According to election analyst and Stratbase ADR Institute founder Dindo Manhit, the Mega Manila area is the critical battlefield for the 2022 elections.
With days before polling day on May 9, candidates ramp up their campaign efforts as they barnstorm over different areas in the Philippines in hopes of securing voters in their bid for government posts.
In an interview with Karen Davilla, Manhit highlighted the volume of Metro Manila voters, which numbers 7.3 million, according to Commission on Elections (COMELEC) data.
For the analyst, leads in other provinces with large voting populations can be offset by other provinces. “Cebu can be offset by other provinces in the Visayan region like Iloilo and Negros Occidental,” Manhit said.
When asked if the importance of the capital region vote is based on historical trends, the analyst affirmed. “Cebu being on top is important, don't lose much, get your team to fight their way there, but always remember that who wins Metro Manila and who wins the rest of Luzon wins the presidency of the Philippines,” he added.
Around 56% of the voting population comes from Luzon. According to Manhit, Vice President and presidential aspirant Leni Robredo built her campaign from Bicol to Southern Luzon.
Manhit added that Robredo’s campaign now depends on her volunteers, as he raised that volunteers have to come out and deliver votes for her bid.
“In elections, the preferences can still change. As of March, 49% said that they can change their votes. That is relevant when it's a tight race but people are saying that there is a big lead for [former] Senator Marcos. So the big challenge is how you engage and how you convert,” Manhit said.
In the 2016 vice presidential race where Robredo won, the vice president led election results from Southern Luzon, Visayas and Northern Mindanao but lost to Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos in Manila.
In recent weeks, the turnout of Robredo’s campaign rallies in Metro Manila consistently surpassed the hundred thousand mark, while Marcos consolidated support from provinces in Visayas and Mindanao.
Basti Evangelista is a news and opinion writer who focuses on Philippine national politics and sectoral issues. His personal advocacy includes press freedom and social justice.
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