Oh, when it rains it pours!
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-04-06
While we suffer from the extremely dry spell of El Nino, for two political camps in the presidential elections it is a classic case of when it rains it pours. These two political camps are those of the administration Lakas Kampi CMD Party and the Nacionalista Party.

The April 1st front page banner story of the Philippine Daily Inquirer — “Arroyo party breaking up; First Gentleman blamed” with a subhead “Mike A ‘called up’ Garcias to back Villar” — was earthshaking. Penned by TJ Burgonio, Aquiles Zonio, with a report from Gil Cabacungan, it stated that the recent resignations of Lakas Kampi CMD Chairman (and presidential candidate) Gilbert Teodoro, President Miguel Dominguez and Secretary General Francis Manglapus were traced to First Gentleman Mike Arroyo’s signal to party provincial kingpins to support Manny Villar instead of the official administration party presidential candidate.

The article transformed what was once circulating as “Money Villarroyo” into “Mike Villarroyo” which is no less damaging for our Kumpadre Manny Villar. The Garcias referred to are the political kingpins of Cebu who had transferred to the camp of Manny Villar except for Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia who stayed with Gilbert Teodoro.

A Lakas Kampi CMD party official and a Senatorial candidate were cited as the sources for the story about Mike Arroyo’s actions behind the scenes. The previous migration of administration allies to Manny Villar added impetus to the news story despite the later denials by Governor Garcia and Teodoro.

My Kumpadre Manny Villar must have felt the pangs of crucifixion last Holy Week. Before Holy Week, the BusinessWorld-SWS (Social Weather Stations) March 19-22 poll and the Manila Standard Today March 21-23 poll had him trailing presidential race leader Noynoy Aquino by 9 points and 13 points, respectively. In the February SWS poll, Villar trailed Aquino by only two points. The two polls clearly indicated that Villar’s upward momentum had stopped and that he is sliding.

Then came our expose that Kumpareng Manny Villar was not being truthful in his Panata (Advocacy) TV ad when he claimed that his younger brother Danny died because they did not have the means to provide him proper medical care. Solidly supported by authentic public documents, the expose was a big blow to Kumpareng Manny’s credibility.
Many saw Manny Villar as PEKENG MAHIRAP (fake poor) and a MANLILINLANG (deceiver). Just type on Google “How Manny Villar lied on being poor” and you’ll see the various blog discussions that would confirm how this issue had resonated.

The “Money Villarroyo” issue was hitherto conveyed through coffee shop talk, text messages and campaign trail allegations. That April 1st front page banner story upgraded it with the impact of a major newspaper’s credibility — quoting said reliable sources. Even before that April 1st story, you’ll know that Manny Villar was being seriously affected by the “Money Villarroyo” issue by that OPO TV ad that they’re running. To a veteran communicator, that TV ad would seem to have been crafted to address the “Money Villarroyo” issue.

We cannot help comparing how the Arroyo ‘Kiss of Death’ would affect Manny Villar to how it affected Gilbert Teodoro. Compared to Manny Villar, Gilbert Teodoro is not hounded by many big controversies. Teodoro may have been cited for some bad calls like the lack of action when Typhoon Ondoy struck and for failing to neutralize the Ampatuan threat in Maguindanao — but these were nothing compared to the many big issues hounding Manny Villar.

Comparing personalities, Teodoro would seem to be more attractive than Manny Villar — especially if brought to the level of a face to face debate. And yet we all saw how Arroyo’s ‘Kiss of Death’ had affected Teodoro who could not even manage to hurdle the double digit bar in the SWS and Pulse Asia polls.

In the March SWS poll, before the PEKENG MAHIRAP expose and before the “Mike Villarroyo” front page banner story, Villar had already suffered a marked slide in all socio-economic classes. Between the SWS February and March polls, Villar fell from 33 percent to 17 percent among ABC voters, from 34 percent to 27 percent among Class D (75 percent of base) voters and from 34 percent to 31 percent among Class E (15 percent of base) voters.

If Villar suffered a 6 percent drop in ratings in the March SWS poll, these two new killer issues of PEKENG MAHIRAP and “Mike Villarroyo” could easily trigger a further slide of 10 percent which could drag Villar’s 28 percent SWS March poll rating to 18 percent in April. Expect Joseph Estrada to move up to second place with race leader Noynoy Aquino likely posting a more than 12 percent lead over his closest rival.

Lack of time to recover will confront the Villar camp and the psychological barrier which the two new killer issues will form could prove insurmountable. Dictator Ferdinand Marcos had a media monopoly but that did not prevent his credibility from plummeting to a level of political non-viability and didn’t redeem it after it was lost.

In politics, you can lose adherents and still recover with the right moves and messages. But not after you’ve lost your credibility — not after people start to think that: “We cannot believe you, no matter what you say and do.”

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  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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