THE Liberal Party is confident that Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s entry in the presidential race will not take away the crucial “Ilonggo vote” from the already survey-laggard Manuel Roxas II, who also traces his roots to the vote-rich region.
“[Miriam] may take some votes there, but we think that she will get the votes from those who haven’t supported Secretary Mar yet,” Team Daang Matuwid spokesman Federico Quimbo said Friday.
“As far as Iloilo and Panay are concerned, the votes for Secretary Mar are solid as a rock. In the case of Senator Miriam, she is leading here in Metro Manila and Secretary Mar’s other opponent.” Santiago, who hails from Iloilo City, will be facing another Ilonggo, Manuel Roxas II, who traces his roots to Roxas City in Capiz. Both areas are in Panay and they form the so-called “Ilonggo vote.”
Data from the Commission on Elections show that as of 2010, the region had more than four million registered voters. The newly formed Negros Island Region consists of Negros Occidental, which used to be part of Western Visayas, and Negros Oriental, which used to be part of Central Visayas.
Another Ilonggo presidential candidate, Senator Grace Poe was abandoned as an infant at the Jaro Cathedral in 1968.
Quimbo acknowledged that Santiago may clinch some votes from other candidates, especially in a four-way or five-way race. But he is not bothered given the LP’s six-year track record in governance.
“Any new candidate will always affect the configuration. These candidates will always get part of the votes, most especially like Senator Miriam,” Quimbo said.
“But we want to go back to the basics that we will win not on the basis of who is the competitor, but on how are we going to reach out to the voters on the effectiveness of the straight path, and we have six months to do that.”
Quimbo said they would be hitting the ground running to further improve Roxas’ numbers in the preferential polls, including those of his running-mate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni” Robredo.
“We are very conscious about these changes in the numbers but what is important is that in the past few weeks, we were able to double his ratings, he is now number 2, literally taking over the Vice President [Jejomar Binay]. We need to keep continuing to do it better in the next few months,” Quimbo said.
“Leni, meanwhile, her basic problem is awareness, the challenge is we need to keep exposing her to mass media and tell her narrative to make people know her.”