Sen. Manny Villar, former president Joseph Estrada and the rest of the early birds in the 2010 presidential race must have felt the slap land on their faces. They have spent millions, even billions, of pesos in the past few years shamelessly advertising their candidacies through infomercials and yet they ended up being pummeled by an upstart.
Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III only started seriously thinking about running for president about a month ago but the result of a recent Social Weather Station Survey in Luzon had him on top of the other wannabes. Noynoy got the nod of a whooping fifty percent of more than a thousand respondents. Villar at second managed only 14 percent.
It would be interesting to find out the reaction to this development of people obsessed with putting Noynoy down. The past days, scurrilous attacks on Aquino have surfaced, like those insinuating he is gay and chiding his hairstyle to those making wrong claims about his record as legislator. As Manny Pacquiao would say, “Now you know.”
Reminds me of a phrase used to describe former world heavyweight boxing champion Evander Holyfield. The survey result proved Noynoy is the “real deal.” His percentage rating may dip if the other provinces in Luzon and the Visayas and Mindanao are included in the survey. Still, it would be difficult to dislodge Noynoy from his perch.
Villar, Erap and even Malacañang spokespersons are valiantly trying to downplay the survey results, saying the presidential elections are still months away. The hope is that once Noynoy is exposed to the muckraking that characterizes our electoral process, his popularity would plunge enough for those with better political machinery to prevail.
But that will happen only if Noynoy is not the “real deal” and his reformist army of supporters falters, like what happened to actor Fernando Poe Jr. in the 2004 elections and Miriam Defensor-Santiago in the 1992 elections. Both lost against administration candidates, Poe to Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Santiago to Fidel V. Ramos.
If Noynoy is the “real deal,” he can’t be “unmasked.” No amount of character assassination, like what the anti-Noynoys have been doing the past weeks, can put a dent on his charisma and character. On the contrary, his leading position would be enhanced if his handlers start pouncing on his advantages. The Noynoy campaign has barely started.
While Noynoy’s critics have wisely downplayed his unsullied record as public servant, they wrongly focused on his supposed failure to get out of the shadows of his parents (“Magpakalalaki ka,” they said) and his alleged lackluster record as a legislator. But Noynoy is no FPJ. He is an economics graduate and his ability is no laughing matter.
When the real Noynoy comes out, I am sure even his worst critics would be surprised. And what if his handlers start airing political ads extolling Noynoy’s virtues? Even now, his critics have largely been ineffective, their lies exposed and their pettiness surfacing. Once he starts campaigning, his status as frontrunner would be cemented.
Also, this is a battle between Good and Evil, between reformist and trapo politics. The army of reform is just being formed and yet many volunteers have already been attracted to it. If Team Noynoy can set up a decent organizational structure for those recruited into this army nationwide, then protecting the votes wouldn’t be that difficult
(This came out in my September 16, 2009 Candid Thoughts column in Sun.Star Cebu)