Wenceslao: Volunteerism

Candid Thoughts

SURVEYS try to predict the outcome of elections. Entities like Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations make their money from these. But there are variables that make the accuracy of surveys suspect. So surveys are not reliable. But there’s one phenomenon that I measure to track where the political wind is headed during elections: volunteerism.

Volunteerism was noticeable in Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s presidential run in 2010. In Cebu, groups volunteered to carry the campaign of Aquino’s Liberal Party, which was dwarfed by the machinery of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who supported former Defense chief Gilbert Teodoro.

In Cebu, most of the incumbent local government officials were with Arroyo’s party so that a big bulk of the Aquino campaign was initiated by volunteers, mostly from the private sector. I remember those campaign sorties that included convoys of vehicles going around the province. It showed that the political wind was going Aquino’s way. He did win that year.

This was repeated in 2016 when then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte ran for president. This time, the Liberal Party had the bigger machinery of mostly balimbings. Aquino supported the presidential run of former Interior secretary Mar Roxas. Duterte’s campaign machinery was dwarfed by that of the administration. Duterte won nevertheless.

Which makes the recent development involving the run of Otso Diretso, a group of eight senatorial bets of the decimated Liberal Party, which could not even put up a complete slate for the May 13 elections. Otso Diretso is ranged against the complete slate of 12 bets supported by President Duterte under his daughter Sara’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

This is a midterm election so that Hugpong is not only getting the support of a still popular president but also the administration machinery. Otso Diretso seemed puny from the get-go but has picked up recently as volunteers around the country started embracing the Otso cause.

This has been my point since the campaign started. Duterte won the 2016 elections because the forces aligned with Aquino, called by diehard Duterte supporters as “dilawans,” split into factions supporting presidential bets other than Roxas. My question is, would the factions who did not support Duterte in 2016 unite around one opposition group this time around?

Recent surveys do not seem to show that with Otso Diretso bets lagging behind in the results, but the political wind seems to be swaying in a direction away from Hugpong bets now. I don’t know if it would be enough for all of them to get to the top 12 but this development is already encouraging for what started as a ragtag group.


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