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Philippine Presidential Candidates Profiling: The Race Is On

By Bingo P Dejaresco

The presidential race took a dramatic turn, per SWS and Pulse Asia surveys, in the middle part of February. For the first time, President Gloria Arroyo is leading the pack.

This probably results from two political theorems: "All Philippine politics is local" and "One week is a long time in politics."

The local grassroots machinery of an incumbent president (the first one since Marcos) of GMA throughout the nation is telling now. The refusal of FPJ to engage in a debate and the cloud over his citizenship may also have slowed down Da King's march to the Palace.

The actual SWS figure results are as follows: GMA (31.8%), FPJ (31.6%), Roco (17%) and Lacson (12%). Last year Roco lead all with 27% at one time.

FPJ and GMA also had the most loyal voters with 54% and 51% of them respectively stating they will not change their minds come election time compared to only 49% for Roco and 46% for Lacson. There is a 6% undecided with survey margin of error at (+) and (-) percent. So it is still a toss-up between GMA and FPJ even down the wire.

GMA is leading strong in the ABC market and a slight lead over FPJ in the D market. FPJ is a runaway winner among the E class. Roco has sewn up the regional-minded Bicol vote, some of the women and young voters and the principled intelligentsia (unfortunately not too many). Lacson is the favorite of some Chinese groups and those who want an iron hand to check graft and criminality.

GMA is 2:1 favored over FPJ in the Visayas (her strongest bailiwick) and a significant winner in Mindanao. However FPJ is leader in Manila and Luzon which has three powerful vote-rich provinces in Pangasinan, Cavite (Lacson's birth place) and Laguna.

FPJ and Lacson, however, have been talking one-on-one secretly. Is there an unwritten bond for FPJ to support Lacson had he been disqualified by the Supreme Court? And for Lacson to give way to Da King after their scheduled April 15 meeting in order to unify and ensure an opposition victory in the May 10 polls?

Theoretically, combining FPJ's (32%) and Lacson's (12%) is a 44% total, nearly where Erap was when he walloped all rivals in the 1998 polls. That will certainly be ahead of GMA's current 32%.

Wouldn't that prospects talk sense to the GMA and Roco camps, whose totals combined can beat FPJ-Lacson's 44% with their total of 49% (32% + 17%)?

Truly, politics is literally addition in this case. One thing sure though, FPJ is no longer a runaway winner as many hoped or feared. - 2004 News Archive of the Bohol Chronicle

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