2022 PH presidential race

Isko, Pacquiao could benefit from Duterte vs. Marcos – analysts

Pia Ranada
Isko, Pacquiao could benefit from Duterte vs. Marcos – analysts
The Manila mayor and the retired boxing champ will include wooing Duterte supporters as a clear strategy to win, say political analysts

Isko Moreno and Manny Pacquiao would likely benefit from President Rodrigo Duterte’s attacks against Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a sign that courting Duterte supporters could be an important political strategy for the two in the months ahead.

In a Rappler Talk interview on Monday, November 22, political analysts Tony La Viña and Cleve Arguelles agree that the energetic Manila mayor is the most “well-placed” to get those votes.

“If you look at those three people, then I think, more or less, Mayor Isko Moreno is likely to get those votes but it’s not a guarantee,” said Arguelles, referring to Marcos, Moreno, and Vice President Leni Robredo, the top three presidential bets according to the most recent Social Weather Stations survey.

“We know that the Duterte votes, if they’re leaving the Marcoses for example, there’s little chance that they would prefer the candidacy of Vice President Leni Robredo. They could also go to Senator Bong Go as the anointed one but I think he has to prove he is winnable,” said Arguelles, a political science lecturer with De La Salle University.

Isko’s cards

Moreno has publicly dissassociated himself with opposition groups – criticizing Robredo and begging off from 1Sambayan. These moves turned off opposition supporters and even led others to label him a “Duterte 2.0,” but they may just pay off if Moreno plays his cards right.

“In a way, Mayor Isko lost the opposition vote because it was all consolidated with VP Leni. But that actually now positions him to try to convert the bigger base of voters either leaning Marcos/Duterte or do not care about the Marcos legacy and is still open to other candidates,” said La Viña, former dean of Ateneo School of Government.

In his media interviews and “listening tours” in different parts of the country, the 47-year-old Moreno has emphasized that he will continue the “good” Build Build Build projects by the Duterte administration. At the same time, he’s insisted that he’s not a Duterte puppet and has also criticized Duterte policies, notably those on pandemic response.

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Moreno has also praised some aspects of dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ legacy while condemning human rights abuses during his regime.

More recently, in front of farmers and factory workers, Moreno has slammed the Marcos vs. opposition vs. Duterte narrative as one belonging to political elites and not really relevant to the majority of Filipinos.

In Laguna last November 19, for example, Moreno recast word wars and legal cases filed by opposition camps, Marcos, and the Duterte government as political bickering that only distracts from the real problems of citizens – poverty, hungery, the pandemic.

Hindi ko gagawin yung ginawa ng mga nakaraan dahil sa higantihan, away. Matapos ang nakaraan, ipakukulong ng kasalukuyan imbis na ang ayusin ang buhay ng tao,” Moreno told farmers in Calauan town.

(I won’t do what previous politicians did for vengeance – jailing their predecessors in the present instead of improving the lives of people.)

Minsan, ang mga totoong salita medyo masakit sa tainga, pero mas masakit ang hapdi ng tiyan (Sometimes, real talk is painful to the ears but hunger is more painful.),” he added.

A populist of a different strain from Duterte, Moreno is portraying himself as Tondo scavenger who clawed his way to political power and is now challenging these elites as a true representative of the people.

Pacquiao’s opportunity in Mindanao

Pacquiao, meanwhile, could see Duterte supporters in Mindanao, shifting allegiance from Marcos to him, predicted La Viña. Like Duterte, the retired boxing champion counts Mindanao as his bailiwick because he hails from one of its major urban centers, General Santos City.

La Viña says he’s seeing Moreno and Pacquiao drawing “a lot of crowds” at their events, many of whom appear to be from the “masa” or lower-income class which form the bulk of the country’s voters.

In comparison, he said, it seems while Robredo has succeeded in consolidating her base, she is attracting mostly the middle class to her events.

Disqualification case vs. Marcos

But the real “game changer” would be if a Commission on Elections now dominated by Duterte appointees were to decide to disqualify Marcos, said La Viña.

Duterte’s public rants against him could be a “signal” to officials that he wouldn’t be displeased if the former senator were to be taken out of the race, he added.

Even if Marcos were to take such a decision to the Supreme Court, the petition could drag on for months, hurting his presidential bid the way a disqualification case hurt the 2016 candidacy of Grace Poe.

But will Duterte’s verbal volleys alone significantly dent Marcos’ popularity? Arguelles said that while Duterte does hold sway among his supporters, Marcos also does not need 100% of Duterte supporters by his side.

On the flipside, if Marcos remains dominant in April, both La Viña and Arguelles won’t be surprised if Duterte does an about-face and declares support for the presidential bet at the last minute.

“For them, politics is you can say anything you want to gain an advantage and you can abandon what you say once it’s no longer needed or once new circumastances arise,” said La Viña. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.