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No opposition

"If that happens on May 13, it will consolidate President Duterte’s stranglehold of the legislative branch."


If you believe Pulse Asia, not a single opposition senator will be elected this year. If that happens on May 13, it will consolidate President Rodrigo Duterte’s stranglehold of the legislative branch. We will have a Senate whose wit, brilliance, sense of purpose and capacity for visioning are remarkable—for their pedestrian underpinnings.

The good president-mayor’s appointees already dominate the Supreme Court. So in all three branches of government, Duterte will hold sway.

I suppose with the President’s declaration that his anti-drugs war is failing, martial law can be expected to leapfrog into Visayas and Luzon, from Mindanao, to cope with the drug lords and drug addicts as well as with a gnawing poverty that afflicts 25 million of 107-million Filipinos.

This will make the former Davao mayor of 23 years the most powerful president ever. Duterte as virtual dictator may be bad—or good.

A benevolent dictator could do wonders in an archipelago that has been ruled by only 100 families in the last 100 years. Maybe, he could disrupt that oppressive a setup. At the other extreme is the possibility of widespread abuse and corruption.

Having seen the worst in this country, I remain optimistic and hopeful. Filipinos are courageous, intelligent and resilient enough to challenge and survive abuse. And this country is rich enough to accommodate corruption of the plunder kind.

Pulse Asia says reelectionist independent Senator Grace Poe has consolidated her topnotcher position in the May 2016 senatorial race, with a commanding 72.6 percent of voters voting for her. That’s equivalent to 29.04-million votes, assuming 40-million votes for senators.

No single opposition candidate makes it to the Magic 12 winning senators. Only reelectionist Senator Paulo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV is the opposition candidate with the best chance of making it.

The cousin of former President BS Aquino III sits precariously in No. 13, with 33.8 percent of voters voting for him, equivalent to 13.52-million votes. Bam is 2.4 percentage points (or 960,000 votes) behind the 12th placer, returning Senator Jinggoy Estrada, who has a 35.2-percent rating (or 14.08-million votes).

The previous opposition No. 12, former Senator Manuel Araneta Roxas, fell precipitously to No. 16, with just 31.3 percent (or 12.52 million) of voters likely to vote for him. Roxas, the defeated No. 2 presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, is 1.56 million votes behind Jinggoy Estrada.

Still, Pulse Asia considers Roxas a probable winner.

Duterte’s three personal choices for senator are now all likely winners: Bong Go, No. 4; Bato dela Rosa, No. 8; and Francis Tolentino, No. 11.

If the May 2019 senatorial elections were held during the survey period, 16 out of the 62 candidates would have a statistical chance of winning, according to Pulse Asia’s March 2019 poll.

Most of the probable winners are either former or incumbent members of Congress and among them, ten are running under the coalition of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, two from the Liberal Party, another two independent; one from the Nationalist People’s Coalition, and one is from the United Nationalist Alliance.

In second place to Grace Poe is Senator Cynthia Villar, another reelectionist, who has the support of 63.7 percent of registered voters.

The billionaire Villar is followed by Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, whose voter preference of 58.5 percent translates to a statistical ranking of third to fourth places.

In third to fifth places is former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go, backed by 55.7 percent of voters.

Close behind is Taguig City Representative and former senator Pia Cayetano, ranked fourth to sixth with 52.2 percent. All four—Villar, Angara, Go, and Cayetano, are with HNP.

Former Senator Lito Lapid, NPC, will garner 48.4 percent of votes, and could place fifth to eighth.

Sixth to ninth are Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay (45.5 percent), of UNA; and former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Chief Ronald dela Rosa (44.8 percent), of the HNP coalition.

They are followed by four other HNP candidates: former Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr. (40.9 percent, seventh to 10th), Ilocos Governor Imee Marcos (39.0 percent, ninth to 12th), former Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Francis Tolentino (35.7 percent, tenth to 16th), and former Senator Jinggoy Estrada (35.2 percent, 10th to 16th).

Senator Paolo Aquino (33.8 percent), LP, former Senate President Aquino Pimentel III (33.6 percent), HNP, and former Senator Sergio Osmeña III (33.0 percent), independent, are battling for 11th to 16th places.

Completing the list of probable winners is former Senator Manuel Roxas II (31.3 percent), LP. He could land between 11th and 17th.

Pulse Asia’s March 2019 nationwide survey has 1,800 adult respondents (18 and above), and a + 2.3 percent error margin, at 95 percent confidence level. 

Subnational estimates for the geographic areas have error margins of: + 6.5 percent for Metro Manila, + 3.5 percent for the rest of Luzon, + 5.3 percent for Visayas and + 4.7 percent for Mindanao.

When I was in high school, I used to spend my free afternoons attending Senate sessions. There was no No ID-No Entry rule so everybody could come in. The Senate was the best school one could attend, for free. And yes, you could touch the senators, no matter your social standing. Some wore white suits as clean as their integrity and conscience.

You could see Ferdinand Marcos presiding while senators of both NP and LP were debating—Jose W. Diokno (he topped both bar and accounting exams without finishing law and accounting), Jovito Salonga, Lorenzo Tañada, Arturo Tolentino, Gerardo Roxas, Ambrosio Padilla, Ninoy Aquino, Emmanuel Pelaez, Sergio Osmeña Jr., Gil Puyat, Camilio Osias, Lorenzo Sumulong, Jose J. Roy, Francisco Soc Rodrigo, Tecla San Andres Ziga, Magnolia Antonino, Maria Kalaw Katigbak, Alejandro Almendras, Juan Liwag, Leonardo Perez, Manuel Manahan, Genaro Magsaysay, Rodolfo Ganzon, to name some.

The lawyers were usually bar topnotchers (Marcos, Salonga, Diokno, Sumulong, Pelaez, Tolentino, Liwag, Ziga, Padilla). Most graduated with honors and had masters degrees. They were great tycoons, educationists, sportsmen and champions, writers, orators, people of mensa means.

These senators were not elected with the help of SWS, Pulse Asia and Smartmatic. And hey, they were insanely great and the country was great, the second richest in Asia.

Topics: Tony Lopez , No opposition , Pulse Asia , Senatorial candidates , midterm elections
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