File photo by Richard Madelo/Presidential Photo
Remember how 11 million voters elected Antonio Trillanes IV to the Senate in 2007 to show their disgust for the controversy-hounded Arroyo administration?
How much has the Philippine electorate changed since then? A lot, if Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo were to be believed.
At a Palace news briefing on Tuesday, February 12, Panelo was asked about President Rodrigo Duterte’s so-called endorsement "magic" in the coming elections and whether Malacañang was confident it would translate to victory for the administration slate. The Chief Executive continues to enjoy high approval and trust ratings nearly midway into his term, but whether this would rub off on his anointed candidates is another question.
Panelo initially brushed off the supposed midterm referendum on the President, saying even Duterte does not believe in his supposed "magical powers to endorse." (READ: Duterte's chosen ones: Who will benefit most from the President's endorsement?)
Panelo then sought to respond to the question by offering an explanation on why voters may choose opposition candidates in May.
“As far as I’m concerned, and I think the President will agree with me, even the winning of an opposition candidate doesn’t mean a repudiation of the administration. It only means that when opposition candidates win, it is an expression of the electorate, telling them, ‘We’re putting you there to cooperate with this administration because we believe in this presidency, and not you, to destabilize it,'" said Panelo, sounding like the unofficial spokesperson of Filipino voters.
He added: “I think that should be the message: ‘Kaya ka ilalalagay diyan, para tumulong ka. Naniniwala kami sa iyo na tutulong ka kay Presidente, hindi para sirain mo ‘yung kanyang mga programa de gobyerno sapagkat naniniwala nga kami sa kanya, nakita mo nga ang survey parati kaming approve. Kaya ka namin ilalagay diyan. Tulungan mo.’ I think that’s a good message coming from the electorate."
(I think that should be the message: “You’re elected there so that you will help. We believe that you will help the President, not destroy his government programs, because we believe in him – you’ve seen the survey approval ratings. That’s why we’re putting you there. Help him.” I think that’s a good message coming from the electorate.)
When asked, Panelo declined to say if the administration or opposition candidates appeared to have stronger chances of winning, recalling the President’s directive for government officials not to endorse any candidate.
Based on the latest survey on voters' preference in the senatorial race, only two opposition candidates have so far managed to break into the so-called winners' circle, former interior secretary Mar Roxas and reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino. – Rappler.com