Wenceslao: Homestretch

·3 min read

Candidates are apparently starting to get tense now. We are on the homestretch. In the presidential election, Team Leni Robredo is hoping its bet is closing the distance in popularity surveys, but I say those surveys no longer matter. They have not reflected the strength of the Robredo campaign on the ground for so long. Still, the correctness of my estimation will only be reflected in the count.

I am confident in a Robredo win, and that has left me at peace as we reach the homestretch of the elections. I have my arguments for that, and I may have to lay that out. But let me note first that I am a person who relies heavily on instinct. It means that a chunk of my confidence is based on a hunch and is not necessarily based on science.

This has turned out to be a race between the former dictator’s son and namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. I don’t call him BBM because it is a euphemism and tends to erase the memories of all the hateful things the dictatorship committed before its downfall. I call him like he is: Marcos Jr.

Marcos Jr. and Robredo first ran against each other in 2016, when Robredo was largely unknown and Marcos Jr. didn’t have the full support yet of the diehard Duterte fanatics. Duterte’s candidate then was Alan Peter Cayetano. Robredo defeated Marcos Jr. by a margin enough to give the latter a reason to file an electoral protest. He lost for a second time, this time in the electoral tribunal.

So Robredo is no longer an unknown entity this time around, which is a plus for her. But his “kingmaker” Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo wisely forged a team-up between him and Duterte. And even if the President is not officially campaigning for Marcos Jr., Duterte fanatics are warming up to the Marcos-Duterte pairing. Which means that Marcos loyalists have merged with Duterte fanatics, which is a plus.

But almost six years of the Duterte presidency also changed the landscape as far as the Duterte supporters are concerned. Many of them have shifted allegiance to the other presidential bets. Some of my friends and relatives who were vocal in their support of Duterte in 2016 have gone silent. Noteworthy are the progressives who are now supporting Robredo. Some Duterte fanatics are also anti-Marcos, which has weakened organizational support for the former dictator’s son.

Finally, I take this as a battle between the forces of liberal democracy represented by Robredo and the ultra-right forces represented by Marcos. In a way this is a repeat of the election featuring Marcos Sr. and Cory Aquino. In a way also, Isko Moreno is correct when he feels left out in this race. When elephants fight, the mouse should scamper away.

But unlike in 2016 when Duterte won, the tide has clearly shifted. I consider this election as a revenge by the forces of liberal democracy, like what happened in the US when Joe Biden won the presidency. Finally, I don’t think the US is standing idly

by like before. I don’t like it, but I’m practical.

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