AS OF this writing, it was not yet clear if Sen. Bam Aquino of Otso Deretso of the Liberal Party will join the “Magic 12” winning circle. He is still tailing by a slight margin Bong Revilla who is in the 12th position. Bong, who was in the 10th position in the previous count, was overtaken by Senators Koko Pimentel and Nancy Binay of the administration party. I don’t know who among Binay, Revilla and Aquino will be declared winner. But according to Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, LP’s campaign manager, there is a possibility that Aquino will be in the magic 12. Maybe they have an advanced unofficial copy of the results. Well, let’s wait for the final and official results.
But whatever it is, why is it that only Aquino is in the winning circle among the Otso Diretso candidates? Why are the seven other candidates rejected by the voters? If you try to scrutinize their individual background and qualifications, there were candidates from the opposition who were highly qualified to become senators than those from the administration. Some of the Otso Diretso candidates are topnotch lawyers and heirs of great senators and they presumably are well-versed in parliamentary procedures and legislative matters, but unfortunately they are not popular. Former senators Mar Roxas and Serge Osmeña, who were topnotchers in the previous elections, did not make it. Osmeña, a Cebuano, did not even make it to the top in Cebu.
A political analyst said the debacle suffered by the Otso Diretso candidates was because they attacked and criticized President Duterte whose popularity and trust ratings are still high. They should have focused on issues and not on the personality of the President. Because of President Duterte’s popularity and influence, people believe in him and voted for the candidates he endorsed. That’s the reason almost all the administration candidates won.
Presidential endorsement was also a big factor in winning in the local level. Although, it did not work at all in other areas. Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella was endorsed by the President by not only raising the former’s hand. The President went to the extent of appealing and campaigning to the Cebuanos to support Labella and to reject the incumbent mayor. Result: Labella won by a big margin against the “political has-been.” Pajo Barangay Captain Junard “Ahong” Chan, an underdog candidate but was also endorsed by Digong, won against the formidable former mayor Arturo “Boy” Radaza.
Sixth district Rep. Jonas Cortes and his entire slate won against incumbent Mayor Luigi Quisumbing in the mayoral race in Mandaue City by a big margin. Also, Third District Rep. Gwen Garcia regained Capitol’s control against Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale by a big margin. Former Liloan mayor Duke Frasco clobbered incumbent Fifth District Rep. Ramon “Red” Durano VI and eliminated the Durano’s control and dominance in the district, including in their stronghold, Danao City.
But not all the candidates Duterte endorsed made it to the winning trick. His former Cabinet secretary and long time ally Leoncio Evasco Jr., failed in his gubernatorial bid in Bohol against Rep. Arthur Yap. Evasco complained about massive vote buying by Yap’s camp. He is contemplating of filing a protest and has asked the Comelec to declare a failure of elections. Duterte’s magic did not also work in some areas in Davao, his bailiwick, because majority of his endorsed candidates did not win. They say that presidential endorsement was only very effective in the national level.
Third Rep. Gwen Garcia overwhelmingly won against Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale by at least 300,000 votes. Garcia got 838,550 against Magpale’s 563,496. It was unexpected because Magpale was ahead in the survey days before the elections. On the other hand, Gov. Hilario Davide III’s lead of 150,000 votes against Daphne Salimbangon, a virtually unknown candidate provincewide, was not convincing. Expectedly, Davide should have won by a big margin against Salimbangon considering that he is the incumbent and has served for two terms. He is more popular than Salimbangon.
Had Davide run for reelection against Gwen, he would have lost as well. It was a wise decision for him to slide down as vice governor because it would be very insulting and embarrassing for his part had he lost. Was Davide’s slight lead against Salimbangon a sort of a rejection by the Cebuanos of him because of his dismal performance and rampant graft and corruption in his administration? Your guess is as good as mine.