A Robredo-Marcos Jr. rematch in 2022?

A Robredo-Marcos Jr. rematch in 2022?

Jan 10, 2022, 2:16 AM
Temario C. Rivera

Temario C. Rivera


ANOTHER face-off between Leni Robredo and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. looms large, in what may very well be the most consequential presidential election since the end of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.

Credible survey results in December 2021 show that Marcos Jr. is the undisputed early frontrunner, receiving more than half of voter preferences for the presidency (53% and 54% in the Pulse Asia and OCTA Research surveys, respectively).

The same surveys also show that among the major opposition presidential candidates, only Vice President Robredo posted a significant upward gain in her ratings while the others (Mayor Isko Moreno and Senators Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson) either had stagnant or decreased voter preferences.

From her single-digit ratings in earlier surveys, Robredo received 20% voter preference in Pulse Asia’s latest survey, positioning herself as the strongest opposition candidate by year’s end.

While the overall political context is different in the May presidential election, the rematch between Robredo and Marcos Jr. had results with continuing relevance.

In their vice-presidential race in 2016, Robredo won over Marcos Jr. by a close margin of 278,566 votes after the Presidential Electoral Tribunal made a final recount of contested votes in response to a petition filed by him.

A relative political neophyte seeking a national position in 2016, Robredo also won over veteran politicians who included Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Antonio Trillanes IV and Gregorio Honasan.

Proven bases

Among the presidential aspirants, only Robredo and Marcos Jr. have proven national electoral bases and regional bailiwicks.

Lacson and Pacquiao won as senators in less demanding contests for seats in a 12-person Senate slate.

A first-term mayor of Manila, Moreno has no proven national base and actually lost in his first run for a Senate seat in 2016.

A confluence of opportune factors has propelled Marcos Jr.’s early huge lead over his rivals.

Running in tandem with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, he has received the bulk of the still considerable pro-Duterte voter base, further magnifying the ethnolinguistic bailiwick votes of the two families.

Marcos Jr. also has a dominant presence and sleek campaign projection in social media built on the false premise of restoring (Babangon muli tayo) the fancied glory days of the country during his father’s dictatorship.

Fueled by the enormous wealth and ill-gotten resources accumulated during the dictatorship, as the Supreme Court had ruled, his campaign has so far resonated well across all geographic areas and social classes.

While Marcos Jr. is the de facto administration candidate due to his team-up with Mayor Duterte, he has not been endorsed by her father President Duterte or by the Cusi faction of the “ruling” PDP-Laban party.

In fact, the President has publicly expressed displeasure at Marcos Jr., labelling him a “weak leader” and a “cocaine user” with no significant achievements to speak of.

If Mr. Duterte’s displayed aversion towards Marcos Jr. is for real, he may yet endorse for the presidency one of the other opposition candidates like Moreno or Pacquiao. The mayor of Manila has in fact welcomed this possibility -- an event that could inject an unexpected problem into Marcos Jr.’s candidacy.

Comelec petitions

A more unsettling problem for Marcos Jr. lies in the petitions lodged at the Commission on Elections to cancel his certificate of candidacy (CoC) for his failure to file income tax returns when he was a local official in the family bailiwick Ilocos Norte between 1982 and 1985.

In the context of the election campaign, the petitions for the cancellation of Marcos Jr.’s CoC gain added significance because these bring to light many of the valid issues against him and his family that have long been shielded from public scrutiny and accountability.

Among the opposition presidential candidates, Robredo is the only one who can credibly argue that she has not been in any way linked to the many alleged abuses and atrocities committed under Mr. Duterte’s watch.

Her persona and leadership style sharply depart from the dark iconoclasm and authoritarianism of Mr. Duterte, a tradition with which Marcos Jr. is comfortably familiar.

Among the presidential aspirants, Robredo is in the best position to craft an agenda of government that is not hobbled by the fatal mindset and practices of the outgoing administration.

She has four months to present a clear vision of governance to fire the imagination of the masses and transform this into winning votes.

Tags: #LeniRobredo, #BongbongMarcos, #PresidentialCandidcate, #Election2022, #COMELEC

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