Personal attacks, though present from the start of the national campaign, have intensified the last few days, both in the senatorial and local campaigns. At the senatorial level, we have witnessed the disparagement of candidate Nancy Binay as having the sole credentials as “vice-presidential daughter” and nothing else. Senator Loren Legarda was accused by a certain Biraogo, a “media publicist,” of stashing hidden wealth in New York’s fashionable Park Avenue in the form of a million-dollar apartment. Juan “Jackie” Ponce Enrile, Jr. has his alleged murderous misdeeds of Marcos dictatorial years, including the death of then-popular movie star Alfie Anido, brought back into the limelight. Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan, Jr. likewise experienced a public flashback of his alleged 1986 key role in the abduction and gruesome murder of Atty. Rolando Olalia and his driver, Leonor Alay-ay when the case against former Col. Kapunan had a hearing.
Earlier in March, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri had their face-off regarding the alleged “battered wife” of the former. Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero also had his media share in the tiff between his girlfriend, actress Heart Evangelista, and her parents.
The attacks, at the senatorial campaign level, evidently had something to do with the fierce and closely-fought electoral contests: one, for the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth place, and, two, for the coveted number one position in the victory list.
According to the latest Pulse Asia survey, done last April 20-22, 2013, seven candidates have clear chances of maintaining or barging into the last three places in the 12-person senatorial slots open for election. These are Pimentel, Angara, Zubiri, Honasan, Enrile, Hontiveros, and Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. The first nine slots appear to have firmed up, according to the survey.
An earlier Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, conducted last April 13-15, 2013, also indicated a firming up of the first nine slots. However, it listed six to eight candidates within hitting distance of the 10th to 12th seats still open. These are Poe, Trillanes, Enrile, Honasan, Zubiri, R. Magsaysay, Madrigal and Hontiveros.
The case of Senator Loren Legarda is a different one. Since she has maintained her number one position in both surveys, she certainly is a big target for those aspiring for the seat. The reason, of course, is that it is a historical launching pad for presidential candidacy. Since the 2016 presidential election is already being fought for in the current campaign—with Vice-President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay a declared candidate—the first three Senate slots are an inviting target for those who have the 2016 ambition also.
Entering the homestretch, every card in these candidates’ war chest is being pulled out in dealt. Personal attacks—considering the personalistic nature of traditional politics—are par for the course. If there is a kitchen sink somewhere, it will certainly be thrown in, for good measure.