With just a week left to go before the official filing of candidacies, we now have a better idea of who’s in and who’s out as far as the 2016 presidential race is concerned.
Yesterday, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo was officially announced as the running-mate of Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas. Earlier today, the United Nationalist Alliance formally declared the tandem of Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senator Gregorio Honasan. The two pairs will go head-to-head against Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero, whose teamup was announced in mid-September.
A fourth tandem is likely to be finalized in the coming days: Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as president and Senator Bongbong Marcos as his running-mate. Despite not having the political machinery and star power of the three aforementioned pairs, Marcos and Duterte will surely be a formidable team for various reasons.
Before anything else, we all remember Senator Alan Peter Cayetano essentially offering himself as a running-mate to Duterte last week. Between Senators Cayetano and Senator Marcos, the latter will definitely attract more votes for Mayor Duterte.
Keep in mind that presidential candidates usually select running-mates that can potentially compensate for their weakness. We can cite two examples for this: In 2008, first-term Senator Barack Obama chose Joseph Biden as vice president mainly because of the latter’s long experience in government service, particularly in the area of foreign policy. Poe seems to follow that example too in choosing Escudero, who has previously served as Sorsogon congressman from 1998 until his election to the senate in 2007.
Ideally, a chosen running-mate should also be able to expand a candidate’s geographic base. As mentioned earlier, Marcos has a better potential than Cayetano of delivering additional votes for Duterte. Apart from having the potential to get the lion’s share of votes from the proverbial “Solid North”, Marcos can also help Duterte win over Eastern Visayas, the home region of the Romualdezes.
Duterte, for his part, has strong ties to Central Visayas given that his family is originally from Cebu. Also, the September 2015 presidential survey by Pulse Asia noted his potential strength among voters from Mindanao. Duterte’s strong support from Visayas and Mindanao isn’t surprising given that it’s been nearly 60 years since the nation last elected a president who did not come from Luzon (that is Carlos P. Garcia, president from 1957 to 1961).
It will be wrong to underestimate the electoral strength of Marcos. According to recent surveys conducted by Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia, he is a sure winner in the senatorial race, having the support of 40 to 55% of the vote. Meanwhile in the vice presidential race, he is emerging as a top competitor against front runner Escudero, whose control on the Bicolano vote is uncertain given the candidacies of Honasan and Robredo.
Some of you will argue that anti-Marcos voters will be alienated. Generally, those voters will support whoever the Aquinos and their allies endorse. Most of them mindlessly question the human rights record of Mayor Duterte. I do not think they are a great loss. With or without Senator Marcos as Mayor Duterte’s vice president, they will not matter.
Marcos is articulate and he knows what he is doing in politics and in the government. He is not a shallow, obnoxious political blabbermouth. The only problem with him is his anti-Muslim image because of his opposition to the Bangsamoro Basic Law, but that can be easily resolved by explaining that federalism is way better. So, he must embrace it.