Senate bets need P100 M for TV ad campaign
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-12-20
The Pulse Asia updated survey on the 2013 senate race tells a grim story for those candidates outside of the Magic 12. Without intending to pop any senatorial candidate’s party balloon, it’s a grim story because there might be only two to three slots to compete for, four at most.

The December 5 release of the SWS BusinessWorld survey didn’t vary much from that of the Pulse Asia’s poll. In the SWS-BusinessWorld poll, there were ranking variations but the top 8 remained the same.

In other words, the top 8 in the Pulse Asia roster seem immovable, barring a major scandal or expose against one of them.

Listed in the Pulse Asia November 23 ‑29 Survey are: (1) Chiz Escudero, 74.1; (2) Loren Legarda, 69.3; (3) Alan Peter Cayetano, 60.1; (4) JV Ejercito, 57; (5) Jacky Enrile, 53.2; (6) Cynthia Villar, 52.2; (7) Koko Pimentel, 50.2; (8) Gringo Honasan, 44.9; (9) Sonny Trillanes, 43.2; (10) Nancy Binay, 41.3; (11) Sonny Angara 40.8; and (12) Migz Zubiri, 40.5.

Trying to break into the winning 12 are: (13) Jamby Madrigal, 34.4; (14) Dick Gordon, 29.7; (15) Jun Magsaysay, 28.8; (16) Bam Aquino, 27.9; (17) Grace Poe, 24.7 and (18) Risa Hontiveros, 21.1. Among those ranking number 13 ‑ 18, my crystal ball tells me that Jun Magsaysay, Bam Aquino and Grace Poe have the better chances to dislodge Migz Zubiri, Sonny Angara and Nancy Binay, the three most vulnerable in the Magic 12 as it stands today.

This forecast of a Jun Magsaysay, Bam Aquino and Grace Poe landing among the top 12 is based on the assessment of their political capital, their capability to raise funds and their spotless records. There are no scandals hounding these three — unlike Migz Zubiri who is weighed down by questions about his 2007 victory. In the case of Sonny Angara, if the APECO (Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority) issue snowballs, that could hurt his senate bid. Jun Magsaysay, Bam Aquino and Grace Poe can overhaul the 12-point lead that Angara and Zubiri has over them.

Jun Magsaysay has done his father’s name proud and had a spotless record during the many years that he served as a congressman and senator. Despite all the roadblocks that the Gloria M. Arroyo (GMA) regime installed to derail his senate probe, Jun was able to develop a case on the Fertilizer Scam.

Bam Aquino carries the name of the strongest political brand in the country. It must be inputted that President Benigno S. Aquino (P-Noy) still enjoys high popularity and approval ratings. P-Noy doesn’t have to directly endorse Bam. Voters will appreciate Bam as a fruit from a very good family tree.

Grace Poe gets a lot of boost from the popularity of her late father, Fernando Poe Jr. In our most emotional nation, you cannot underestimate the impetus of a sympathy vote. Given the right political strategy and the bare minimum advertising money that will be required to operate a viable senatorial campaign — there are no reasons why Jun Magsaysay, Bam Aquino and Grace Poe can’t land in the top 12. In fact, properly equipped, Jun Magsaysay and Bam Aquino are capable of rising higher than the 11th slot.

Any serious senatorial campaign must cope with the high cost of television advertising. Sure, there are cheaper alternatives now but it’s still free TV that best reaches those belonging to socio-economic classes D and E. The best way to make them appreciate your message is to tell it to them while they’re watching their favorite telenovelas or comedy shows.

Before the Pulse Asia and SWS polls were released, some folks were disputing the electability of Cynthia Villar. She proved them wrong. Her TV ads about providing jobs hit a sensitive nerve. In the 2010 Presidential Election, voter psychographic studies showed intense preference for candidates who can help them in a direct way. What can you do for me is what voters will be asking every candidate. Can you give me a job? Can you increase my income? Can you educate my children? Candidates will then have to position themselves according to these criteria in the voters’ minds.

Per my two friends, ad veterans Ernie Hernandez and Louie Rogacion, based on the allowable 120 minutes for each candidate on primetime TV advertising ‑ the cost reality is around P120 million. That’s only TV. Candidates like Jun Magsaysay and Bam Aquino might have to do more if they’re to dislodge those in the top 12. Migz Zubiri appreciates the value of TV ads and is already spending a lot on it before the start of the campaign.

It’s high time that Filipinos from the middle and lower middle class learn to contribute to the campaign of good, clean candidates. The biggest reason why the best and the brightest shy away from politics is because they feel they will have to steal to make up for the high cost of being elected. It’s best for our democracy that public officials are elected from the P100 contributions of 2 million voters than the present system where candidates owe their election to a few power brokers.

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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