Otso Diretso banks on late groundswell of support
Don’t write off Otso Diretso just yet.
Despite their dismal showing in recent surveys, candidates from the Otso Diretso coalition are banking on a “come-from-behind victory” buoyed by the “last-minute discernment of voters,” Sen. Francis Pangilinan, the group’s campaign manager, said on Thursday.
“We will not stop campaigning, we will not stop convincing and wooing voters until the last day. A surprise come-from-behind victory is still a possibility,” said Pangilinan, who is also president of the opposition Liberal Party.
Most voters during national elections are initially more concerned with candidates at the local level “because they identify more with local officials,” the senator said at the Kapihan sa Senado forum.
“It is only in the last two weeks that [voters] think about who to vote for at the national level. The discernment process for the national candidates is usually at the last minute,” he said, adding that this explains why only the more familiar names dominate poll surveys.
Only eight candidates
Otso Diretso is fielding only eight candidates. They are reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, civic leader Samira Gutoc, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, former Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal and Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano.
Only Aquino made it to the top 12 in Pulse Asia’s latest survey.
The candidates’ poor showing in surveys has only goaded the opposition to intensify its campaign and mobilize its machinery in the final stretch of the campaign, Pangilinan said.
Otso Diretso’s “miting de avance” has been set for May 8.
Pangilinan said a lot could happen in two weeks, such as the last-minute snowballing of support for candidates who used to lag behind.
Otso Diretso candidates will be tweaking their strategies, but Pangilinan said he’d rather keep their new tactics secret for now.
The party has been tapping volunteers and launched a text blast campaign to inform voters of the importance of voting for opposition candidates to keep the independence of the Senate, often described as the last bastion of democracy.
Former President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Leni Robredo, whose approval rating has been rising, will continue helping the opposition slate, Pangilinan said.
Robredo has been campaigning for Otso Diretso in different parts of the country, while Aquino has been calling up local officials with whom he has built up a lot of goodwill to pitch for their candidates, the senator said.
Pangilinan also acknowledged how the opposition’s campaign has been affected by the move of Liberal Party’s previous allies to jump ship and join the administration party.
He understands their decision, he said, adding that some of them have promised to help Otso Diretso quietly.
Pangilinan also denied there was internal bickering among their candidates.
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