‘Mahaba pa ang laban’: Survey laggard Otso Diretso bets still positive

Mara Cepeda

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‘Mahaba pa ang laban’: Survey laggard Otso Diretso bets still positive

Ben Nabong

(UPDATED) Vice President Leni Robredo also suspects black propaganda against Otso Diretso candidates Mar Roxas and Bam Aquino, but did not give any evidence for her claim

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Opposition senatorial candidates of Otso Diretso are still hopeful about their chances of winning the elections despite their poor performance in the latest Pulse Asia survey.

Several Otso Diretso bets weighed in on their numbers in the March Pulse Asia survey on the sidelines of their campaign sortie in Aklan on Thursday, April 11. (READ: Otso Diretso plays catch-up on campaign trail)

“Hindi pa tapos ang laban. Marami pang puwedeng mangyari sa mga susunod na araw at linggo. At inaasahan namin na sa katapusan nito ay magtatagumpay din kami,” said Chel Diokno, who is a veteran human rights lawyer and founding dean of the De La Salle University College of Law. 

(The fight is not yet over. We can still do a lot of things in the next days and weeks. And we are hoping that in the end, we will succeed.)

Diokno’s ranking slightly fell to the 23rd to 30th mark in March from 22nd to 27th in February. His awareness rating also decreased by one point to 38%, while 4.6% of respondents said they would vote for him in March, a dip of 2.3% compared to February. 

Samira Gutoc, the Marawi civic leader pushing for peace and women’s empowerment, is happy her survey numbers improved last month. From a 19% awareness rating in February, Gutoc’s rating in March is now at 27%, with 4.8% of respondents saying they would vote for her. Her ranking improved from 26th to 34th in February to 23rd to 30th in March. 

“Slow, steady, and sure. Every week umaakyat tayo (we are rising). There’s still one month,” said Gutoc, crediting her numbers’ slight improvement to the opposition ticket’s visit to far-flung areas. 

Former Quezon congressman Erin Tañada said this only means Otso Diretso needs to work harder until the day of the elections

“Kailangan sipag pa rin dahil ang reaction naman sa baba, kapag kami ay bumababa sa iba’t ibang komunidad, masaya at mainit na tinatanggap po kaming mga Otso Diretso. At as a matter of fact, may iba’t ibang mga area na hindi pinupuntahan ng ibang mga candidates, nangangako po na ang Otso Diretso ang iboboto po nila,” said Tañada.

(We need perserverance because whenever we go down to the communities, Otso Diretso is warmly welcomed. And as a matter of fact, in the different areas the candidates have been to, the people are promising they would vote for Otso Diretso.)

As of Friday, April 12, only two of the 8 Otso Diretso bets – former interior chief Mar Roxas and reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino – have breached into the proverbial winners’ circle in pre-election surveys. The rest are still lagging behind. (READ: Otso Diretso turns to volunteers to boost struggling campaign)

Black propaganda?

Vice President Leni Robredo, Liberal Party chairperson and leader of the opposition, suspects there are black operations being conducted against Roxas and Aquino to put them out of the Magic 12.

“Si Secretary Mar saka si Senator Bam, talagang mayroong operasyon na hindi sila makapasok sa 12. So dapat, kami talaga extra effort din para ma-contradict iyong ganitong strategy,” said Robredo in a separate ambush interview in Aklan. 

(Secretary Mar and Senator Bam, there is really an operation for them not to make it to the 12 spots up for grabs. So we should exert extra effort to contradict that kind of strategy.)

Robredo, however, did not cite any evidence for her claim. Still, Aquino told Rappler that false information about him is being spread online for the past 3 years.

Halos 3 taon na ang paninira at fake news sa atin, pero palagay ko natututo na rin ang taumbayan sa mga propaganda at kasinungalingang ito. At lalo ring nanggigigil ang ating mga tiga-suporta kapag mayroon na namang pekeng balita sa atin,” Aquino said in a text message.

(The attacks and fake news against us have been going on for almost 3 years, but I think the public is now learning from these propaganda and lies. And our supporters get more motivated whenever there are fake news about us.)

Aquino’s numbers actually improved in the March survey. In February, he ranked 13th to 17th with 30.4% of respondents opting to vote for him. But in March, he saw a slight increase in his ranking to the 11th to 16th mark, with 33.8% of respondents saying they would vote for Aquino. 

Ang pagtaas natin at pagbalik sa Magic 12 ay dulot ng patuloy nating pag-iikot at sa tulong ng mga volunteers at taumbayan,” he said.

(The rise in our numbers and our return to the Magic 12 is due to our rounds and help from our volunteers and the public.)

It was Roxas who saw a significant decrease in his survey performance. Pulse Asia’s March senatorial survey showed Roxas falling to the 11th to 17th ranking, with 31.3% of respondents saying they would vote for him. Roxas fared better in February, when he ranked 8th to 12th, with 39.8% of respondents opting to vote for him. His awareness rating remained steady at 99%.

Roxas, however, credits the dip in his numbers to the 20 days he spent overseas together with his family, including his newborn twins Pepe and Pilar. – Rappler.com 

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.