.
Aquino’s main message that some politicians are merely riding on his administration’s anti-corruption drive may be true because of the bandwagon mentality. However, it makes him sound like a demagogue and a hypocrite.
Not all of his party mates are stain-free, and this includes his allies in Palawan who are involved in the Malampaya fund mess and his shooting buddy former Interior undersecretary Rico E. Puno. Aquino himself is not immune to the realities of politics of convenience. How does he explain his endorsement of Mrs. Villar, the wife of the man he himself has accused of corruption just three years ago?