THE ART OF EXASPERATING PNOY
All of the latest voter preference surveys show Bongbong Marcos consolidating his leading position among the vice-presidential contenders. That lead is explained by the candidate’s overwhelming lead in northern Luzon and in the National Capital Region. Among all age groups, his lead is most solid among voters aged 30 to 45 — the so-called “martial law babies.” Marcos is trying to consolidate his position by attracting more votes in the Visayas and Mindanao.
As frontrunner, it is understandable all the other candidates will gang up on Marcos and pile up negatives in order to break his momentum. If the issues are valid, that might be an easy thing to do. If the negatives stuck, the Marcos candidacy might have been brought down by the concerted effort of all his rivals. But if the attacks appear contrived, Marcos’ voting base will likely hold until election day.
All the attacks on Marcos revolve around a single theme: the excesses that happened during the martial law period. During this period, human rights were trampled and government funds were looted by an unaccountable government. But those are historical facts; not things directly attributable to candidate Bongbong Marcos personally. His rivals are basically asking of Bongbong a truly ridiculous thing: to apologize for the alleged sins of his father and accept responsibility for restoring what might have been stolen from public funds. The latter is a matter still under consideration by the courts.
It is important to note that nothing derogatory has been said about Bongbong’s tenure as a local executive official nor about his record of service as a legislator in both chambers of Congress. No one has charged Bongbong of stealing from the local government he once led. There was an attempt to link Bongbong to the pork barrel scam. This has been a futile effort since the principal pork barrel operator, Janet Lim Napoles, clearly testified there were no transactions with the office of Bongbong Marcos.
The negative campaign against Bongbong Marcos is entirely retrospective rather than prospective. There is an active campaign to remind our people about the martial law victims. This, too, is ridiculous. Bongbong Marcos is running to be vice-president to serve the nation in that capacity prospectively. No argument has been made by his detractors that might diminish Bongbong’s qualification for the job. Very clearly, then, the debate cannot be joined. The candidate cannot argue his qualifications because those have not been subject to criticism. It would be ridiculous to ask him to change the past.
Marcos’ campaign theme centers of national unity. Given the extent to which our politics has become poisoned, that is apparently a theme that resonates among voters. He is perceived to be a competent person, given his record as governor and his work as legislator. In particular, the effort Bongbong put into rectifying the errors of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law is appreciated by our citizens.
Marcos solid lead in the vice-presidential race exasperates Noynoy Aquino above all. With all the rivals ganging up on Bongbong failing to dent the Marcos campaign, Aquino decided to step in and join the firing line himself. This is likely to backfire. It will all the more convince voters the anti-Bongbong campaign is really nothing more than an extension of the family feud waged by the Aquinos against the Marcos family. Bongbong is, after all, a Marcos; and Noynoy is an Aquino. That can only make the anti-Bongbong effort all the more trivial.