PNoy fails to curb Bongbong Marcos' survey rise

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - President Benigno S. Aquino III's criticisms of Senator Bongbong Marcos and his family's Martial Law legacy has failed to stop the senator from rising to become one of the top choices to be the country’s next vice-president.

From a low of 6% in the September 8 to 15, 2014 Pulse Asia Survey and 1% in the June 8 to 15, 2015 SWS Survey, Marcos rose to number one in the March 8 to 13, 2016 ABS-CBN Survey by Pulse Asia with a score of 25%. Marcos also placed number one in the February 5 to 7, 2016 survey of SWS.

Marcos effectively caught up with consistent vice-presidential survey frontrunner Senator Francis Escudero, with whom he has been statistically tied in recent surveys.

All of these happened as President Aquino criticized Senator Marcos and his family every chance he got, especially during the 30th anniversary of the 1986 People Power revolution in February, which commemorates the fall of the Marcoses from power in 1986.

The President delivered some of his most stinging criticisms during the anniversary rites. “Totoo nga naman po ang kasabihan: Ang kasalanan ng ama ay hindi dapat ipataw sa anak. Pero ang masakit: ‘Yun pong kadugo ng diktador, sa mahabang panahon ay puwede namang sinabing, 'Nagkamali ang aking ama' o 'Nagkamali kami; bigyan n’yo kami ng pagkakataong iwasto ito.' Pero isipin na lang po ninyo, ito ang tahasang naging pagsagot niya, 'I am ready to say sorry if I knew what I have to be sorry for.' Kung hindi man lang niya makita ang mali sa ginawa ng kanilang pamilya, paano tayo aasang hindi niya ito uulitin? Ang akin nga, thank you na lang, dahil kahit papaano nagpakatotoo ka sa pagpapakitang handa kang tularan ang iyong ama. Linawin ko na rin lang po: Hindi ito usapin ng Aquino laban sa Marcos; malinaw na malinaw sa akin na laban ito ng tama at mali. Hayagan kong sinasabi ngayon, bilang bahagi ng henerasyong pinagdusa ng diktadurya: Hindi golden age ang panahon ni Ginoong Marcos. Isa itong napakasakit na yugto ng ating kasaysayan kaya nga po naglakas-loob ang napakarami sa ating kababayan na magtipon sa EDSA at sa ibang lugar sa labas ng Metro Manila, tangan ang pananampalataya at paninindigan. Nagawa nating magkaisa, at sa biyaya ng Poong Maykapal, ay pinatalsik natin ang diktadurya nang hindi humahantong sa madugong himagsikan.”

President Aquino and Senator Marcos are both scions of families who have been longtime rivals in Philippine politics. The President’s father Senator Ninoy Aquino was a rival of Senator Marcos’ father President Ferdinand Marcos.

Senator Ninoy Aquino was imprisoned and assassinated during the Marcos dictatorship. President Aquino’s mother, Cory Aquino, faced Marcos in the 1986 snap presidential elections. Both sons are considered heirs to the legacies of their parents.

MARCOS RISE IN SURVEYS

University of the Philippines (UP) political science professor Jean Franco said the current administration’s failure to deliver good basic services to the public may be partly credited for Senator Marcos’ rise.

“[Marcos] is in fact strong among the ABC class and NCR. These are people with more access to information and would have likely been informed of these attacks. I think his candidacy as well as Duterte's brought the need to address perceived criminality and lack of discipline in the country. These are people who are concerned with traffic and security, which they think were not sufficiently addressed by the present administration,” Franco stated.

Another UP political science professor, Ranjit Rye, said “A last issue has to do with performance legitimacy. Many argue President Noynoy's poor performance as an executive on many governance issues has made him a less credible critic.”

Rye added, “While the issues against the Marcoses are legitimate, still, other more pressing issues, such as poverty and unemployment are prevailed by more voters. For them, the Marcos is not the issue. Third, BBM's (Bongbong Marcos) popularity is ethnic and regional. This base of support is consolidated and continues to make him a popular choice for VP. They're support for BBM is based not only on so called Marcos nostalgia, but also a belief in his competence to lead. Many Ilocano point out to me his executive competence as a former governor of Ilocos Norte.”

Rye also noted “the campaign against him just started and as more people are informed, it is likely to have (an) impact on his numbers in the final weeks of the campaign."

Pulse Asia Research Director Ana Tabunda explained Marcos’ standing in the latest survey where Marcos is now marginally ahead of Escudero.

"Marginally ahead ang nangyayari dito. Talaga namang sila ang malakas sa NCR at balance of Luzon. Dati na 'yun na nga medyo bumagsak ng konti ang voter preference for Sen. Marcos dahil sa EDSA commemoration, pero ngayon siguro hindi na ganun kaano yung issue na yun. Humahabol na naman siya kay Sen. Escudero,” Tabunda explained.

For Tabunda, it also appears to be another manifestation of the weakening of the EDSA spirit. "Mukhang ganu’n, mukhang marami tayong kababayan na di talaga naalala yung martial law years or kung naalala man eh sinasabi iba naman ito, hindi ito yung ama. May ganu’ng factor: iba naman siya, iba na panahon."

De La Salle university political science Professor Julio Teehankee meanwhile noted that the administration candidate Leni Robredo appears to be the only strong anti-Marcos candidate.

"Sa VP, it’s going to be interesting because the two frontrunners, Escudero and Bongbong, are going toe-to-toe and Bongbong seems to be surging. Escudero's numbers are falling and yet you also have Cayetano who is not really competitive. Ang point natin, si Leni ay nag-iisang humihiwalay sa tatlong lalakeng kandidato sa pagk-VP na, more or less, identified with the Marcoses... Si Leni ang nag-iisang tumatayo at nagsasabi, 'Leni Robredo ang nag-iisang anti-Marcos sa ating mga kandidato.'"

Communication Secretary Sonny Coloma responded for the administration.

"Against lies and deception, truth and reason are a freedom loving people's most effective weapons for resolutely resisting the enticements of those who deny the reality of oppression during the martial rule regime. As we create heightened awareness about the evils wrought by the dictatorship, we empower our people to take concrete action by making an informed choice on election day,'' he said.

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