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Image, issues, and machinery: Presidential campaigns in post-1986 Philippines

Julio C. Teehankee

Abstract

114 I mage, issues, and machinery: Presidential campaigns in post-1986 Philippines Julio C. Teehankee Abstract This

This paper will explore the political terrain leading to the 2010 presidential election. It seeks to understand the nature of presidential campaigns in post-authoritarian Philippines. Utilizing survey data, it will trace trends that reflect continuity and change in Filipino voting behavior. Moreover, it will apply the analytical tools of political marketing, such as market segmentation and candidate positioning, in identifying the key elements that contributed to a successful presidential campaign in the three most recent electoral cycles. The paper notes that electoral campaigns in the post-authoritarian period have been waged with competing narratives of reformism, populism and clientelism. The tradition of Filipino-style reformist politics has been revived in the issue-based anti-corruption and good governance campaigns. Meanwhile, continued clientelism and money politics have manifested themselves in the machine-based campaigns that have eroded the gains of reformism. The failure of reform politics to address the problem of poverty, coupled by the ascendancy of the mass media, has fueled the image-based populist campaigns. Ultimately, the rise of media and public opinion polling as influential conduits between national candidates and the electorate underscores the need to find the right mix and astute use of image, issues and machinery.

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Three presidential elections have been held in the Philippines since the restoration of democratic rule in 1986. The elections of 1992 and 1998 have demonstrated the efficacy of a smooth and legitimate transition of power while the experience of 2004 exposed the corroding effects of a stolen election. The 2010 presidential election offers an institutional mechanism for addressing the crisis of legitimation triggered by the presidency of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. While the familiar elements of 1992, 1998, and 2004 are evident in the upcoming 2010 campaign, new factors are coming into play.

Consequently, the outcome of the 2010 presidential election is crucial for political change since the “effects a president has on the benefits enjoyed by the citizenry go far beyond policies: a president

provides moral and social cues to the country

. . .

elections integrate

the country and provide the common symbols which inform public discourse” (Popkin, 1991: 3). Ultimately, how a presidential candidate wages a campaign, gives some cue to how a president will govern after victory. And in most instances, “an effective president is one who has projected an effective image of himself [or herself].” (Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 2004: 5) This paper is an exposition on the nature of presidential campaigns in the post-Marcos political period. It seeks to provide a historical review of Filipino voting behavior since 1992 and analyze the trends that reflect continuity and change in Philippine presidential elections. The paper will identify the key elements that contributed to a successful presidential campaign in the three most recent presidential electoral cycles. Moreover, it also aims to provide a brief backgrounder for the coming 2010 presidential election.

Presidential campaigns in the Philippines

Despite the growth in the literature on Philippine electoral studies through the years, only a handful of works have focused specifically on a scholarly analysis of Filipino voting behavior in presidential elections. Thus far, only three significant studies have been written

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on this area in the past 40 years: Hirofumi Ando’s statistical study of voting patterns in pre-martial law presidential elections published in 1969; Carl Lande’s geographical and statistical analysis of the 1992 presidential election published in 1996; and more recently, Yuko Kasuya’s groundbreaking work, published in 2009, on the unstable effects of single-term presidential elections on the post-authoritarian Filipino party system. 1 This paper would like to contribute to the scant study of Filipino voting behavior by providing a review of presidential campaigns in the post-authoritarian period from the perspective of political marketing. It will draw extensively from data culled by Lande’s 1996 study; the comprehensive survey data compiled by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) since 1992, and Pulse Asia since 2004.

The marketing of the president

Political marketing offers a more pragmatic framework for thinking about electoral campaigns that “contrasts with the explanatory and scientific intent of the traditional academic approach to analyzing political campaigns” (Mauser, 1983: 2). The application of marketing principles in politics allow for the use of standard marketing tools and strategies, such as polling research, market segmentation, targeting, positioning, strategy development and implementation. From this perspective, “the voter can be analyzed as a consumer in the political marketplace using the same models and theories in marketing that are used to study consumers in the commercial marketplace. And both are

  • 1 Ando’s study analyzed the pattern of Filipino voting in presidential and senatorial elections from 1946 to 1965. He utilized three main independent variables in explaining partisan voting: party identification, linguistic affiliation and socio-economic status. Ando identified linguistic affiliation as having the best explanatory power of the three. Lande, on the other hand, investigated the first presidential election in the post-Marcos era. Using statistical techniques, he correlated the result of the 1992 election with 37 demographic variables of the Philippine census. Similar to Ando’s finding, Lande demonstrated that ethno-linguistic division was a highly significant influence on voting behavior at the dawn of the post-authoritarian era. More recently, Kasuya argued that presidential elections in the post-authoritarian period are characterized by an observed instability of inter-party competition. She identified two factors that have contributed to this instability: 1) the increased number of candidates; and 2) the frequent appearance and disappearance of new parties.

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dealing in competitive marketplaces and, as such, need to rely on similar approaches to winning (but each may have several distinct options)” (Newman, 1994: 11). In political marketing terms, there are two crucial factors in winning votes in an election (see Figure 1). The first is the “push factor” or the organization that will deliver the votes to a particular candidate. The other is the “pull factor” or the characteristics that will attract voters to a candidate. The former is geared towards command votes, while the latter is aimed at attracting market votes. In applying these basic marketing principles to political campaigns,

the exchange process centers on a candidate who offers political leadership in exchange for a vote from the citizen. The product in politics is the campaign

platform, and marketing would require that research and polling be done to

help shape the platform of the candidate. More than the platform itself, the image, or impression, is what the candidate leaves in the mind of the voter. An

image is created by the use of visual impressions that are communicated by the

candidate’s physical presence, media appearances and experiences and record as a political leader. (Newman, 1994: 10)

Image, issue, and machinery: Presidential campaigns in post-1986 Philippines 117 dealing in competitive marketplaces and, as
Candidate Pull Factor Push Factor Figure 1: Pull and Push Factors in Elections
Candidate
Pull Factor
Push
Factor
Figure 1: Pull and Push Factors in Elections

The increased use of political marketing techniques coincides with the increasing dominance of media, particularly television, and the growing influence of political consultants in electoral campaigns around the world. There is a growing trend towards the

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“hybridization” of campaign practices in media-centered democracies, or “a combination of modern media-centered campaign practices with traditional organization-based mobilization strategies, relying on networks of supporters and activists” (Plasser & Plasser, 2002: 349). This trend in global political campaigning is also evident in Philippine electoral politics, which continues to operate according to its own unique traditional dynamics despite the growing influence of media- driven campaigns (see Figure 2.)

Command votes, bailiwicks and machineries

In Philippine elections, command votes are blocs of votes that are gathered and delivered through traditional networks such as political machines and bailiwicks, usually negotiated through leaders and gatekeepers. 2 Bailiwicks (baluarte) refer to the candidate’s natural sphere of influence, commonly determined by his or her ethno-linguistic, regional or provincial attachments. The ethno-linguistic vote, as demonstrated in the past two presidential elections, is the most secure source of votes for a national candidate. Hence, a national candidate must immediately factor it in his or her electoral calculations.

  • 2 The standard approach to analyzing Filipino electoral and party politics has been to view power relations within the context of the patron-client factional (pcf) framework. The pcf framework highlights the interpersonal, specifically the familial and patron-client, nature of Philippine politics in a rural society (Lande, 1965; Kerkvliet, 1995). Another study has concluded that elite-dominated factions and their bifurcated inter-familial rivalries have been replaced by local political machines geared towards multi-factionalism and characterized by the alliance of factions into temporary blocs. This trend was further reinforced by the breakdown of the two-party system and the emergence of a multi-party system (Kimura, 1992). The onslaught of economic transformation and increased social mobilization has largely depersonalized patron-client relations in the rural areas. Thus, the reciprocal relationship between leader and followers has become contractual in nature. The potency of the kinship system as an instrument of patronage has diminished and has been replaced with the emergence of machine politics (Kawanaka, 2002).

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Electorate
Electorate
Command Votes Comm a nd Votes Bail i wick Mach i ne Mo n ey Party
Command Votes
Comm a nd
Votes
Bail i wick
Mach i ne
Mo n ey
Party
Gov e r n m e nt
Ma r ket Votes Popularity Image Issue
Ma r ket Votes
Popularity
Image
Issue

Figure 2: Classification of Votes

Political machines are specialized organizations set up for the purpose of mobilizing and influencing voter outcome through the dispensation of social, economic or material benefits. These benefits are essentially patronage in the form of jobs, services, favors and money distributed to voters and supporters. There are essentially three types of political machines in the Philippines – money-based (organized largely through the use of money), party-based (organized around local and national political leaders and gatekeepers), and government-based (organized primarily through access to government personnel and resources). These three are oftentimes structured on top of each other.

Market votes, image and issues

Market votes are votes that have to be identified, targeted and attracted from various segments of the electorate. Similar to the market, the dominant brand is the most popular one. Hence, market votes are translated into political support by way of popularity that is gauged and reflected in regular public opinion surveys. There are essentially two factors that will draw or repel market votes to a candidate – image and issues. Image is the general perception by the

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electorate of a particular candidate (whether positive or negative). On the other hand, issues are the major concerns of the electorate that they hope the candidates will address when elected into public office. Candidates usually attempt to address these concerns through their campaign message and platform. Again, similar to market competition, candidates have to distinguish themselves from others by projecting an ideal image and articulating the proper issue or issues in the hope of gaining popularity in the surveys. Competition among candidates to capture large chunks of the market vote is usually waged through the mass media – both print and broadcast. Moreover, “politics is no longer just addition. In the age of mass media, politics is image-making. Amplified by television and advertising, a politician’s image in the public’s collective mind is greater than the sum of his actual attributes, assets and accomplishment” (Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, 2004: 5). Candidate images are “cognitive representations and, to a considerable extent, people’s image of things [that] rules the way they behave, regardless of how close to reality their images are” (Laylo & Dayag-Laylo, 1999: 3). The Institute for Political and Economic Reforms (IPER) conducted two “psychographic” studies that profiled the voting behavior of the Filipino electorate in 1995 and 2003. In 1995, the top four factors for voters choice were: 1) popularity, 2) endorsement of traditional network and organization, 3) characteristics that can be of benefit to the voter, and 4) party program. By 2003, the ranking of the factors had significantly changed into: 1) the benefit factor, 2) political machinery, 3) popularity, and 4) endorsement of traditional network and organization (cited in Co et al., 2005). The decision to mobilize either command or market votes relies largely on a myriad of factors that include political opportunity, personal attributes and/or resources available to individual candidates or political parties. The identification of image, issues and machinery in this paper refers to the predominant electoral strategy waged by a presidential campaign. Of course, these categories are not absolute

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and may actually overlap into mixed strategies in actual presidential campaigns.

Ascendancy of media

Given the physical, financial and logistical impossibility of personally facing the electorate in a national campaign, media has emerged as the most efficient and cost-effective way of communicating with the public. Broadcast media (radio and television) has emerged as the primary source of news and information for the public. Broadcast media, with an audience reach in the millions, has supplanted print media, which is circulated in the hundreds of thousands. However, while broadcast media has the most audience reach, it tends to have less substance since everything is reduced into a two- or three- sentence sound byte. On the other hand, print media offers much space for elaborate explanations (Carandang, 2004). Within broadcast media, television has replaced radio as the source of information for the masses. This trend has been manifested since the late 1980s when television sets were sold by the hundreds of thousands. Programming and language shifted from English to Tagalog to reach the mass audience. By 1995, some 57 percent of households nationwide had TV sets. This figure has risen to 85 percent, as of 2001 (Coronel, 2003). In 2001, a 13-year old law banning political advertising was lifted, thus opening the floodgates of media-related expenditures for political campaigns. The 2004 elections “marked the first time that presidential candidates spent more than half of their total campaign expenses on advertising” (Gloria et al., 2004: 30) (see Table 1).

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Table 1: Commercial and Political Ads from January to May 2004 (in million pesos)

TV

Radio

Print

Total

Nonpolitical Ads

2,216.25

2,016.55

598.17

4,830.97

Political Ads

1,405.67

530.07

53.66

1,989.40

Source: Gloria et al., 2004

The media has eroded the vote-delivery potential of the political machinery. Traditionally, a well-oiled machinery was relied upon to deliver 75 percent of a candidate’s vote. The other 25 percent was delivered by provincial sorties, posters and propaganda materials. Presently, this equation has been altered with media accounting for approximately more than 50 percent of a candidate’s votes. Hence, the communications group composed of image strategists, pollsters, advertising specialists and media relations experts have become an integral and important component of any presidential campaign (Gloria et al., 2004). The advantage of the incumbent is reflected by the budget that is made available for media advertisement. In 2004, government spent a total of P6.1 billion on advertisements for a period of five months prior to the elections (see Table 2).

Table 2: Government Ads in 2004 (January to May)

Government Ads

P1.4 billion

Social Concern Ads

P2.8 billion

Political Ads

P1.9 billion

Source: Gloria et al., 2004

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The 1992 presidential election

The 1992 election was the first democratic election for the presidency since 1969. It was also the first to be held after the 1986

transition from authoritarianism to democracy. There were seven contenders: Fidel Ramos, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Eduardo Cojuangco, Ramon Mitra, Imelda Marcos, Jovito Salonga and Salvador Laurel. Of these seven, only four were considered serious contenders. Former Defense Secretary Fidel Ramos won with 23.6 percent of the national vote (see Table 3). Former Agrarian Reform Secretary Miriam Defensor Santiago placed second with 19.7 percent, close Marcos associate Eduardo Cojuangco placed third with 18.2 percent, and House Speaker Ramon Mitra placed fourth with 15 percent of the presidential vote.

Table 3: Results of 1992 Election

Candidate

Party

Votes

%

Fidel V. Ramos

Lakas NUCD

5,342,521

23.6

Miriam Defensor

People’s Reform Party

4,468,173

19.7

Santiago

Eduardo Cojuangco

Nationalist People’s

4,116,376

18.2

Coalition

Ramon Mitra

Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino

3,316,661

14.6

Imelda Romualdez

Kilusang Bagong Lipunan

2,338,294

10.3

Marcos

Jovito Salonga

Liberal Party

2,302,124

10.2

Salvador H. Laurel

Nacionalista Party

770,046

3.4

Source: Commission on Elections, 1992

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Reformism and issue-based campaigns

Ramos consistently topped the Social Weather Stations (SWS) surveys from July 1991 to early February 1992 (see Table 4). His closest

rival, Miriam Defensor Santiago, only caught up with him in April 1992, but her lead was not statistically significant. Ramos’ support was evenly distributed by age, class, education and location (Mangahas, 1994). He also capitalized on his role in the 1986 “People Power” revolution and his staunch defense of the Aquino administration from seven coup attempts. Consistent with this image, he encapsulated his campaign message into the slogan – “people’s empowerment”.

Table 4: SWS National Surveys: July 1991 – April 1992

July 1991

November 1991

February 1992

 

April 1992

1

Ramos

1

Ramos

1

Ramos

1-2

Santiago &

2

Salonga

2-3

Estrada &

2

Santiago

Ramos

3-4

Estrada

Santiago

3-4

Mitra &

3

Cojuangco

&

4

Salonga

Estrada

4-6

Mitra &

Santiago

5

Mitra

5 Cojuangco

Salonga

5

Laurel

6

Laurel

6

Marcos

7

Laurel

6-7

Mitra &

7-8

Fernan &

7

Salonga

Pimentel

Cojuangco

8

Laurel

8

Cojuangco

 

Undecided

17%

Undecided

26%

Note: SWS utilized several survey techniques, hence only the rankings can be compared.

Source: Posadas & Sandoval, 1992

Santiago waged a single-issue campaign against corruption and captured the support of the youth through her unusual image. She also won the support of the middle class, educated and urban voters (Mangahas, 1994). Her image was the antithesis of Cory Aquino’s. While Cory was pensive, dignified and passive, Miriam was shrill, acerbic and aggressive. This image, however, was used by her opponents to portray her as unstable and possibly disturbed.

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Notwithstanding his national prominence as House Speaker, Mitra did not rate well in the SWS surveys. He ranked between 6 th to 7 th in July 1991, 5 th place in November 1991, between 3 rd and 4 th in February 1992, and between 4 th and 6 th in April 1992. Ironically, his main power base – the speakership of the lower house – was also his greatest liability. The position reinforced his image as a “traditional politician” or “trapo”. The public had an adverse perception of the House of Representatives because of a number of scandals that involved its members. The Speaker himself was implicated in the misuse of the House printing facilities to support his presidential campaign (Lande,

1996).

Businessman Eduardo Cojuangco languished at the tail end of the surveys but managed to rise from 8 th place in July 1991 to between 7 th and 8 th place in November 1991, to 5 th place in February 1992, and finally landing oin 3 rd place in April 1992. While his image handlers highlighted his alleged business acumen, he was hounded by his close association with the ousted dictator and his role in the controversial coconut levy imposed on coconut farmers by the Marcos administration. With such an image, his over-all negatives outweighed his positives.

Rise of the machines

Speaker Ramon Mitra Jr. had the most organized party machinery – the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP). On the eve of the 1992 elections, the LDP boasted that it had the support of 150 out of 200 congressmen, 50 out of 73 governors, 35 out of 60 city mayors, 1,100 out of 1,532 municipal mayors and 70 percent of barangay officials (De Castro, 1992). In addition, Mitra was publicly endorsed by the

influential Roman Catholic Archbishop, Jaime Cardinal Sin. On the other hand, Eduardo Cojuangco attempted to replicate the national pyramidical political machinery of Ferdinand Marcos by designating a loyal deputy (postes) in every geographical region. In addition, he utilized his vast financial resources to set up his

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party machinery. However, he was outspent by Ramos at the tail end of the campaign. Some of the postes, particularly in Northwestern, Northeastern and Central Luzon, were effective in delivering the bulk of Cojuangco’s votes (Lande, 1996). Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) Bishop Eraño Manalo endorsed his candidacy. 3 Except for his home province of Tarlac, Cojuangco did not benefit much from Tagalog-speaking provinces. He, however, drew much support from the Ilocano-speaking provinces, given his close association with former President Marcos. His combined support from Ilocano and Tagalog provinces was greater, on the average, than the support he received in provinces dominated by other language groups (Lande, 1996) (see Appendix 1). Unlike the other presidential candidates, Mitra did not have a large linguistic-regional base of his own; he got his strongest support from the thinly-populated island and frontier provinces (Siquijor, Camiguin, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Romblon) that resemble his native Palawan, and the thinly-populated highlands (Cordillera region) where he grew up (Lande, 1996). He got additional votes from the populous Cebuano- speaking Central Visayan provinces, the home of his vice-presidential running-mate former Chief Justice Marcelo Fernan. This advantage, however, was limited because of the equally strong support given by the region to Ramos’ vice presidentvice-presidential running-mate, Cebu Governor Lito Osmeña (Lande, 1996). Ramos, a non-politician, entered and lost the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) primaries to Mitra. He then organized his own political party, the Lakas NUCD, and won the endorsement of President Aquino. This endorsement translated to access to government resources through the extra-legal pre-election release of between P600 million to P1.5 billion National Aid to Local Government Units (NALGU) funds to localities whose leaders campaigned for Ramos (Lande, 1996). In addition, the LDP charged that portions of an estimated P100 million

  • 3 The Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) is a Christian sect founded by former Seventh Day Adventist member Felix Manalo in 1914. The sect grew in numbers and became very influential in local and national politics as a result of its practice of block voting.

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fund for the Rebel Returnee Program were distributed to local officials supportive of the Ramos campaign (Balgos, 1998). Ramos, a protestant and only the second non-Catholic to seek the presidency, secured the endorsement of two tightly-knit religious organizations – the El Shaddai of Brother Mike Velarde and Jesus is Lord of Brother Eddie Villanueva. In terms of regional strength, he got the bulk of his support from the country’s most heavily populated regions: Central Luzon and the Cebuano-speaking areas of the Visayas and Mindanao. In addition, he was exceptionally strong in two provinces with very large populations, Pangasinan and Cebu (Lande, 1996) (see Appendix 1). Santiago did not have a political machinery to support her candidacy. Her People’s Reform Party had no congressional or local candidates and it had only a partial senatorial slate, which included five retired generals. It was only in the latter part of the campaign that she was able to convince Ramon Magsaysay Jr. to be her vice- presidential running-mate. What she lacked in traditional political machinery, she made up for with a non-traditional campaign powered largely by unpaid volunteers, made up of students and civic leaders (Lande, 1996). Santiago won in two of the country’s most densely populated regions: the National Capital Region and its surrounding semi- urban provinces, and Western Visayas, particularly vote-rich Negros Occidental and Iloilo (Lande, 1996). While she topped most media and campus surveys, the SWS surveys from July 1991 to early February 1992 had her running second to Ramos. By April 1992, she was able to overtake Ramos, but her lead was not statistically significant (Mangahas, 1994).

Keys to success

In 1992, Ramos consistently topped the surveys, articulated the proper issue (people’s empowerment) consistent with his image as one of the EDSA heroes, and had government resources at his

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disposal to by-pass the traditional party machinery. The phenomenal performance of Santiago revealed the potential of cultivating the right image and articulating hot-button issues in attracting the market votes. However, her campaign suffered from a lack of machinery to protect her votes. The tight competition between Ramos and Santiago served to highlight the important role of ethno-linguistic bailiwicks in a close election. Nearly ten percent of Ramos’s total tally came from his native Pangasinan, while the bulk of Santiago’s votes came from the Ilonggo- speaking provinces. Hence, in a close election, the margin could be swung according to regional and linguistic bases (Coronel, 2003) (see Appendix 1). An issue-focused campaign without the corresponding positive image and credible machinery can also prove to be disastrous. Jovito Salonga articulated nationalist and progressive issues and was favored by a segment of the educated middle class but he suffered from an image problem due to his age. Both Mitra and Cojuangco relied on their respective machineries to deliver command votes: Mitra’s machine was largely party-based, while Cojuangco’s was money-based. The two, however, suffered from extremely negative images: Cojuangco as the Marcos crony, and Mitra the trapo.

Command Votes Market V Market Votes o tes Mo n ey Party Gover n m e
Command Votes
Market V
Market Votes
o tes
Mo n ey
Party
Gover n m e nt
Im age
Issue s
Ramos
Santiago
Mitra
Salonga
Cojuangco

Figure 3: 1992 Candidate Positioning

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The 1998 presidential election

The second presidential election saw an unprecedented number of presidential candidates in Philippine political history (see Table 5). The eleven candidates who competed for the presidency included:

Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., Vice-President Joseph Estrada, Senator Raul Roco, former Cebu Governor Lito Osmeña, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Defense Secretary Renato de Villa, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, Santiago Dumlao and Manuel Morato. Out of this number, there was one frontrunner and three serious challengers.

Table 5: Results of 1998 Election

Presidential Candidate

Party

Votes

%

Joseph E. Estrada

LAMMP

10,722,295

39.9

Jose C. de Venecia Jr.

Lakas NUCD-

4,268,483

15.9

UMDP

Raul S. Roco

Aksyon

3,720,212

13.8

Demokratiko

Emilio R. Osmeña

PROMDI

3,347,631

12.4

Alfredo S. Lim

LP

2,344,362

8.7

Renato S. de Villa

Reporma-LM

1,308,352

4.9

Miriam Defensor Santiago

PRP

797,206

3.0

Juan Ponce Enrile

Independent

343,139

1.3

Santiago F. Dumlao

KPP

32,212

0.1

Manuel L. Morato

Partido ng

18,644

0.1

Bansang

Marangal

Source: Commission on Elections, 1998

Vice-President Joseph Estrada won the presidency with 39.9 percent of the vote. House Speaker Jose de Venecia placed second

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with 15.9 percent ; Senator Raul Roco was on third place with 13.8 percent ; and Emilio “Lito” Osmeña placed fourth with 11 percent of the national vote.

Populist onslaught

Estrada’s popularity was formidable; his support from the masa was solid. His popularity compensated for the relative handicap of his LAMMP coalition vis-à-vis the administration Lakas party. Estrada dominated the SWS surveys throughout the campaign period. From January to May 1998, he did not relinquish the top position in the opinion polls (see Table 6). Although rejected by a small but significant ABC or middle-to-upper classes, Estrada nevertheless won as a result of mass support from the D and E classes – the so-called masa vote. The 1998 election was the first time that the masa came out solidly behind a single candidate. Estrada captured 38 percent of the class D and 48 percent of the class E votes (Mangahas, 1998). The Estrada campaign will be remembered for one of the most successful campaign slogans in the history of Philippine presidential campaigns – Erap para sa mahirap (Erap for the poor). The slogan did not only capture the core message and issue of the Estrada campaign, it was also in synch with his image as an idol of the masses. He won the endorsement of the Iglesia ni Cristo, and SWS exit polls indicated that 81 percent of INC members voted solidly for him. Estada was also endorsed by El Shaddai; however, only 39 percent of its members actually voted for him (Mangahas, 1998) (see Appendix 4). Estrada was subjected to a barrage of negative attacks revolving around his character and competence. His opponents raised the issue of morality, particularly regarding his mistresses, his drinking sprees and gambling habit. His lack of advanced education was also used to cast doubt on his competence. While these allegations had some basis in fact, his popularity did not wane. His media strategists even used the “Erap jokes” that were circulating to further endear him to the masses.

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Table 6: SWS National Surveys: January 1998-May 1998

 

Sep

Dec

Apr

Sep

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

96

96

97

97

98

98

98

98

98

Estrada

19

17

23

19

28

28

28

30

33

De Venecia

1

2

5

3

11

12

14

12

15

Roco

3

6

5

9

10

9

11

10

11

Osmeña

-

-

-

3

17

13

9

13

11

Lim

-

-

-

-

14

14

14

13

10

De Villa

1

0.5

3

4

7

6

5

5

6

Arroyo

14

17

22

19

-

-

-

-

-

Enrile

-

-

-

-

-

0.9

2

2

3

Santiago

18

14

13

13

9

5

7

4

2

Marcos

-

-

-

-

-

2

2

2

0.3

Dumlao

-

-

-

-

-

0.1

0.4

0.3

0.3

Morato

-

-

-

-

-

0.6

0.9

0.2

0.2

Undecided

0

1

3

14

4

10

7

9

9

Source: Mangahas, 1998

De Venecia struggled to catch up with Estrada’s popularity but he only placed fourth in January and February; tied for second place with Alfredo Lim in March; fell to third place in April, and regained second place in May. On the eve of the elections, he was behind Estrada by 18 percentage points, or roughly 4.5 million votes. Like Mitra in 1992, de Venecia suffered from a negative trapo image reinforced by his role as House Speaker. Roco was popular among women voters and the youth, but he was eventually outdone by Estrada, even among these sectors. Hence, socioeconomic class, age and gender did not matter much in the 1998

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elections (Mangahas, 1998) (see Appendix 5). Brilliant and articulate, Roco initially projected himself as an incarnation of Ninoy Aquino. He was adept at discussing and debating policy issues, but was oftentimes perceived as flowery in delivery and too esoteric for the layperson. In terms of popularity, as reflected in the SWS surveys, Osmeña consistently placed a far second to Estrada in the early part of the campaign period. He fared well in the surveys with strong name recognition – his family has been active in local and national politics since the American colonial period. His grandfather, Sergio Sr., had been a president of the Republic; his uncle, Sergio Jr., had been a senator and a presidential candidate; his estranged brother, Sonny, was a long-time senator; his cousin, Sergio III, was also a senator; and another cousin, Tomas, was mayor of Cebu. On top of his strong regional backing and wide name recognition, Osmeña ran a single-issue campaign that resonated with the electorate. His advocacy of greater decentralization for local government units was a popular issue in the Visayas and Mindanao where the electorate have strong animosity against the dominant centralism of “Imperial Manila” (see Appendix

2).

Splintering the reformist votes

Estrada’s machinery was provided largely by the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP), which coalesced with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), and his own party Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PMP). The coalition Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino (LAMMP) served to supplement his popularity with the electorate. Estrada’s bailiwick was concentrated in the Tagalog-speaking provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal, Quezon and Bulacan. Regionally, he was strong in Regions 1 and 2 (Ilocos and Cagayan Valley), Region 3 (Central Luzon), Region 4 (Southern Tagalog), Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), Regions 9 and 12 (Western and Central Mindanao), Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) and Region 11 (Southern Mindanao) (Laquian, 1998). In spite of the fact that he came from San Juan, a small municipality in Metro Manila, Estrada

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enjoyed wide margins throughout the country. He even encroached on the regional bailiwicks of his rivals (Coronel, 2003). De Venecia had the advantage of money and machinery built around the administration party, Lakas NUCD-UMDP, whose membership included majority of the congressmen, governors, mayors and local officials in the country. He also won the endorsement of President Ramos after a grueling competition with Defense Secretary Renato de Villa in the Lakas primaries. Soon after, he was endorsed by the Jesus is Lord of Brother Eddie Villanueva and the Jesus Miracle Crusade of Brother Wilde Almeda (see Appendix 3). The main base of support for de Venecia was his home province – vote-rich Pangasinan. He was also particularly strong in Northern Luzon (see Appendix 2). Roco placed third despite a lack of money and machinery. Like Santiago in 1992, he ran an alternative grassroots campaign anchored on the miniscule party he founded – Aksyon Demokratiko. Aside from an unknown vice-presidential candidate, Inday Santiago, his party did not field a national or local slate of candidates. Roco’s votes came primarily from his bailiwick – the Bicol Region. He also performed strongly in the National Capital Region (see Appendix 2). Roco dominated the votes among the ABC classes but fared poorly among the D and E (see Appendix 4). Osmeña ran for president under his own provincial-based party – the Probinsya Muna Development Initiative (PROMDI). He got the most number of votes in Cebu, where he had served as governor. He also did well in the nearby Cebuano-speaking areas in the Visayas and Mindanao where he repeated his strong performance in 1992 as a vice-presidential candidate. His campaign reflected the continued potency of ethno-linguistic ties as the most dependable source of command votes in a national election.

Keys to success

In 1998, Estrada’s popularity as an actor was reinforced by his

core message (Erap para sa Mahirap), his single-issue campaign,

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which was consistent with his image, and his machinery that was largely provided by the LDP and NPC. He managed to secure his frontrunner position throughout the campaign, which projected invincibility and resulted in a bandwagon effect. De Venecia had the advantage of having a well-financed party machinery in the form of the monolithic administration party Lakas NUCD-UMDP, and the endorsement of President Ramos which translated into access to government resources. However, like Mitra in 1992, he was very unpopular and suffered from a negative trapo image.

 

Command Votes

Market Votes

Market V

o tes

 

Mo n ey

Gover n m e nt

Party

I m age

Issues

De Veneci a

   

Estrada

 
Roco Osme ñ a L i m De V il l a
Roco
Osme ñ a
L i m
De V il l a

Figure 4: 1998 Candidate Positioning

Roco ran a strong alternative grassroots campaign and captured a portion of the market votes, particularly among the middle class, youth and women. But as in the “Miriam phenomenon” in 1992, his lack of machinery weighed down his chances of winning the election. Osmeña’s campaign revealed the continuing potency of ethno-linguistic ties as the most dependable source of command votes in a national election. This was also evident in the strong support from regional bailiwicks received by de Venecia from Pangasinan and Roco from Bicol. However, Estrada’s encroachment in his rivals’ bailiwicks revealed that “class

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135

loyalties could overcome regional and linguistic ones” (Coronel, 2003:

10).

The 2004 presidential election

In 2004, after a tumultuous three-and-a-half years of completing the unfinished term of ousted President Joseph Estrada, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sought her own electoral mandate. Notwithstanding her earlier promise not to seek election, she was determined to win a full six-year term. Her candidacy served as a referendum on her administration’s achievements and failures. There were six candidates for the 2004 presidential elections, namely President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, film legend Fernando Poe Jr., former Education Secretary Raul Roco, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Brother Eddie Villanueva and Eddie Gil. Of the six candidates, two were serious frontrunners, three were spoilers, and one was a nuisance candidate. The incumbent won by a margin of 3.4 percent of the total votes cast or an equivalent of 1,123,576 votes (see Table 7).

Table 7: Results of the 2004 Presidential Election

Candidate

Party

Votes

%

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

K4

12,905,808

39.9

Fernando Poe Jr.

KNP

11,782,232

36.5

Panfilo Lacson

Independent

3,510,762

10.9

Raul Roco

Alyansa ng Pag-asa

2,082,762

6.4

Eduardo Villanueva

Bangon

1,988,218

6.2

Total

32,269,782

100

Source: Commission on Elections, 2004

Power of the incumbent

The last time that an incumbent president was re-elected in the Philippines was in 1969 when Ferdinand Marcos defeated Sergio

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Osmeña Jr. It would also be the last democratically-held presidential election in the Third Philippine Republic. Marcos’s attempt to force an electoral mandate in the 1986 snap presidential election unleashed the first “people power” uprising. The 2004 election was only the third time in Philippine political history that a former vice-president who completed an unfinished term of a predecessor, sought a full mandate as president. The first time was the controversial victory of Elpidio Quirino in the 1949 presidential election that nearly resulted in an uprising by disgruntled followers of defeated candidate Jose P. Laurel Sr. In 1953, Quirino’s blatant attempt at re-election was thwarted by a “reformist-populist” candidate, Ramon Magsaysay (Hedman & Sidel,

2000).

Since she assumed office after EDSA 2, President Arroyo has suffered from an image problem that did not disappear after several image makeovers. Consequently, she campaigned against herself “on issues like the vows she broke, the promises she has yet to fulfill, her flip-flops that need more explaining, and her husband that many say has been her heaviest political baggage” (Paez, 2004: 26). The President relied on three parallel machineries to carry her to victory. The first was the government bureaucracy, an advantage of incumbency. The second was her party machinery composed of the ruling Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), in coalition with the Liberal Party, a faction of the Nationalist People’s Coalition and the miniscule People’s Reform Party. The third was a network of parallel support groups organized under the control of the First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, the president’s brother Diosdado Macapagal Jr., and the seasoned political operator – Ronaldo Puno. Lakas stalwarts and strategists had learned the lessons of the failed 1998 bid of Speaker de Venecia. Despite the advantage of government- based and party-based machineries, great efforts were made to organize parallel campaign organizations, in case the party machinery failed again. In addition, the President was a hardworking and driven campaigner. She was a veteran of three grueling national elections:

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two for the senate and one for vice president. She got the highest number of votes on her second run for the senate in 1995, and when she won the vice presidency in 1998. Aside from Pampanga, she also counted Bacolod, Negros Occidental (her husband’s province) and Iligan, Lanao del Norte (her mother’s province) as her bailiwicks. In successive SWS surveys, she consistently scored high in the Visayas, where she outranked Fernando Poe Jr. She eventually consolidated her ethno-linguistic base (i.e. Cebuano and Ilonggo) in the Visayas and Mindanao to counter Poe’s dominance in Luzon (see Appendix

6).

In terms of presidential preference, Arroyo consistently trailed behind other candidates. Before her October 2003 announcement that she would seek election, she consistently trailed behind Senators Noli de Castro and Raul Roco, except in June of the same year when she placed first with 20 percentage points in the SWS survey. Her numbers did not pick up after her October announcement. It was only in January 2004 that she overtook Roco with 27 percentage points, and placed second to Fernando Poe Jr. She benefited largely from the decision of survey frontrunner Noli de Castro to withdraw and become her vice-presidential candidate. By February 2004, she had become competitive, rising two percentage points and narrowing her margin with Poe in the SWS survey (see Table 8).

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Table 8: SWS National Surveys: August 2003 – May 2004

 

Dec

May -

02

Jun 03

Arroyo

13

15

Poe

21

16

Roco

24

19

Lacson

6

12

De Castro

19

22

Villanueva

-

-

Gil

-

-

Others

12

10

Undecided

6

5

 

Jan

Jun

03

Aug

03

Sep

03

Nov

03

Jan

04

- Feb

04

Feb

04

Mar

04

Mar

04

Apr

04

May

04

20

16

17

17

26.5

28.7

31.8

32.9

31.4

35.3

37

15

12

14

25

36.3

37.5

30.5

34.9

32.0

30.8

30

19

18

20

18

19.2

17.4

17.9

13.1

15.0

8.4

6

11

11

10

10

11.5

8.4

11.4

11.5

11.2

10.6

11

18

20

28

24

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

1.0

1.7

1.8

2.4

2.8

4.0

4

-

-

-

-

0.1

0.2

0.03

0.5

-

0.05

0.3

15

15

8

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

3

4

4

6

5.4

6.1

6.6

4.6

7.6

10.9

12

Source: Social Weather Stations, 2004

She managed a statistical tie with Poe in the Pulse Asia and SWS surveys in that period of time. Compared with Poe, Arroyo gradually consolidated her hold on the ABC class and made inroads in the D class (see Table 9 and Appendix 8).

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Table 9: Pulse Asia Voter Preference by Socioeconomic Class, in Percent

Candidate/

Nov ‘03

Jan ‘04

Feb ‘04

Mar ‘04

Apr ‘04

Sector

(1,200)

(1,800)

(1,800)

(4,800)

(1,800)

Arroyo, G.M.

ABC

  • 21 32

28

33

33

D

  • 27 34

36

33

39

E

  • 32 32

30

29

35

Poe, F. Jr.

ABC

  • 15 22

25

23

18

D

  • 27 27

33

30

28

E

  • 32 41

43

39

41

Lacson, P.

ABC

  • 17 13

14

14

19

D

  • 12 11

8

11

12

E

  • 10 8

10

6

7

Roco, R

ABC

  • 41 19

25

17

12

D

  • 32 13

20

17

7

E

  • 24 10

16

13

5

Villanueva,

E.

ABC

D

E

-

-

-

2

  • 4 4

  • 1 4

1

  • 1 3

2

7

6

2

Undecided/

None/NR

ABC

D

E

6

2

2

  • 5 6

11

  • 3 8

  • 3 7

12

8

1

7

8

Source: Gloria et al., 2004

Populism falters

After 282 movies and 48 years as the undisputed box-office king of Philippine cinema, Fernando Poe Jr. (popularly known as FPJ) performed the greatest role of his life by running for the presidency and following in the footsteps of his best friend, Joseph Estrada. His candidacy was borne out of the efforts of several sectoral and

140

volunteer groups that urged him to run. His main political vehicle was the hastily-formed coalition – the Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) – composed of the LDP, Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), and the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP). FPJ’s electoral strength was both regional and class-based. In Luzon, FPJ relied on his home province of Pangasinan as his major bailiwick. He was also particularly strong in Mindanao where he had a strong following among the Muslim communities. His campaign hoped to capture the class D and E votes that delivered the presidency to Estrada in 1998. FPJ’s survey numbers surged initially despite his late declaration to run for the presidency. However, a series of negative news stories about him, including a disqualification case filed at the Supreme Court, succeeded in halting his upward momentum. Moreover, FPJ’s refusal to articulate his platform or participate in debates fatally impaired his candidacy. His public appearances were limited to smiling, waving and saluting to the crowd, and his speeches were limited to one- liners, which were often taken from his movies. Despite the huge number of fans who attended his campaign sorties, the failure of FPJ to mount an insurmountable lead in the presidential surveys prevented most local politicians from endorsing his candidacy and discouraged political financiers from infusing funds into his campaign. In the end, he lost his hold on his core demographic base – the class D and E votes. Ironically, he captured the youth vote, but majority of the older voters supported Arroyo (see Appendix 9). His campaign was also saddled by internal bickering among the parties and organizations within the opposition coalition. His failure to unite with recalcitrant opposition candidate Panfilo Lacson further weakened the political opposition, weighed down his campaign message of “national unity” and resulted in the withdrawal of support of the influential Iglesia ni Cristo. In the end, the opposition failed to provide the political vehicle for the charismatic Poe. Unlike President Estrada’s Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino (LAMMP) coalition in 1998, which managed to assemble the requisite

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141

political machinery to convert popularity into votes and have them counted, the KNP, Poe’s coalition in 2004, fielded only 26 candidates out of 211 seats (12 percent) for the House of Representatives and eight candidates for 76 (10 percent) provincial governor seats (Doronila, 2004).

Keys to Success

Despite serious charges raised by the opposition regarding the conduct and outcome of the 2004 presidential election, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo managed to claim a new mandate and was proclaimed victorious by Congress. On March 29, 2005, the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), dismissed the election protest filed by defeated opposition candidate Fernando Poe Jr. “on the ground that no real party in interest has come forward within the period allowed by law, to intervene in this case or be substituted for the deceased protestant” (Clapano, 2005). Poe had died from a stroke on December 14, 2004, with the resolution of his election protest still pending. The PET dismissed the request of his widow, Susan Roces, to substitute for her deceased husband since the rules allowed only the registered candidates who obtained the second and third highest votes for the presidency to file an election protest. The victory of President Arroyo and her running mate, Senator Noli de Castro, was the first time a presidential and vice-presidential ticket was not split in the three elections since 1992. The immensely popular former television newscaster and senator, Noli de Castro, defeated equally popular fellow newscaster and senator, Loren Legarda. De Castro, whose name was earlier floated as a presidential contender, contributed much to the victory of Arroyo in terms of vote transferability, as the administration’s internal survey indicated that an estimated 70 percent of those who would vote for de Castro would also vote for Arroyo. The inclusion of de Castro in the president’s ticket also allowed Arroyo to communicate with the poor, who

142

comprised the bulk of the electorate and the natural constituency of Poe (Bergonia, 2004; Gloria et al., 2004).

Command Votes Market Votes Party Government Money Issues Image Arroyo Poe Lacson Roco Villanueva
Command Votes
Market Votes
Party
Government
Money
Issues
Image
Arroyo
Poe
Lacson
Roco
Villanueva

Figure 5: 2004 Candidate Positioning

Arroyo’s victory was also the first time in Philippine history that a presidential candidate won the election by winning the southern islands of Visayas and Mindanao but losing in the traditional locus of political power – the northern island of Luzon. Despite the fact that Luzon was Arroyo’s natural bailiwick, majority of its voters indicated their preference for Poe in successive surveys conducted by SWS and Pulse Asia prior to the election. Given her political weakness in Luzon, she relied on the political clans and bosses in the Visayas and Mindanao to deliver the votes for her (De Castro, 2004). The administration also succeeded in getting the support of seven out of ten governors in vote- rich provinces (Go, 2004). The President’s candidacy was reinforced by the religious command votes that were delivered by the Iglesia ni Cristo and El Shaddai (see Appendix 7). According to estimates, each religious group can deliver between two to four million votes. In 1998, Erap Estrada got the endorsement of the Iglesia ni Cristo and El Shaddai. The 1998 SWS exit polls indicated that 81 percent of INC members voted solidly for

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143

Estrada. The El Shaddai also endorsed Estrada, but only 39 percent of its members actually voted for him (Mangahas, 1998).

The 2010 Presidential Election

The allegation of massive fraud committed by the administration during the 2004 election was reinforced in June 2005 with the sudden and mysterious release of wire-tapped conversations between Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and various personalities led by President Arroyo. The taped conversations, which allegedly took place from May 17 to June 18, 2004, exposed the cabal of political operators who tampered with votes upon orders of Garcillano. While the President admitted to being one of the voices in the taped conversations, she denied any wrongdoing. Nonetheless, she profusely apologized for the impropriety of her “lapse in judgment”. The 2010 presidential election will serve as a referendum on the nine-year rule of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. It will also be an opportunity to repair the political institutions damaged by the legitimation crisis that emerged from the 2004 election. Contested elections have the effect of weakening legitimacy since they diminish the belief in democratic procedures as a source of political authority. Given the impending end of Arroyo’s term of office, and her failure to extend it by constitutional revision, several political personalities have projected themselves to be her possible successor in the next round of presidential elections.

Air and ground war

Fresh from getting the highest number of votes in the 2007

senatorial elections, Loren Legarda topped the first survey on possible presidential candidates for 2010 conducted that year. Succeeding surveys showed Vice-President de Castro as the most preferred choice to succeed President Arroyo. Between September 2007 and June 2009, however, preparations for the 2010 electoral campaign

144

shifted to the mobilization of party-based local machineries (“ground war”) and the early saturation of radio and television with expensive political advertisements (“air war”). Two potential candidates strongly competed in this regard: Senators Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. The former is the grandson of the late president and Liberal Party (LP) founder Manuel Roxas; while the latter is the steward of the resurgent Nacionalista Party (NP). Aside from leading the two oldest parties in the Philippines, both are among the richest legislators in Congress. Roxas is a scion of the Araneta clan – owners of the Araneta Commercial Center in Cubao; while Villar is a self-made billionaire who made his money developing mass housing projects (Lopez, 2007). According to Nielsen Media Research, in the first three months of 2009, three possible candidates had already spent a total of P230 million in televised “advocacy ads”. The three are Roxas (P140 million), Villar (P80 million), and Legarda (P10 million). The cost of air time at peak viewing hours on the two major television networks (GMA 7 and ABS-CBN 2) can be as much as P475,000 per 30 seconds. (Sisante et al., 2009). By the second quarter of 2009, Villar had overtaken Roxas in ad placements. According to Nielsen, Villar logged a total of 603 minutes or 10.5 hours of television advertisements in the first half of 2009 accounting for 45 percent of the total 1,345 minutes of infomercials during the period. He was followed by Roxas with 444 minutes of airtime; Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay with 166 minutes, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro with 70 minutes, evangelist Eddie Villanueva with 33 minutes and Sen. Panfilo Lacson with 30 minutes (Daily Tribune, 2009). The barrage of television advertisements pushed Villar’s survey ranking. In May, he reached a statistical tie with de Castro, the consistent survey leader , and by June 2009, had taken the lead in the SWS survey. Even as he competed tightly with Villar in media spending, Roxas failed to obtain the same push in his survey rankings. On the other hand, Legarda’s survey numbers plummeted after her political advertisements stopped airing on the major television networks. Vice- President de Castro managed to compete in media exposure through

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145

his government-sponsored infomercials promoting housing loans. However, his later actions indicated his disinterest in either pursuing the presidency or running for re-election as vice-president. His non- commitment paved the way for the selection of the relatively unknown Gilbert Teodoro as the standard bearer of the recently merged Lakas- CMD and Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) (see Table 10).

Table 10: SWS National Surveys: September 2007 – June 2009

 

Sep

Dec

Mar

Jun

Sep

Dec

Feb

May

Jun

Sep

07

07

08

08

08

08

09

09

09

09

Aquino

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

60

De Castro

25

30

35

31

29

31

27

21

19

8

Villar

18

27

17

25

28

27

26

29

33

37

Estrada

5

9

14

11

13

11

13

13

25

18

Legarda

44

23

30

26

26

28

25

14

15

5

Roxas

9

20

16

13

13

10

15

18

20

12

Escudero

13

15

19

14

16

19

23

15

20

15

Lacson

18

13

12

16

17

14

14

12

7

2

Villanueva

0.5

0.4

0.04

0.1

0.2

0.4

0.04

0.7

0.8

1

Binay

0.3

1

0.4

0.2

0.3

2

1

2

4

2

Fernando

0.2

1

1

1

1

2

1

1

1

1

Teodoro

-

-

-

-

-

0.1

0.2

0.2

0.8

4

Others

15.6

14.7

9.3

8.2

10.5

4.74

8

10.1

5.7

0.5

Don’t Know

12

12

11

15

9

7

13

20

18

6

None

6

5

5

8

9

12

7

9

-

4

Source: Social Weather Stations, 2009

146

Revival of reformism

At the outset, it became apparent that the 2010 electoral battle was going to be waged in terms of an expensive media war and a pitched battle for the mobilization of local political machineries. However, the massive outpouring of national grief over the death of former President and democracy icon Corazon C. Aquino on August 1, 2009 reawakened a sense of collective nostalgia for the democratic struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. Similar to the events of 1983 after Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was assassinated, thousands representing a cross-section of Philippine society – from street vendors to middle- aged professionals and their children – literally lined up in the streets of Manila to pay their last respects to the former president. The tremendous national grief, coupled with deep frustration over the scandal-ridden Arroyo administration, rekindled the flames of reformist aspirations. Suddenly, national attention shifted to Aquino’s son, Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, as the bearer of the reformist struggle. In a repeat of his mother’s path to the presidency, several individuals and private organizations launched a signature drive urging the young Aquino to consider running for president under the Liberal Party in 2010. Recognizing the signs of the times, Mar Roxas graciously withdrew his presidential candidacy in favor of Aquino. His act – similar to the withdrawal of Salvador “Doy” Laurel in favor of Cory Aquino – further reinforced the historical parallelisms with the 1986 campaign for the snap presidential election. A special SWS survey covering the vote- rich Lingayen-Lucena corridor was commissioned in September 2009 to test the potentials of a Noynoy candidacy. The poll was taken a day after Roxas’ withdrawal but weeks before Aquino’s declaration that he would seek the presidency (see Table 11).

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Table 11: SWS Survey on Presidential Preferences for 2010 Election:

Lingayen-Lucena Corridor (September 2009)

 

Total

NCR

Pangasinan

Region

Region

  • III IV-A

Benigno Simeon Aquino III

50

50

48

49

51

Manuel Villar Jr.

14

14

22

15

12

Joseph Estrada

13

15

5

14

13

Francis Escudero

12

14

10

9

12

Noli De Castro

7

5

14

8

6

Don’t Know

2

1

0

1

3

None

1

1

1

1

2

Source: Social Weather Stations, 2009

According to Mahar Mangahas (2009: 15), the Lingayen-Lucena corridor “extending from Metro Manila to the north into Central Luzon and up to Pangasinan, and to the south into Southern Tagalog provinces on Luzon island, is where presidential races have traditionally been won, with the notable exception of the 2004 election”. In the Lingayan- Lucena corridor, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the national vote. the special survey had Noynoy scoring a phenomenal 50 percent over his closest rivals. The question of whether the “Noynoy phenomenon” was limited to Manila and Luzon was answered by the result of the 3 rd Quarter regular SWS survey (see Table 9) taken from September 18 to 21, 2009, in which Aquino was named by an astounding 60 percent of respondents as their choice for president. Despite his being off the political radar in the nine polls since 2007, Noynoy’s ranking took off from virtually zero to 60 percent (Mangahas, 2009). 4 Aquino’s

  • 4 Since 2007, the SWS utilized the “best three” method in tracking the viable candidates for its regular quarterly national surveys. Respondents are asked to name up to three names (plural, as in sinu-sino). The objective is not to approximate actual election day voting but to identify and track the potentially viable candidates (Mangahas 2009).

148

frontrunner status was further reinforced by the result of the Pulse Asia survey conducted from October 22 to 30, 2009, where he scored 44 percent nationwide, a 25 percent margin over second placer Manny Villar (see Table 12).

Table 12: Pulse Asia First Choice Presidential Preference for 2010 Election (October 22-30, 2009)

 

Location

 

Class

 

Bal

 

RP

NCR

Luz

Vis

Min

ABC

D

E

Aquino, Benigno “Noynoy” III

44

47

41

53

41

51

44

44

Villar, Manuel Jr.

19

11

19

24

19

13

20

18

Escudero, Francis

13

17

16

9

9

12

15

10

Estrada, Joseph

11

11

9

3

21

5

9

17

De Castro, Noli

4

2

5

5

4

1

4

6

Teodoro, Gilbert

2

4

1

1

1

4

2

1

Fernando, Bayani

1

1

1

0

1

1

1

1

Villanueva, Eduardo

1

0

2

0

1

1

1

1

Others

1

0

1

1

0

1

0

1

None/Refused/Undecided

3

3

4

4

2

2

4

2

Source: Pulse Asia, 2009

Keys to Success

Some political analysts and opinion columnists have described the surge in the surveys of Noynoy Aquino as a “game changer”. With the rise in his numbers in the surveys, it is apparent that the core reformist

issues such as transparency, accountability and good governance have gained ground as the central issues of the 2010 election. As political analyst Amando Doronila (2009) observed, “the survey results reflect the deep and broad resonance of the issue of clean and honest governance

Image, issue, and machinery: Presidential campaigns in post-1986 Philippines

149

that highlights Aquino’s campaign theme. The groundswell of support for Aquino following the death of his mother, President Cory Aquino, flows from the public service record of his mother and his father, the martyred former Sen. Benigno Aquino, whose honesty and transparency appear to have been accepted by the Filipino public”.

The entry of Aquino has definitely shifted the momentum of the campaign from the initial focus on “ground” and “air” wars, to a revival of the issue-based, middle-class-backed reformist crusade reminiscent of the campaigns of Ramon Magsaysay in 1953 and Corazon Aquino in 1986. Both reformist campaigns faced critical elections that “provided unique opportunities for transformist mobilization to ease, if not resolve the deep-rooted ‘system contradictions’ which had crystallized into full blown political crises” (Hedman & Sidel, 2000:

20). In the same light, the imperatives of addressing the legitimation crisis of the Arroyo administration have galvanized reform-oriented individuals and civil society organizations around the candidacy of Noynoy Aquino. In effect, the aspirations for “change” and “hope” and a rejection of “politics as usual” are fuelling the groundswell of support for Aquino across class, age and region. The main challenge for the Aquino campaign is to sustain this support into vote-generating and vote-protecting machineries that will assure him of victory in

2010.

As of this writing, there are four serious contenders for the presidency: Aquino, Villar, Estrada and Teodoro. This number is expected to narrow down by the start of the official campaign period on February 9, 2010. Each candidate is capitalizing on his perceived strengths in positioning against the others (see Figure 6). In terms of market votes, Aquino’s closest competitor is Erap Estrada. The former

president, the most media-savvy among the potential candidates, still attracts a core of solid supporters, but his numbers have dwindled from his phenomenal rankings in 1998. No doubt, his image has been greatly affected by his ouster from the presidency, his conviction for plunder, and more recently, his alleged complicity in a celebrated

150

murder that happened during his controversial administration. He also faces the possibility of disqualification, given the constitutional provision on term limits that bans the president from seeking any reelection. In terms of command votes, Manny Villar has mobilized his vast fortune to finance the revitalization of the moribund Nacionalista Party. Since 2001, the billionaire legislator has been rebuilding the NP to serve as his vehicle for the presidency. Using the network he has built as former House Speaker and Senate President, Villar has either directly raided other parties or quietly secured the support of local and national politicians. He has invested large amounts in political advertising, which has translated into positive survey ratings. Despite efforts by his critics to implicate him in corruption scandals and portray him as a trapo, he is among the best-prepared candidates to take the reins of the presidency, given his professional and political experience. With his “rags-to-riches” story, he offers a compelling narrative to the Filipino electorate that can rival the masa appeal of Erap. Equally prepared to succeed the presidency is Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro. A bar topnotcher, three-term congressman, and known protégé of his uncle Danding Cojuangco, Teodoro shifted allegiance from the NPC to Lakas-CMD to contest the presidential nomination of the ruling coalition. He won the nomination almost by default, after frontrunner Noli de Castro refused to participate in the primaries. However, Teodoro is a virtual unknown with survey rankings hovering between 0.8 to 4 percent in the SWS surveys. He is also saddled with the unenviable task of defending the largely unpopular Arroyo administration. Adding to his troubles is his less-than-impressive performance as Chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) during the two recent typhoons that hit Manila and Northern Luzon which caused massive floods and losses to lives and property. What Teodoro lacks in terms of popularity, he hopes to make up for in terms of the almost monolithic machinery of the ruling coalition. The merged administration parties – Lakas-Kampi-CMD – claim the support

Image, issue, and machinery: Presidential campaigns in post-1986 Philippines

151

of about 70 percent of governors, congressmen and mayors across the country (Burgonio & Salaverra, 2009). Out of 219 congressional seats, Lakas-Kampi-CMD have 146 representatives, or about 66.7 percent representation. In the gubernatorial race, they have 58 candidates out of 80 slots, or 72.5 percent of the total available posts. For the city and municipal mayoral positions, they have 85 out of 120, and 1,112 out of 1,507 positions, respectively (Joven, 2009).

Command Votes Market Votes Government Money Party Issues Image Teodoro Villar Aquino Estrada
Command Votes
Market Votes
Government
Money
Party
Issues
Image
Teodoro
Villar
Aquino
Estrada

Figure 6: 2010 Candidate Positioning

Competing narratives of reformism, clientelism and populism

Thus far, electoral campaigns in post-authoritarian Philippines have been waged with competing narratives of reformism, populism and clientelism. Thompson (2009), in his contribution to this volume, argues that these three are but forms of “elite politics”. The tradition of Filipino-style reformist politics, which can be traced to the presidential campaigns of Ramon Magsaysay in 1953 and Corazon Aquino in 1986, has been revived in the issue-based anti-corruption and good governance campaigns of Miriam Defensor Santiago in 1992

and Raul Roco in 1998 and 2004. The same reformist aspirations have been rekindled to fuel the surging campaign of Noynoy Aquino. However, the failure of reform politics to address the problem of poverty, coupled with the ascendancy of mass media, fueled the image-based populist campaigns of Joseph Estrada in 1998 and

152

Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004. Meanwhile, continued clientelism and money politics manifested itself in the machine-based campaigns of Ramon Mitra in 1992 and Jose de Venecia in 1998. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s successful revitalization of clientelism in 2004 managed to undercut the threat of a populist restoration (Thompson 2009). But in so doing, she also triggered a legitimation crisis that nearly toppled her administration and damaged fundamental institutions. The last three elections in the post-1986 period “were not a severance from the past but a continuation – with some surprising twists” (Coronel, 2003: 11). A formidable political machinery is not enough to guarantee success in presidential elections, as experienced by Mitra and de Venecia. The experiences of Santiago and Roco demonstrate that image and issues are also not enough to win presidential elections; a candidate needs the corresponding political machinery to get and protect his votes. Successful presidential campaigns are characterized by the right mix and astute use of popularity and machinery. It has been observed that the Filipino electorate has shifted from “feudal” to “mass” politics. The successive electoral exercises since 1992 have pointed to the rising inadequacies of relying on strong provincial bailiwicks in winning national office. The so-called “command votes” must now be supplemented by “market votes”. Like the mass market, the electorate must be segmented and targeted. Thus, national candidates (e.g., presidents and senators) must be packaged to target defined niches in a highly segmented electorate (Magno, 1992). Ultimately, media and public opinion polling have emerged as a primary and most influential conduit between national candidates and the electorate. These trends will continue to shape and define electoral campaigns in the Philippines.

Image, issue, and machinery: Presidential campaigns in post-1986 Philippines

153

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157

Appendix 1:

1992 Presidential Candidates and Census

Variables: Percentage of Variance in Votes Accounted

for by Census Variables

 

F.

M.

E.

R.

I.

J.

S.

Ramos

Santiago

Cojuangco

Mitra

Marcos

Salonga

Laurel

     

Language

       

Cebuano

4.97

-4.49

-0.24

0.45

3.84

2.54

-0.32

Tagalog

-1.20

-1.46

0.97

0.43

2.29

0.51

20.06

Ilocano

-0.01

-4.33

8.09

-1.97

8.51

1.18

1.21

Hiligaynon

1.17

1.15

-0.15

-1.91

4.62

0.44

-0.43

Bicolano

0.00

-0.52

-0.02

0.16

0.01

0.45

0.03

Samar-Leyte

-3.20

-3.15

-2.02

-0.07

9.72

10.44

0.38

Pangasinan

14.19

0.01

0.63

-0.15

-2.76

-0.48

-1.05

Major

             

Language

0.91

2.24

-0.01

-0.85

-2.21

1.34

-0.03

     

Religion

       

Protestant

5.06

0.61

-1.74

0.06

-2.41

0.44

-9.43

Aglipayan

-0.90

0.39

-0.15

-2.19

1.66

-1.58

0.94

Iglesia ni

0.12

0.00

1.46

0.00

-4.79

-0.31

-0.60

Cristo

Muslim

0.62

0.14

0.00

0.42

-3.52

0.36

-3.75

Other

             

Religion

-0.99

0.62

-0.27

1.61

-3.06

-0.01

0.01

     

Crops

       

Rice

-3.73

1.72

0.41

-0.75

0.14

0.12

0.75

Corn

-5.13

0.12

0.90

0.05

-0.39

-0.75

2.95

Sugar

-3.25

-0.02

0.01

0.02

-0.99

-0.63

17.14

Tobacco

-0.29

1.02

-0.55

-0.05

-0.41

-1.42

-1.03

Perm. Crops

-0.31

0.54

-0.52

-0.86

-0.34

0.07

8.42

     

Information

       

College

-0.46

2.99

-2.15

-2.77

-0.02

0.02

10.82

Grade School

-1.38

-0.92

-0.28

0.98

1.04

2.50

0.72

No School

0.00

-1.58

-0.74

0.00

4.44

0.33

4.89

Radio

0.00

-0.68

0.00

4.78

0.01

-5.10

0.34

Source: Landé 1996

158

Appendix 2:

Presidential Votes by Language Based

on Social Weather Stations 1998 Exit Polls

 

Total

Tagalog

 

Ce-

Ilonggo

Ilocano

Bicol

Ka-

 

Pang-

 

Cha-

Other

Other

 

Oth-

RP

buano

pam-

Waray

sin-

va-

Lu-

Visayan

er

Mind-

 

pan-

ense

cano

zon

anao

gan

 

(100%)

(34%)

 

(25%)

 

(8%)

 

(8%)

(5%)

(2%)

(3%)

(2%)

 

(1%)

(2%)

(4%)

(5%)

Estrada

38.8%

41.7%

 

31.1%

 

43.6%

49.6%

9.9%

44.7%

6.1%

7.9%

52.4%

38.9%

37.3%

 

52.7%

De

Venecia

16.2

 

15.4

12.5

  • 10.8 12.1

24.7

7.2

 

14.3

90.6

 

5.3

26.8

11.1

 

27.4

Roco

13.4

   

3.0

  • 19.1 22.2

    • 3.6 1.5

5.4

80.0

 

0.6

   

5.3

15.7

4.9

 

1.9

Osmeña

12.1

1.5

 

38.8

 

9.0

 

0.4

0.0

0.0

6.3

0.0

 

8.3

 

0.0

15.3

 

8.7