Binay’s chances

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Friday, July 25, 2014


IF THE presidential elections were held today, Vice President Jejomar Binay would be the runaway winner. That’s what the results of a Pulse Asia survey conducted from June 24, 2014 to July 2, 2014 show. Of the 1,200 respondents, 41 percent preferred Binay.

He led by 29 percent the second placer, Sen. Grace Poe, who got only 12 percent.

I don’t think it would be correct to throw the results of such surveys in the trash can. Experience has shown that surveys conducted by Pulse Asia and its rival, Social Weather Stations (SWS), are almost always reliable when it comes to measuring voters’ preference. So instead of refuting the survey results, these should rather be used as guide.

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If Binay and his supporters are rejoicing now, I won’t blame them. This means he has been successful thus far in projecting a good image to the voters. But he also knows how fickle the minds of those voters are. Between now to 2016, there still exists twists in the setup.

Binay has so far been able to steer clear of controversies. He has put off, for example, directly confronting two issues that could make or break his presidential run. The first is the nature of his relation with President Noynoy Aquino and his administration. The second is his attitude with regards to his political allies linked to corrupt acts.

Even as PNoy’s approval rating dipped in recent surveys, Binay still refused to openly criticize him and his administration. Rumors say Binay is being coddled by a faction of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan, but that is only part of the reason, the other part being that he does not want to alienate himself from the pro-Binay chunk of Aquino’s supporters.

Binay is with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) whose two other pillars are Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada. Enrile and Erap’s son, Jinggoy, are facing plunder charges in relation to the multi-billion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

Binay has so far refused to dissociate himself from the alleged plunderers. Instead, he wisely issued bits of statements that tended to give support to his allies. I say “tended” as opposed to “direct” and “all-out.” Mostly, though, he didn’t comment on his allies’ predicament.

As 2016 nears, however, Binay will have to come out from hiding and confront those issues squarely. He will have to peel himself off from Pnoy and criticize his administration. And he will have to openly support his beleaguered allies.

Incidentally, reports say he has not jettisoned plans to have Jinggoy as his running mate.

Once Binay does these, it would be interesting to find out if his ratings in surveys will remain high.

Another Binay advantage at this point is that the presidential poll picture is still hazy. He is the only sure presidentiable. The others, like Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, are not sure candidates even if they have announced their intention to run for president. Even second-running Poe isn’t sure.

Binay’s rating will be tested once the poll picture gets clear.

Meanwhile, a case for plunder has been filed recently by some Makati residents against Binay for the construction of an allegedly expensive building in that city when he was still mayor. He claimed that the filing of the case is politically motivated. That may be true, but I think that is only for starters. His enemies will dig up more issues against him as 2016 nears.

The problem with being a frontrunner is that you could stumble. Just ask former senator Manny Villar.

(khanwens@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 26, 2014.

Opinion

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