Thursday, October 29, 2009

Can Chiz win as an independent?

Written by Carmela Fonbuena
Thursday, 29 October 2009

Senator Francis Escudero may have doomed his chances for the presidency in 2010 when he left the Nationalist People’s Coaltion (NPC), according to politicians and political analysts interviewed by

After his shocking announcement on Wednesday, Escudero asked his supporters to give him more time to decide whether or not he will pursue his candidacy in 2010.

However, his political adviser, Angelito Banayo, said Escudero would still run. He added that a “parallel network” that would solicit and deliver votes—the youth groups, young professionals, and Tsinoy businessmen among others--is in place. (See story: Chiz to run for president; network in place)

But others doubt whether this would be enough to make a candidate win.

“It’s almost zero,” said political analyst Ramon Casiple, when asked to assess Escudero’s chances if he decides to run for president as an independent candidate.

Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER), said Escudero lost the machinery of the NPC, which is key to raising money for the campaign and maintaining a presence nationwide.

Escudero’s former colleagues at the House of Representatives are likewise not optimistic of his chances.

“It’s quite slim. No candidate for president ever won without a political party. Of course, miracles can happen,” said Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco of the Lakas-KampiCMD.

"He has no chance at all. He would be without NPC national and local officials to carry him. He would be bereft of funds to fuel his campaign. It has never happened that a party-less candidate won the presidency, I think," said Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao of the NPC.

“I doubt whether Chiz would be running for president. He’ll be running without the better known political parties. Kahit tumakbo sya for vice president. Sinabi nya, dapat walang partido. Kung pangangatawanan nya, he will not be able to join any well known party,” ParaƱaque Rep. Roilo Golez.

“Nothing is impossible, but highly improbable,” said Nueva Ecija Rep. Rodolfo Antonino of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

Best scenario

Makati City Rep. Teodoro Locsin of the PDP-Laban said there’s hope, but Escudero faces the challenge of capitalizing on his new independence.

“Right now, Aquino-Roxas is the team to beat. But if Chiz can capitalize on the 'no baggage' theme, he could pose a threat to the Liberal and the Hyatt-10 luggage, and the container van that [Nacionalista Party's Manny] Villar is pushing,” Locsin said.

Two congressmen—Escudero's former party mate Palawan Rep. Abraham Mitra and Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP)--are optimistic that Escudero can still maintain his following.

“His chances may be the same as before because most voters here don’t look at a candidate’s party,” said Angara.

“Votes of Chiz are his and not NPC’s. While we are sad that he left, we wish him well. Friendship goes beyond politics,” said Mitra.

But even with his current supporters, Escudero won't win the elections--assuming voter preferences don't change.

Escudero placed fourth place in the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted September 18-21 with 15% support. The top three in the survey were Liberal Party’s Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (60%), Senator Manuel Villar (37%), and former President Joseph Estrada (18%). Respondents were allowed to give 3 names. (Read: Noynoy, Villar best leaders to succeed Arroyo)

No machinery, not enough time

Even party-list representative Satur Ocampo of the leftist Bayan Muna acknowledges that political machinery is important.

“Campaigning for president requires a strong machinery with ample funds. This is normally provided by a political party. The only alternative for an independent candidacy is for Chiz to whip together networks of supporters into a nationwide movement to get him elected as president,” Ocampo said.

But Rep. Antonino believes Escudero doesn’t have the time to expand his current network.

“My father, the late Senator Gaudencio Antonino ran as independent and won, but he prepared for almost three years going all over the Philippines setting up his machinery. Escudero has no more time to do that,” Antonino said. His father was elected senator in 1961.

NPC spokesman Valenzuela Rep. Rex Gatchalian said Escuero would have had a better chance if he stayed with the NPC.

“Personally, we respect his decision to bolt the party and to run as independent. But when you run for a national position, having a party definitely helps. Compare it to a [human] body: the party is your brain, mouth, muscles, nerve center. It’s your communication and logistical support. That applies to all candidates,” Gatchalian said.

Who will get Chiz’s votes?

The next question now is, who will get Escudero’s votes?

“Chiz is a significant No. 4... Saan pupunta ang botong yan?....Kung makukuha ni Noynoy, lalayo lamang nya kay Villar. Kung makukuha ni Erap, aakyat din sya,” said Golez.

“That’s going to be a battle royale for all these votes,” Golez added.

Based on a privately-commissioned SWS survey conducted September 5-6, 2009 in vote-rich areas of Luzon, voter preferences for Aquino increased when Escudero's name was not included in the pre-selected list of names given to 1,200 respondents. (Read: 50% prefer Noynoy in vote-rich Luzon areas: SWS )

From a list of five names, which included Escudero, the preferences were: Aquino--50%; Villar--14%; Estrada--13%; Escudero--12%; Noli de Castro--7%; Don't know--2%; None--1%. Aquino's lead over Villar is 36%.

From a list of four names--Aquino, Villar, Estrada, de Castro--meaning without Escudero, Aquino's lead over Villar is 38%, or 2% higher.

De Castro--8%.
Don't know--1%

From a list of only three names--Aquino, Villar, de Castro--or without Escudero and Estrada, Aquino's lead over Villar is 42%.

De Castro--9%.
Estrada--2% (volunteered Estrada's name even if it was not on the list)
Don't know--1%



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