WITH less than a year before the mid-term elections in 2019, one senatorial survey has been released—by Pulse Asia. The mid-term elections, if it proceeds (House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has continued to badger for the postponement of the polls supposedly to give way to the federalism push), will have 12 slots for the Senate open. Results of the Pulse Asia survey present an interesting mix.
As expected, only personalities known nationwide are, as Tagalos would say, “pasok sa banga.” Reelectionist or former senators are naturally up there because they already had/have a national presence and machinery. Topping the list was Sen. Grace Poe, which is not surprising because she ran for president in 2016 and, although she lost to now president Rodrigo Duterte, made a good account of herself.
Poe was followed by former senator Pia Cayetano (now a Taguig City House representative) at second and Sen. Cynthia Villar with a ranking of 3rd to 4th. Interestingly, presidential daughter Sara Duterte wiggled into the picture with a statistical ranking of from 3rd to 5th.
Another incumbent, Sonny Angara, was ranked 4th to 8th. The others in the list: Jinggoy Estrada, former Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel III, Sen. Nancy Binay, the Cebuano ex-senator Sergio Osmeña III, former senator Lito Lapid and Sen. JV Ejercito. Just outside the top 12 was Sen. Bam Aquino.
Not in the list is the indefatigable campaigner Christopher “Bong” Go, who is using his government connection and a number of tarpaulins to popularize his bid. This is not surprising because, aside from his being a presidential aide, he is actually a non-entity still in national politics. As I noted previously, one can’t just ride on the coattails of the president and expect to win a national race.
Among those in the top 12 in the survey, only Sara Duterte and dela Rosa are not incumbent senators or former senators. They are there on the strength of their very strong association with the president. Which only means that their fortunes will rise or fall depending on how the voters perceive the Duterte presidency.
This is probably the reason Duterte is trying to make amends following the result of another survey, this time by the Social Weather Stations, showing his satisfaction rating falling to its lowest point. The survey was conducted a few days after the president called God stupid. The other day, the president apologized to God, a move that is actually meant for him to regain sympathy from Catholics.
Incidentally, if the Duterte camp thought that it could add to the Senate in 2019 more unthinking “sipsips” like Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Manny Pacquiao, then he should think again. Those incumbent and former senators are like bamboos that sway with the wind and will be like that when they win. And there is no assurance Sara and Bato would eventually make it.
Finally, there is one political reality if the Duterte camp’s push to extend the president’s term via federalism fails: he would be considered a lame duck president in the second half of his term, meaning after 2019.