Digong Duterte is gaining, but the numbers of his running mate, Alan Cayetano, are heading inexorably south. Call it the Aldub Effect—proof that the acceptability of one candidate in a presidential-vice presidential teamup doesn’t necessarily help the other.
“Aldub” here, of course, doesn’t refer to the popular noontime show love team, but to what is probably the most prominent political split ticket in the coming elections, which goes by the same name. Aldub is supposedly “Alyansang Duterte-Bongbong,” or the cross-party tandem of Duterte and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Allow me to explain: During a recent campaign sortie in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, leaders of the Duterte-Cayetano tandem tried to convince the senator from Taguig not to join his running mate.
After all, the provinces of Region 1 supposedly lie at the heart of Aldub country, where Duterte is considered by some political groups as something of an adopted son who is a perfect fit for the real native, Marcos. But Cayetano insisted that he wanted to join the campaign sortie, even if he knew that he was going into Marcos territory.
True enough, my sources in the campaign told me, Cayetano was not made to feel welcome during the trip. And while the locals embraced Duterte (probably because he reminded them of the old “Apo” Ferdie at the height of the strongman’s powers), no one of note paid Cayetano any mind.
But because the senator is a seasoned politician, he didn’t let on that he was disappointed. But he probably will know better next time than to join Duterte when his popular presidential candidate visits other perceived strongholds of Marcos—or any other leading vice presidential candidate.
Indeed, according to the new poll by The Standard, Duterte enjoyed a new spike in his latest poll numbers. Apparently, according to our in-house pollster Junie Laylo, this was because of his strong showing in the first Commission on Elections-sponsored presidential debate in Cagayan de Oro City, the most significant political event that took place during the survey period of Feb. 24-March 1.
Indeed, because the debate was held in Mindanao, where the Davao City mayor enjoys “native son” status, respondents to the Laylo survey showed just how much they love Duterte. From an already-gaudy 36 percentage points in all of Mindanao in the previous survey in January, Duterte shot up to what looks like an insurmountable 49 percent.
* * *
On the other hand, Cayetano’s numbers in the same survey tracked the other way. Overall, while Duterte’s poll numbers and ranking significantly improved, Cayetano appeared to be the biggest loser in the same survey.
In the entire country, Cayetano’s numbers fell 15 percent to 11 percent. In Mindanao, it was no different; Cayetano shed five points, from 24 to 19.
But while the advocates of Aldub openly discuss their favored split ticket, they will not directly say that they are dumping Cayetano.
(In a recent golf tournament at the Philippine Navy Golf Course held by the leading lights of Aldub, there was much rousing oratory about a Duterte-Bongbong ticket during the awarding ceremonies—even if no one really declared that the group was basically dumping the senator. And yes, Cayetano calls Taguig City, where the event was held, his home, so the event could not have escaped his attention.)
To me, the only reason for the Aldub advocates’ reticence is the widely-held belief that the senator’s main job is to bankroll Duterte’s campaign. In other words, they don’t want to hurt Cayetano’s feelings—even if they have no problem with declaring that they want another candidate to team up with the popular mayor of Davao City.
And for the life of me, I don’t know how Cayetano can continue to just grin and bear the treachery. Perhaps the senator knows that his is a campaign that really doesn’t have a lot of “legs,” as show folk say; perhaps he just consoles himself with the idea that if Duterte wins, he will assume the role of Mar Roxas in a Noynoy Aquino presidency—even if Cayetano, unlike Mar in 2010, will simply return to serve the second half of his six-year term in the Senate.
Of course, for people who never considered politics as a career (or a family business), it’s very difficult to understand why some people like Cayetano seek an office that they obviously aren’t going to win. Or why politicians seek any office, whether they can win or not, for that matter.
I know people who have spent their entire lives seeking (and sometimes winning) political office. And I still don’t know why they do it.
Maybe they do it, like the guy who first climbed Mount Everest—because it’s there. If I ever run into Cayetano, I’ll ask why he seeks the vice presidency even when people appear unwilling to give it to him.