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‘Mar didn’t quite catch yellow fever’

By Philip Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:06:00 05/13/2010

Filed Under: Inquirer Politics, Eleksyon 2010, Elections

MANILA, Philippines?How did the Binay blitzkrieg come about?

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay?s surge in Monday?s vice presidential election was a result of solid ground work in getting sister cities and municipalities to rally to his cause, according to analysts and insiders in the Liberal Party of his nearest rival, Sen. Manuel ?Mar? Roxas II.

Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms, told a news forum Wednesday that Roxas, running mate of presidential front-runner Sen. Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III, also became ?complacent? because of his early lead in the popularity surveys.

On the other hand, Binay, former President Joseph ?Erap? Estrada?s running mate, portrayed himself as a confidante of Aquino?s mother, the revered late President Corazon Aquino.

?He had the best of both worlds. He was able to get votes from both the constituencies of Erap and Noynoy,? Casiple said.

Roxas in blue

He said that while Binay tried to endear himself to Aquino supporters with ads showing him with the late President and with his campaign tag ?Noy-Bi,? Roxas did not fully embrace and exploit the ?yellow fever.?

?He kept on wearing his blue shirt,? he said, referring to the color Roxas adopted since his successful run in the Senate as ?Mr. Palengke? in 2004. Roxas also got the open support of Aquino?s sisters late in the campaign.

Former Social Welfare Secretary Corazon ?Dinky? Soliman, one of the Liberal Party stalwarts, agreed that the sisterhood pacts with cities and local government units who became recipients of aid from the country?s premier city were a big factor in Binay?s rise.

She admitted that the Aquino-Roxas camp was caught by surprise by the Makati mayor?s surge in the last leg of the campaign. ?We?re still trying to analyze where this is coming from,? she added.

Escudero endorsement

Casiple said that the Roxas campaign should have also acted quickly after Sen. Francis ?Chiz? Escudero endorsed a ?Noy-Bi? tandem.

Casiple said that in January, Binay already was insisting on his close ties with the Aquinos and that Roxas was aware of this.

He said that the complacent Roxas only became aggressive with his political ads after Binay?s surge began to show in April.

?But it was already too late. The accusations that Binay had a girlfriend did not gel. If before (Roxas) campaigned on his own and it was ?Mar and Noynoy,? his efforts to show a ?Noy-Mar? tandem was just a reaction to ?Noy-Bi,?? he said.

Casiple said that the Roxas camp could still have changed the situation by reacting aggressively to the burgeoning Binay poll numbers.

?He could have endeared himself more clearly with the Cory crowd but the ads with Noynoy and his sisters came out only after Noy-Bi,? he said.

The Korina factor

Casiple said that Roxas was also not able to capitalize on the drawing power of his wife, broadcaster Korina Sanchez, particularly on the poor.

?She was supposed to be the counterweight to Mar?s elite background but they did not capitalize on that. Whenever I saw her, she was in good-looking dresses. Her portrayal was not that of the masses,? Casiple said.

However, Soliman said that Sanchez helped in Roxas? campaign.

?She went out and does press fleshing on her own. I know that because I was handling some of the sortie schedules. She really had a positive impact,? she added.

Sporting a blue ?I Love Mar? T-shirt, Sanchez was spotted Tuesday night taking a cigarette break just outside Balay Aquino-Roxas, the LP headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City, where she and Roxas were closely monitoring the tight vice presidential race.

Asked if her husband remained confident of winning, Sanchez replied: ?Confident is not the word.?

Has Mar grown nervous? Sanchez, finishing her smoke, just laughed as she headed back to the Balay and declined to take further questions. With reports from DJ Yap and Emil Sarmiento

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