Friday, March 26, 2010

How can Noynoy (still) win the Elections?

Recent surveys show that Sen. Noynoy Aquino is going down in popularity as far as Filipino voters are concerned. If the trend continues, Sen. Manny Villar seems posed to win the May 2010 elections leaving the LP camp confused as to what could have hit them.

I think Aquino’s waning popularity is the result of major mistakes committed by his camp rather than on what the competition did. These major mistakes include

1. Their complete reliance on winnability/popularity, and
2. The negative tenor of their campaign.

Sen. Aquino ran for President on the basis of the popularity he gained from the extensive positive media coverage of his mother’s illness and subsequent death. The initial survey results understandably reflect such popularity but it does not mean the majority of voters are ready to embrace him no matter what. Everyone already recognizes the Aquino brand and the senator does not need to remind us about it. However, he still made sure we are reminded by invoking his parent’s legacy every time he is asked to speak. Perhaps he didn’t realize that voters are looking forward to know more what is behind the brand rather than have the brand merely repeated to them.

Obviously, Aquino will not get elected on the basis of what he did in the past. His performance in his three terms in congress and three years on the Senate did not produce any significant results. The fact that his home province of Tarlac, for which he could have wielded influence, has not shown any remarkable success, did not help to create the idea that at least he could have done something. His usual defense, “’fiscalization’ is what he did” simply does not hold water. The word “fiscalization” itself cannot be found in the dictionary, while more people, other senators, who produced more results, certainly has a better claim to it.

Because of lack of past performance to talk about, the Aquino camp banked on mere popularity to forward their cause. They used celebrities led by her controversial sister, popular actress and host Kris Aquino. They used surveys to create a bandwagon and to arrogantly turn the tables on the voters. Up to this day, Aquino ads are saying that it is the people who wanted him to run (obviously referring to the surveys), and not him wanting the Presidency. Now that the survey numbers are not favoring his argument, people would wonder: will he stop his run and go back to his slumber in the senate?

Aside from too much reliance on popularity, the other major blunder of Aquino is his negative campaign. First, his camp has shown their complete obsession or aversion of anything with Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in it. His platform says it all, he is just about anything but Arroyo. Meanwhile, his campaign says he will not steal, meaning everyone else are thieves. Also, they try to create the image that his main rival Sen. Manny Villar is the Arroyo reincarnate. While Aquino is not far behind in ad expenditures, his camp insists that Villar is using money to buy the Presidency and everyone on his way. The Aquino camp does all these while trying to create the illusion that their own campaign is a campaign of and by the people.

But there is truth to the saying that when you point an accusing finger, your other fingers will surely point at yourself. Of course, Aquino has been hounded and hurt by his lack of leadership and transparency, to put it in its mildest, on the Hacienda Luisita issue – the issue that could even eventually tarnish the legacy of his mother.

Instead of correcting their mistakes though, the Aquino camp is now resorting to stoking fear to get votes. They now talk about different far fetched scenarios such as “failure of elections” and military junta as they regularly attack the integrity of the Supreme Court and the Commission on Elections. They are now talking about leading “People Power”, presumably in case they would not win.

I think the Aquino camp has got to stop its arrogance. Rather than bank on popularity while branding everyone else as “evil” to continue their negative campaign, Aquino should instead sit down and reflect on real solutions that he can offer the country. Instead of simply mouthing platitudes and meaningless generalities which Villar is similarly doing, the Aquino team should differentiate their candidate by really studying the problems and coming up with and presenting real solutions, with details down to the last centavo needed to implement them.

I am not sure if Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III still has time to do this, but if he cannot explain his past, he should at least fully explain and show us the next six years of the country if we would have him as President. This I think is the only way now that he could win the May 2010 elections.

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