IT appears that the May 2022 election is shaping up to be a runaway campaign for a tandem that came into being in a very delayed manner and was hampered by political somersaults that did not allow the tandem to move. Interestingly, the individuals in the tandem are getting majoritarian support and huge crowds in every caravan and meetups that practically sealed the deal for the tandem. The pre-campaign has clearly defined the metes and bounds. And we hope to see consistency, continuity and creativity, the core elements of political campaigns when we hit February 2022, the start of the campaign period.
On their own, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (BBM) and Sara Duterte-Carpio (SDC) are the heirs apparent of their strong-willed fathers. Of differing generations, BBM and SDC bring into their tandem various persuasions from gender to age to educational attainment and professional experience. Both served the local governments. Marcos brings into the equation national exposure as senator/policymaker. But more than these, being children of strong leaders give them a unique lens on history and governance, which hopefully can be used as they put energy into a platform that reflects the persuasions of their fathers, the continuity of what worked and the disruption to create their own transformation ripples going through the six years of their term.
The runaway pertains to the preference ratings of both, crossing the 50 percent barrier. If the trajectory continues, both will be the first post-EDSA elected leaders to attain a majority share of the votes. The trajectory of SDC could be higher than that of Marcos because it is the embodiment of Filipinos who are thankful for the work of PRRD. They will register their gratitude via the ballot box thankful to a leader who stoked the fires and questioned institutions to get Filipinos on an even platform to rise above how the Church, oligarchs and media treated them for decades and generations. It took a Duterte to wake Filipinos up from their stupor and cheer a hillbilly who dared what has controlled the Filipinos decades back.
The tandem is a runaway because there is no one strong media that can brainwash everyone into a narrative that supports their own candidates. It is a runaway because of people actually going out and showing up in caravans and meetings. ABS-CBN is the biggest political party in town, post-EDSA. Falling on their graces, national candidates get the traction they need to propel to victory. The May 2022 election cycle will be the first without ABS-CBN influencing voters. Today, social media is king, and citizens are pushing candidates to others online, becoming now the influencer rather than mainstream media.
From the five years and six months of the Duterte-Robredo term, we learned and now value the importance of having a president and a vice president that can work together, collaborate with each other and push a shared national agenda. Giving the vice president a cabinet position is like ensuring that hands on training and knowledge sharing becomes an assurance of continuity, of a future that is not disruptive and destructive; of a partner who does not go to international forums to shoot one’s nation before the altar of interlopers and power players just so the individual is presented as the future perfect of leadership.
Continuity is very important if we are to achieve income status. Continuity refers to both the soft and hard of nation-building. Health and education are now universal. Poverty alleviation is focusing on Mindanao. Fiscal, tax and monetary policies are all intertwined with our economy which is predominantly MSMEs and the ten or so big families who control our growth directions. One concern that the Marcos-Duterte tandem will have to confront is the cost of electricity. We cannot reboot if we remain to be the country with the most expensive electricity rates in Asia. Continuity resides in #Ambisyon 2040 and the recently launched #Pagtanaw 2050 which is a product of foresight planning innovation of the Philippines.
#Pagtanaw 2050 is the first DoST-funded inter-disciplined and trans-disciplinal project on Philippines-focused science, technology and innovation (STI) Foresight and Strategic Plan, which suggests significant drivers of change and provides insights and reflections on plausible STI development paths that will impact on the aspirations of the Filipino people. The main goal is “to chart a strategic path of anticipating the factors that will influence the development of the Philippines’ scientific capital in the years leading up to 2050.”
Continuity is also about enhancing the improved frontline services as well as the Build, Build, Build program that has to be sustained for the country to be competitive. Reforms will have to be pursued in terms of spectrum as well as telcos so that Filipinos benefit from their assets as well as implement the lessons from the pandemic, whether in terms of economics, education, health and governance.
Transition work is also critical going into the campaign period. A track should be working behind the campaign team so that the cabinet is formed and vetted to ensure that the winning team will have a sense of team in play as it ends up with the formal inauguration. Part of transition work is not filling up positions and giving the next administration a free hand to do so. Only PFVR did that in the transition. It is important to get the winner’s team in place so that the platform can readily be rolled out on Day 1.
The environment today is far different from PFVR to PRRD. Today, the pre-campaign is already pointing towards a certain end that only a crisis worse than what was thrown by PRRD at candidate BBM can derail it. The 90-day campaign period will be fast and it will be a battle of discipline to stick to the message. We are entering the phase where platforms will take center stage and where candidates will lay out their plans on how best to respond to the challenges of the times. In the end, candidates will be asked, why are you running for public office and why should voters vote for you? Clearly, strong takeaways are vital so voters remember you.