The campaign season is in full swing and heating up, quite literally, with the Philippine summer sun. What pushed the campaign’s momentum is the onset of the campaigns for local posts, and we expect more of the fiesta to be louder and more intense.
How does this momentum relate to the candidates’ momentum based on national survey results? Political pundits have always mentioned this concept of a campaign’s or a candidate’s momentum as if it follows the laws of Newtonian physics. If the surveys get better for a candidate, they say that candidate has momentum; otherwise, it “loses steam” or worse, “comes to a full stop.”
If this concept of momentum is to be believed, then there is no other force that would either speed up or slow down than one’s political machinery, the influence of which would be felt by its performance in the local campaigns. Political machinery, at its core of nuts and bolts, is built on grassroots networks, network of alliances, and their ability to get the support of electorate from the ground level.
Our own political pundits believe that only two candidates have such machinery—and one of them is Vice President Jejomar Binay. His story in the 2010 elections is proof of his political machinery generating his momentum: He wasn’t leading in the polls in the early phases of the vice presidential race, but he surged in the surveys by the end of March, more by April, and grabbed the lead by May. This momentum coincided with the roll out of the local level campaigns. This was more due to his touch points with the masa in the countryside rather than missteps from his opponents. It was all about getting in touch with the everyday Filipino’s needs.
VP Binay’s pro-poor platform is the chassis on which the machinery is built, made robust by comprehensive socio-economic reforms that benefit the business sector and various industries, while keeping in mind the delivery of the basic needs and services for those who need them the most.
For instance, only the VP had enough vision to implement a concrete program for our senior citizens which was clearly shown in his projects for Makati. This cutting edge program was implemented nationwide through sister cities. While candidates with lesser vision would laugh at initiatives like giving birthday cakes to seniors, acts like these have a big sentimental impact.
It wasn’t about the cakes. It was about reaching out to them, taking their pulse, and getting down to the heart of the matter: they need care and attention.
There are 8.2-million senior citizens in the country who, unlike younger people that proliferate the social media, would most likely have the patience to line up to vote for their preferred presidential candidate. VP Binay’s vision is to provide P20,000 per month for each barangay’s Senior Citizen Association. There being 17,000 barangays in the country, this would translate to a yearly budget of a mere P4 billion. I agree that this sum should be implemented as soon as possible to give due importance to our elders.
Platforms such as these are aimed right into the heart of underprivileged Filipinos. Tumatatak sa puso, in the vernacular. How can any campaign claim to have the hearts for the masses when they have not muddied their feet with the impoverished and underprivileged? How can one claim to know the needs of the farmers and laborers when experience alone cannot account for an established and lasting relationship with and knowledge of them?
This is why the term political machinery, particularly in the context of VP Binay, is a misnomer: it has the Filipino’s heart at its core. This is why I believe VP Binay’s statement that he will win by four million votes has factual basis. What the surveys do not take into account—at least not yet—is the political capital that VP Binay has invested in during his more than 20 years as a local leader.