Former Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Araneta Roxas II had a beautiful speech before the joint meeting of the Makati Business Club and the Management Association of the Philippines Wednesday, March 30. He spelled out his program of government and what he will do as president. The nation’s top capitalists and traders applauded him no less than ten times. Mar got the heart of Big Business and their vote, but not the vote of their drivers and maids and employees. Those masa votes go to either Grace Poe or Rodrigo Duterte.
BS Aquino’s most trusted cabinet member and best friend promised to move the economy from short pants to long pants, a metaphor for childhood to adulthood, although if you ask me, short pants is certainly “hotter” than long pants, especially with the onset of summer.
Mar promised to revitalize manufacturing (which is 25-30 percent of GDP, he said), tourism (arrivals will double to 12 million, he said), and agriculture (12 percent of GDP) to modernize the economy, create jobs, increase people’s income, and provide them livelihood. He also promised to remove so-called blockages to the economic growth like red tape, poor infra and transport system, slow justice system (“Don’t hire a lawyer,” he told the businessmen), and Ninoy Aquino International Airport (he said he would move it to Clark which has 2,000 hectares and can provide for three runways). The 440 hectares of Naia will be sold as central business district to raise P440 billion.
The point is that Mar held two of the most important jobs in the government—Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Transportation and Communications, why didn’t he do all those things during his five years as BS Aquino’s top lieutenant and bastonero?
Like not hiring lawyers. Why is DoTC hamstrung by so many lawyers? Why are there so many kotong cops so that the sayote that a farmer in Benguet, he says, sells for only P3 or P4 a kilo does not become P50 by the time it reaches Araneta-owned Farmers Market in Cubao? Why? Was it incompetence or failure of will?
Meanwhile, I was looking at the latest survey of Pulse Asia done with ABS-CBN on March 8 to 13, with 4,000 respondents and a margin of error of plus/minus 1.5 percent, at 95 percent confidence level. This, to me, is a reliable survey because the more people participate in pollster interviews, the more accurate the results are. The findings are closer to reality and the closer are the findings to reality. You cannot go smaller than the 1.5 percent margin of error unless you interview the entire universe of 54 million voters.
According to Pulse Asia, as of March 8 to 13, nationwide, Senator Grace is the No. 1 choice of voters, with 26 percent, followed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte 25 percent; Vice President Jejomar Binay 22 percent, and Mar Roxas 20 percent.
With 54.33 million voters and a turnout of 43.469 million, Poe’s 26 percent translates into 11.3 million votes, Duterte’s 25 percent into 10.867 million, Binay’s 22 percent into 9.563 million, and Roxas’s 20 percent into 8.693 million votes. Poe will win the presidency by 433,000 votes—less than half a million.
However, I looked at the voting percentages of the four leading bets by region. The results are quite different. Mayor Duterte could win the presidency—by just a tenth of a percentage point or less than 400,000 votes.
Poe wins in Metro Manila with 30 percent, a percentage ahead of Duterte’s 29 percent; wins in Balance of Luzon with 34 percent, 8 percentage points ahead of Binay’s 26 percent, and 18 points ahead of Duterte’s 16 percent. Poe loses in the Visayas, with 20 percent, to Mar Roxas’ 36 percent, and loses in Mindanao with 15 percent, to Duterte’s 46 percent.
Binay does not win in any region. He is only No. 3 in NCR with 23 percent, No. 2 in Balance of Luzon with 26 percent, No. 2 in the Visayas with 21 percent, and No. 4 in Mindanao with 14 percent.
Pulse Asia divides the Philippines into four regions—NCR with 6.253 million voters; Balance of Luzon 21.16 million voters; Visayas 11.315 million voters; and Mindanao 12.627 million voters. Assuming a voter turnout of 80 percent, NCR has 5.002 million voters on election day, Balance of Luzon 19.328 million, Visayas 11.315 million, and Mindanao 12.627 million.
According to Pulse Asia, Poe has 30 percent of the votes in NCR or 1.5 million votes; Duterte 29 percent or 1.45 million (he loses to Poe by 50,000 votes); Binay 23 percent or 1.15 million (the VP loses to Poe by 350,000 votes), and Roxas a measly 9 percent or 450,180 (he loses to Poe by more than one million votes).
In Balance of Luzon (which is Cordillera, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Bicol, a voter turnout of 19.328 million), Poe again wins, with 34 percent or 6.571 million votes. She is trailed by Binay with 26 percent or 5.025 million votes; Duterte 16 percent or 3.09 million votes, and Roxas 15 percent or 2.899 million votes.
In the Visayas (9.052 million votes), Roxas wins hands down with 36 percent or 3.258 million votes; followed by Binay 21 percent or 1.9 million; Poe 20 percent or 1.81 million; and Duterte 18 percent or 1.629 million. The defection of One Cebu to either Poe or Duterte will deal Binay possibly a mortal blow, in a close fight.
In Mindanao (10.1 million vote turnout), Duterte is unrivaled with 46 percent or 4.64 million votes. Roxas is a poor second with 20 percent or 2.02 million votes, while Poe and Binay bring up the rear, with 15 percent (1.515 million) and 14 percent (1.414 million votes), respectively.
Summing up, Poe will have a national total of 11.396 million votes—1.5 million in Metro Manila, 6.571 million in Balance of Luzon, 1.81 million in Visayas, and 1.515 million in Mindanao.
Duterte battles Poe in a neck-and-neck race. He could win the presidency. He has 10.809 million (less than 600,000 less than Poe’s), with 1.45 million in NCR, 3.09 million in Balance of Luzon, 1.629 million in Visayas, and a whopping 4.64 million in Mindanao.
No wonder Poe and Duterte have concentrated their campaigns in Luzon. Poe wants to solidify her hold on Luzon; Duterte wants to crack it.
If Duterte gains dramatically in Luzon and if Mindanao goes all out for him, the deep south will elect for the first time the Philippine president.