Political alliances change as the presidential competition becomes a two-way race

PICTURES of presidential candidates are printed on drinking cups sold in a popular grocery store. – PHILIPPINE STAR / RUSSELL PALMA

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

BOBBY YADAO, 25, was inspired by the rags-to-riches story of Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso, a former matinee idol running for the Philippine president this year.

But he changed his mind and now supports Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo after hearing about her platforms and seeing his friends campaign for the opposition leader at a demonstration near the Philippine capital last month.

“I was inspired by the event,” he said in an interview. “‘What could have motivated at least 137,000 people to attend the convention?” I asked after seeing pictures of the event online, ”said Mr. Yadao, who works in a laundry in Manila.

He is not bothered by presidential polls, as former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. has dominated. Ms. Robredo remains a distant second place, though her ratings continue to rise.

Groups and power brokers continue to change their strategies two weeks before the Philippines elects President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s successor, as the presidential race is shaping up to be a two-way race, according to political analysts.

Changing alliances is nothing new in terms of Philippine politics, said Maria Ela L. Atienza, who teaches political science at the University of the Philippines (UP).

“Some of these organizations and traditional politicians tend to flock to perceived stronger candidates,” she said in a Viber statement. “They can easily flip-flop compared to more progressive and principled politicians and groups.”

Ikaw Muna Pilipinas, a political group formed in 2021 to push Mr Domagoso’s presidential election, this month moved his support to Mrs Robredo, who it said has a better chance of winning against the son and namesake of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos .

This happens after a central official from Aksyon Demokratiko, Mr. Domagoso’s political party, left his post to support Mrs Robredo as president.

The Partido Reporma, led by a former administrative ally and power broker in the southern Philippines, withdrew its support for Senator Panfilo “Ping” M. Lacson and supported Mrs. Robredo.

Meanwhile, the One Cebu Party, a political group in the central Philippines, has approved Mr Marcos as president. The group is led by the family of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn F. Garcia, whose brother Pablo resigned as party general secretary to continue supporting Mr. Domagoso.

Atienza noted that the Remulla political clan from the vocal Cavite province had fought hard for former Vice President Jejomar C. Binay’s presidential election, only to move at the last minute its support for Mr Duterte, who was his rival. then.

“What may be new about the 2022 election is that we have sector and professional groups that have not been very vocal in previous elections coming out to support the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem,” she said, referring to the tandem. by Mrs. Robredo and her Deputy Comrade Senator Francis N. Pangilinan.

“In a presidential campaign, any kind of approval is indispensable, and even more so in a close race,” said Jan Robert R. Go, assistant professor of political science at UP.

Local officials usually support their national bets based on consultations with the governor and other higher-level politicians.

“So if a candidate at the national level can penetrate this system, there is a chance to be considered and eventually be elected to the position,” said Mr. Go to a Facebook Messenger chat.

He added that national candidates need to balance their focus between national and local policies, which are more closely intertwined and can influence outcomes.

Ms. Atienza said the test on election day is whether the affiliations of traditional politicians would make a difference. »Will voters be more influenced by other factors? We can probably expect more shifts in the coming days until May 9. “

Jean Encinas-Franco, professor of political science at UP, expects Mr Marcos to lose supporters as his assessments have fallen and problems against him and his family, including billions in unpaid property taxes, are piling up.

“April is a time of crisis for all candidates, so this development is expected,” she said in a Messenger chat.

Leaders of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan branch in Baguio City recently withdrew their support for Mr. Marcos, whose poll at Pulse Asia Research, Inc.’s poll in March fell 4 points.

Ms. Franco said it is unlikely for Ms. Robredo’s supporters change their minds at the last minute as they have organized and participated in rallies that have attracted thousands of people and have managed to run the campaign as a social movement.

Mr. Go said the opposition candidate should sustain her campaign and convince more voters given her relatively lower viewership.

“She seems to be gaining momentum because of a more personal way of campaigning,” he said. “If it continues, it could make a difference in her favor. A lot can still happen between today and election day.”

Mr. Marcos held his lead in the Pulse Asia president’s poll last month, where 56% of Filipinos said they would vote for him, even though his rating fell by 4 points.

Still in second place was Mrs Robredo, whose rating rose by 9 points to 24%. She was succeeded by Mr. Domagoso (8%), senator and boxing champion Emmanuel “Manny” D. Pacquiao (6%) and Mr. Lacson (2%).

Earlier this month, the opposition bet attracted more than 200,000 supporters at a demonstration in Pampanga province, the bailiff of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who has supported Mr Marcos and his vice-presidential candidate, Davao’s mayor and president’s daughter Sara Duterte – Carpio.

Analysts have said that youth voters, who make up more than 50% of registered voters, are unlikely to be affected by the support of local politicians.

“I do not consider Pampanga a mayor of Arroyo or any of the politicians out there,” said Wenry Manaloto Basa, one of the thousands of young people who attended Ms. Robredos Pampanga Rally.

“We will not let any local politician dictate who we should vote for,” he said in a Messenger chat. “We are tired of dynasties. We will vote for someone who we believe will help not only our province and ours cabalens but all Filipinos. “

“There is no solid north,” shouted supporters at Ms. Robredo’s recent demonstration in La Union province in the north of the country, which is part of the regional bloc known for supporting the late dictator’s family.

“I attended the convention to prove that there is no Solid North,” Bret Jarod Sean Ordoño, one of the thousands of young people attending the event, said in a Messenger chat. The 22-year-old student from UP participated in the La Union rally with his friends from Baguio, Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte, which is considered part of the pro-Marcos regional bloc.

“The so-called unit called Solid North is a hoax,” he said, noting that his ancestors had fought to prevent Marcoses from returning to power. “It’s used to win over voters.”

Mr. Yadao, the laundry employee, said his voting decision is based on a candidate’s platforms and results, not polls. “Voting results may still change.”

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