Gilbert Teodoro should see the light like Ronnie Puno
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-10-29

When your Chair Wrecker was ANC Senior Correspondent Ricky Carandang’s guest last October 22 in his “The Big Picture” TV show (9:30 to 10 p.m.), our discussion on the dynamics of the 2010 presidential elections shifted to DILG Secretary Ronnie Puno’s theory about how the candidates will divide the 2010 votes.

Ronnie previously told Ricky that with so many Opposition candidates running there is a good chance that the administration bet will win. Ronnie was banking on retaining the 20 to as much 25% in several SWS and Pulse Asia surveys that remained supportive of Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) despite the many scandals and shortcomings of her administration.

To put this GMA support base in perspective, the late president Elpidio Quirino garnered nearly 31.08% of the 1953 votes, compared to President Ramon Magsaysay’s 68.90%, in what is still considered the most lopsided presidential election. Ronnie’s assumption of a 20 to 25% GMA support base for the administration bet is logical.

Ronnie’s assumptions were obviously based on at least four Opposition candidates running for president which theoretically divides the easily 65% pro-Opposition pie to an assumed equal share of 16.25% each. But this is never the case because there will eventually be one presidential candidate who will dominate and take the biggest share of the assumed 65% Opposition pie (with 10% presumed undecided or going to independents).

Once an Opposition frontrunner emerges, there is a tendency to create a bandwagon effect and Opposition-leaning voters will gravitate towards the frontrunner. So, the strongest of the four Opposition presidential candidates could eventually garner anywhere from 30 to 40% while the weakest Opposition candidate could end up with only 5 to 10%. Even with four Opposition candidates running, the administration presidential candidate will still not have enough votes to win.

Ronnie Puno’s theory may have been made before the Noynoy Aquino phenomenon happened. This theory retained a semblance of possibility under the old givens with Senators Manny Villar, Chiz Escudero, Mar Roxas, Loren Legarda, Mayor Jojo Binay and pardoned convicted former president Joseph Estrada splitting the Opposition votes. With Roxas, Legarda and Binay having decided to run for Vice President instead, there are now less Opposition presidential candidates vying for the assumed 65% pro-Opposition pie.

After the SWS September 18-21 nationwide survey confirmed the strength of the Noynoy Aquino phenomenon, all these givens were thrown out of the window. With the 60% Noynoy Aquino rating in the Multiple Choices survey and the 51% Noynoy Aquino rating in the single choice Private Rider survey of the SWS — the equation has ceased to be a simple administration versus the Opposition tug-o-war. Those phenomenal Noynoy Aquino ratings — phenomenal under the present multi-party conditions — indicate that the criteria of the voters have shifted to an ideological dimension.

The voters used to think along the lines of choosing the so-called lesser evil among generally considered traditional politicians. The selection has since shifted to choices between trust versus distrust, good versus evil, reform versus status quo and people empowerment versus traditional patronage politics. Under the new givens, Noynoy Aquino may be heading towards cornering a majority of the voters – thus leaving the minority to be shared by both the administration and Opposition candidates.

Of course, the gainsayers and those who are in denial of what is happening will always posit that Noynoy Aquino’s high ratings can still slide down. It can – theoretically – but then the other side of that theory is that it can still go up. Two or three more survey results like this of the SWS and you can expect a bandwagon effect pushing Noynoy Aquino’s numbers higher.

Of course, special operations – the euphemism for the concoctions of the dirty tricks department – are already underway to make Noynoy Aquino appear to be as evil as Beelzebub. But these special operations hardly affect strong and passionate brand loyalties, especially when the alternatives are perceived as weak and defective brands.

Ronnie Puno must have seen the handwriting on the wall when he withdrew from the vice presidential race. This is all déjà vu to him – having witnessed a similar political occurrence in 1986. Ronnie would know that special operations can be a winning factor if you are trying to overcome a mere 5% lead. He would know that he would merely be courting the experience of the sum of all his fears if he tries to deny the poll victory of one who is leading the closest rival by over 25%.

In our discussion after the TV show, Ricky Carandang and your Chair Wrecker agreed that it is a pity that administration presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro chose to run for president in 2010. In another time and under different circumstances, Teodoro could be a viable candidate. In 2010, Teodoro can be likened to the Marcos KBL candidate who ran in the 1987 first post-Marcos era national election for Senators with only two chances of winning — none and nil.

Sun Tzu prescribed that it is a foolish general who fights the un-winnable battle. Ronnie Puno saw the light and wisely chose not to fight the un-winnable battle. Gilbert Teodoro should seek enlightenment from Sun Tzu and Ronnie Puno.

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