Numbers crunching time for Leni Robredo

Business executives call it “numbers crunching”.

It’s a time for them to review their balance sheets and make decisions about next courses of action. In business, it’s always about making profits.

Politicians also do numbers crunching – scrutinizing poll surveys and analyzing what is going well and what is not. For politicians with intentions on running in the May 9, 2022 elections, the last six months are likely to have been spent doing just that — crunching numbers. There is a science in poll surveys that cannot be taken lightly, and these periodic samplings of the voters’ pulse have become a reliable gauge to guide campaign strategies. The poll surveys can also be a guide on whether to run or not.

This is now the difficult task for Vice President Leni Robredo.

Her numbers have been consistently low for the last five years. It’s a reason for worry because her images have been literally plastered all over mainstream media, and so much airtime have been alloted for interviews for the mileage every politician covets. That has been reinforced by a social media program on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Such exposure is more than enough to put Robredo among the frontrunners at this time.

It’s clear her marketing strategy and tactics have nothing to show as results. It is becoming clear those relentless efforts at winning the hearts and minds of Filipino voters have failed. Her last poll survey rating of 6% in distant sixth place is discouraging.

In an interview with Christian Esguerra on ANC’s “After the Fact” on Tuesday night, Ms. Robredo had to admit this is what is making it hard for her to decide on whether to run or not. She cannot hope to accomplish a repeat performance of her 2016 vice presidential bid where she started off at 1% one year before the elections. At the time, she was unknown, and only her brand as the widow of the late Jesse Robredo gave her the slightest name recognition.

The political landscape is vastly different, Ms. Robredo confessed.

In 2016, she was running only for Vice President. She belonged to an administration party that controlled vast resources, not to mention the overflowing campaign kitty raised from the Disbursement Acceleration Program with the help of Janet Lim Napoles. The political machinery down to the barangay level was colossal. And there was the magic carpet she was made to ride by Andy Bautista to propel her past Bongbong Marcos — Smartmatic.

Today, the Liberal Party is in shambles. Even the incumbent Senators eligible to run again are almost certain to lose in next year’s elections. Janet Lim Napoles is now in prison. And the death of its leader, former President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, last month didn’t lift the image of the dilawan political brand as many followers had hoped. Its last standard bearer, Mar Roxas, has hung up his gloves. He is now busy playing with his kids, obviously trying to overcome depression. Roxas is dejected about being rejected thrice

And the bottomline, now virtually alone to face the battle, Ms. Robredo doesn’t have the money to mount a nationwide campaign. There is nothing in the horizon that can serve as a beacon of hope.

These are factors that are swirling in Ms. Robredo’s mind now as we approach the period for filing of certificates of candidacy on October 1-8. That’s only two and a half months away. If this were a game of chess, Ms. Robredo has only a minute left on her clock with a most disadvantageous position.

Defeat is certain if she runs; her pride would be wounded severely if she backs out of the game.

My unsolicited advice is that she should withdraw from the race right away. It would be unfair for the opposition to be kept waiting. Only a miracle can change the equation. Maybe she is still hopeful President Duterte will be forced out of office, or even die, to pave the way for succession.

But that is not going to change the outcome at the polls, because the Fiilipino people will get angrier if her wish is granted. It will be a political tsunami that will sweep her in defeat in the unlikely event that happens.

About Manuel "Boy" Mejorada
Manuel "Boy" Mejorada is a journalist and social media activist. A former Iloilo provincial administrator, he is now waging a crusade against corruption and narco-politics.

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