Sara Duterte will run for president

"How winnable is she?"


The political climate has become muddled, five days before the Nov. 15 filing of substitutions for candidates who filed their certificates of candidacy in early October. New battle lines are being drawn.

Davao Mayor Sara Duterte will run for president. She will run solo –without a vice presidential tandem, meaning even without Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the picture.

Interestingly, Senator Bong Go announced yesterday in Antipolo he is withdrawing his candidacy for vice president—creating in the process a slot for whoever is Sara’s running mate.

The Sara camp has decided that Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr. is a flawed candidate for president.

Firstly, because of his tax issue disqualification; secondly, the non-issue over his supposedly lying about what exactly did he finish at Oxford; and thirdly, because of the 20-year regime of Ferdinand Marcos which if you believe the Yellow Army was marked by plunder, up to $10 billion (of which wealth little has been proven or recovered), and alleged human rights violations (up to 10,000 were claimed to have been victims).

My answer to the last two issues –Oxford and plunder, is this: Former President Joseph Estrada was a college dropout. He was convicted of plunder, though later pardoned.

Yet, when Erap ran again for president in 2010, he almost won, were it not for the fact that Cory Aquino died in August 2009. Her son, Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III rode on the crest of goodwill generated by a grieving nation. In addition, the head of the Filipino church, Iglesia ni Cristo, Eraño de Guzman Manalo, died on August 31, 2009. The INC has command votes of more than two million and it had always supported Erap until 2010. If those command votes were not given to Noynoy and transferred to Erap instead, the former president would have won handily in 2010.

What is the lesson in Erap’s case? There are two. One, voters don’t mind about your college education (you can be a dropout or a little deficient in intellectual articulation); and two, plunder could be a non-issue if voters like you or trust you as their president.

Before Erap, the most popular president in history was Ramon Magsaysay, president from 1954 to 1957. A mechanical engineer, he was not exactly famous for intellectual heft.

As to human rights violations, well, Digong Duterte is similarly accused. But he remains very popular, with 67 percent still satisfied with his job performance.

So we are left with Bongbong’s disqualification on the issue of taxes, specifically, non-filing and therefore, non-payment of taxes.

For failure to file his income tax returns and accordingly, not paying taxes, the young Marcos is said to be guilty of a crime called moral turpitude. This highfalutin word could mean any wrongdoing that violates the accepted standard of a community.

Former Supreme Court Justice Tony Carpio thinks Bongbong should be disqualified from running for president. On the ground of moral turpitude.

He cites the Court of Appeals decision that ordered Marcos Jr. to pay “deficiency income tax due with interest,” apart from the fine that he paid because of non-filing of ITRs.

Even if the CA removed the jail sentence imposed by a regional trial court against Marcos for his conviction for not filing his income tax returns, Carpio contends it’s still a valid basis to kick him out of the race.

“Since Marcos Jr. was ordered to pay deficiency income taxes due, there was tax evasion which inherently involves moral turpitude. Marcos Jr. cannot escape moral turpitude under the CA decision,” he explains.

Is Sara Duterte winnable as president?

A study commissioned by the Sara camp shows that she is a stronger candidate than Bongbong for the highest post in the land.

The paper looked at the Pulse Asia surveys of June 7 – 16, 2021 and September 6-11, 2021. These surveys both mention Mayor Duterte and former Senator Marcos, and were conducted by the same firm and are therefore comparable in methodology. 

Both polls show Mayor Duterte to be leading, initially with a 15-point lead over Senator Marcos, and a smaller 5-point lead in the latter survey. 

Both results consider Mayor Duterte then denying that she will run for President; hence these numbers may conceal actual support for Mayor Duterte if she were to declare herself a candidate.

The June Pulse Asia survey shows Mayor Duterte winning in all income classes (ABC, D, and E). This would have been weaker, but consistent, with President Todrigo Duterte’s performance in the 2016 elections, where, according to the SWS exit poll, he won all income classes.

The September Pulse Asia survey still shows Mayor Duterte leading among classes D and E, and within the margin of error for the lead in classes ABC (16 percent), behind Manila Mayor Isko Moreno (20 percent) who actually lost 1 percentage point from his June performance in the same class, and Fmr. Senator Marcos (18 percent, a gain of 1 percentage point from June).

Both surveys appear to show Mayor Duterte having broader inter-class appeal than any other option in the surveys. 

Thus, both Duterte-Marcos would have a stronger chance of winning because:

1) Duterte voters are more likely to carry the running-mate with their candidate on top;

2) Duterte-solid areas account for a larger share of the national vote than Marcos-solid areas;

3) There are more Marcos-averse areas than Duterte-averse areas, with the former being potentially more emphasized if a Marcos-Duterte ticket were to be agreed upon.

In other words, a Duterte-Marcos tandem would have a bigger core, a bigger neighborhood of non-core areas that can be appealed to.

On the other hand, 27 percent of voters speak Ilocano. That is 13.5 million voters based on a 50-million voter turnout. Another 25 percent speak Cebuano. That is 12.5 million. Ilocanos are 90 percent loyal to a Marcos. So Bongbong could get 12.15 million votes. Using Digong Duterte’s 67 percent approval rating, 8.14 million Cebuano-speakers of Visayas and Mindanao would go to Sara. So 12.15 minus 8.14 is 4.01 million votes—BBM’s advantage.

Add the 4 percent who are Warays, or two million. They should be 98 percent loyal to a Marcos whose mother Imelda is a Waray, the most famous Waray. So add 1.96 million to BBM’s 12.15 million to get 14.11 million, 5,97 million more than Sara’s potential 8.14 million loyal votes.

If Manny Pacquiao pursues his presidential bid, he will further cut into Sara’s votes.

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Topics: Tony Lopez , Mayor Sara Duterte , Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr. , presidential candidate
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