MANILA (2nd UPDATE)—Otso Diretso bet Mar Roxas on Thursday attributed his recent drop in pre-election surveys to his nearly month-long absence in the campaign scene.
Roxas flew to the United States twice in the middle of the campaign to welcome his newborn twins with his wife, broadcaster Korina Sanchez.
“Nawala ako halos 20 days. Sinundo ko yung pamilya ko,” Roxas told reporters on the sidelines of a forum in Quezon City.
“Sa dami ng tumatakbo, if mawala ka for a number of days may impact ’yun [kasi] sila naman nangangampaniya, nagra-rally.
“I wish it did not happen but since it happened, OK lang. Ginawa ko naman ang para sa pamilya ko, priority ko ’yun.
“OK lang ’yan, may one month pa naman. Campaign pa more.”
Asked if he will campaign with opposition ticket Otso Diretso in the coming days, Roxas replied, “I’m going to campaign as hard as I can in the next 30 days, 30 days plus one day, so ganun lang yan.”
Roxas’ voter support dipped by 8.5 percentage points to 31.9 percent, according to Pulse Asia’s survey conducted from March 23 to 27.
The 61-year-old politician fell to 11th to 16th places, behind re-electionists and administration-backed candidates.
While Roxas points to personal matters, political analysts believe there are other factors behind his lackluster standing.
Edmund Tayao said Roxas’ recent survey numbers have been dismal because his campaign thrust of improving the economy did not resonate with voters.
“He’s been focusing on economic issues, but the period when the survey was done also saw the news where the country was seen as doing well in the economy,” Tayao told ABS-CBN News.
News about slowing inflation and the Philippine peso emerging as the “best performing currency in Asia” came out in March, too, and “somehow negates” Roxas’ campaign thrust, Tayao added.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity and negative campaigning against opposition bets play factors in Roxas’ slide in the recent Pulse Asia poll, political analyst Ramon Casiple said.
Last month, Duterte blasted Roxas for his supposed lack of achievements during his tenure as Communications, and Interior secretary during the Aquino administration.
Roxas was Communications chief when the MRT was hit by several maintenance issues. He was Interior secretary when 44 Special Action Force members were brutally killed by insurgents in Mamasapano after the police failed to communicate the operation to its military counterparts.
“Mar has a big burden in carrying the non-performance of the Aquino administration,” Casiple said.
“The negative campaign strategy against the opposition is affecting him.”
Roxas’ camp said he needs to campaign in more areas to catch up in the last 30 days of the campaign.
The former Liberal Party standard-bearer has yet to woo voters in Mindanao, the bailiwick of Duterte who defeated Roxas by about 6 million votes in the 2016 presidential race.
--With a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News