Cebuano voters’ preference-A A +A
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
HOW many showed up at the rally of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) at the Plaza Independencia Tuesday night? Twenty-five thousand people, wrote The Freeman. Fifty thousand, said the Cebu Daily News. Between 25,000 to 90,000, reported Sun.Star Cebu.
Confusing, isn’t it?
Until we can come up with a scientific method of counting warm bodies in a crowd, can we just please stop this practice of estimating the attendance in a gathering of more than a thousand people? As it is, everything is just guesswork.
Instead of offering numbers that are, by experience, immediately suspect, why don’t we just classify a crowd as small, medium and large? Or maybe, adopt the range used in describing the size of a woman’s brassiere? The point is to fix a range and thus limit the extent of the estimator’s imagination.
Anyway, let us just say that the crowd at the UNA rally was huge. So what does that tell us? That the Cebuanos have taken the UNA senatorial ticket into their warm embrace? That Vice President Jejomar Binay, former president Erap Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, politicians who have never been big winners here, are now the Pied Piper of the Cebuano vote?
It is easy to get swept off one’s feet by the exuberant atmosphere in a large and adoring crowd. In 2010, cheering crowds greeted Gibo Teodoro in his campaign sorties in Cebu, moving Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia to vow to deliver to the Lakas presidential candidate one million votes here. We all know what happened during the elections.
What Teodoro’s experience has taught is that it is difficult to predict the outcome of an election on the basis of the number of people attending your rallies, especially if many, if not most, of them have been bused to the venue. The show of support has to be spontaneous, not staged.
I witnessed an example of spontaneous support in 1992 when former governor Eddie Gullas formally launched his political comeback with a motorcade from Sibonga to Talisay. In all the towns that the motorcade passed, people paused and cheered when they saw Eddiegul. I saw a number of elderly people cry. Needless to say, Eddiegul won by a landslide.
Incidentally, in that same election, Eddiegul campaigned harder for then presidential candidate Danding Cojuangco than for himself, repeatedly telling people privately and in rallies that if their decision would come to a choice between voting for him or for Danding, he would be happier if they voted for the latter. Despite Eddiegul’s pleas, Danding still lost in his district.
Again, what does that tell us? That when it comes to voting for national candidates, the Cebuano voter will not be herded by any leader because he will listen only to his inner voice. For a politician to promise victory to a presidential or senatorial candidate, it is a perilous exercise. For the same reason, claiming credit for a victory is a deception.
In the last three successive presidential elections, Cebu voted as one for a presidential candidate: Lito Osmeña in 1998, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004 and Noynoy Aquino in 2010. In all three instances, no single politician can rightfully say that he or she was responsible for the overwhelming victory. It was the people’s initiative that did it. The local politicians were irrelevant.
So to answer the question, will the Cebuanos listen to Enrile, Estrada and Binay and vote for UNA’s senatorial candidates? Or will they heed PNoy’s voice and vote Liberal? I say neither. We will listen only to ourselves.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 14, 2013.