UNA rally and Cebu’s voting pattern-A A +A
Monday, February 11, 2013
LEADERS of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) expect to gather 50,000 people for their proclamation rally this afternoon at the Plaza Independencia. The target is quite ambitious but definitely not impossible to achieve. Note that aside from the governor and the Cebu City mayor, the opposition alliance also has in its ranks at least three of Cebu’s district representatives, namely Pablo Garcia (2nd), his son Pablo John (3rd) and Benhur Salimbangon (4th).
This being UNA’s opening salvo, the need to make a huge impact cannot be over-emphasized. The eyes of the entire nation will be on them today and what better way to jumpstart a campaign than having thousands of people fill up every inch of space in the historic plaza. That is the stuff that earns banner headlines in the morning papers as well as in the prime time television news programs.
But impressive as the number may be, one has to remember that 50,000 is only two percent of Cebu’s total voting population of 2.5 million. Thus, even assuming that all the people who attend the rally will vote straight for the UNA senatorial ticket, it will not guarantee a victory for the “Three Kings” and their princes and princesses in Cebu. They’d probably need 600,000 more.
Because the surveys on voters’ preferences in the senatorial race do not specify the numbers that each candidate polled in Cebu, we still do not have any scientific basis for predicting who are likely to win here if the elections were held now. Our voting pattern does not necessarily follow that of the others; thus, we can’t say for certain that because Loren Legarda and Chiz Escudero are leading the national surveys, they are also number one and two here. The Cebuano voter is a maverick when it comes to Senate races.
This is especially so in this particular election where there is no Cebuano candidate.
The closest to being a “local boy” are Koko Pimentel and Migz Zubiri but whether the Cebuanos will embrace them as closely as they would a native son, remains to be seen.
Also, it would be interesting to find out who between the President and the Three Kings the Cebuano voter would trust to vet the senatorial aspirants.
I’m sure that it is not lost to UNA strategists that Aquino won overwhelmingly in Cebu in the 2010 elections. On the other hand, when Erap Estrada, one of the Three Kings (the others: Vice President Jojo Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile) won the presidency in 1998, he fared poorly in Cebu. Binay himself lost by a wide margin to Mar Roxas three years ago while Enrile has not had much success here, too.
But while Aquino has remained popular, Binay leads him in that category. Enrile also enjoys high trust ratings. A national survey had indicated that the combined endorsement of the three UNA leaders outweighs that of the President. Is the picture the same in Cebu?
Quite significantly, two days before their Cebu grand opening, UNA spokesman Toby Tiangco was reported as saying that the alliance has no rule prohibiting its candidates from attacking Aquino. Does this signal a shift in UNA’s campaign strategy?
We should have a better handle of that after today’s rally. Will we see Mitos Magsaysay, for example, resume the scathing attacks she made against Aquino during the early months of his presidency? If she does, will it endear her to the Cebuanos?
That and many others I would like to find out. Yes, I am going to Plaza Independencia at 6 o’clock this afternoon. Now, the UNA needs only 49,999 more warm bodies to hit their target.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 12, 2013.