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Campaign notes


THE OFFICIAL campaign period is yet to start but already incumbents, wannabes, has-beens, and never-bes are just about everywhere and anywhere inflicting themselves upon the hapless electorate.

Time anew to take out of the old baul this piece of 2006 vintage with some updated refurbishing.

You have no money? Dream on running, even winning. It won’t cost you a thing. But never wake from that dream and live the nightmare of political realities here.

Even as a candidate, you have already been claimed by the voters to be their personal one-way ATM: no deposit required but ready to dispense cash anytime of the day or night for their power and water bills, cost of hospitalization, expenses for weddings, baptisms and funerals, even birthday parties and fiestas, tuition for their kids, even milk for their infants.

I remember the dearly lamented undefeated mayor of Apalit Tirso Lacanilao who, in one campaign sortie, was asked by a constituent for money to pay for the hospital bills of his wife.

Tirso was already fishing out P500 bills from his wallet when he happened to ask what caused the wife’s hospitalization.

“Menganac ya pu,” came the reply.

“Putanaydamo,” raged Tirso.

“Anyang magpacanyaman cang gagawan me ing anac mu e mu na cu man cayabe. Oba’t cacu mu papabayad ing cayang pamanganac?” Classic Tirso.

You have money? Use it wisely.

Find some free lessons in this costly experience of a board member who ambitioned for a House seat in the 2004 polls.

Well beyond a year to the elections, BM was already crowing that P30,000 was doled out daily to his needy constituents even before the cock crowed in the morning. Into the campaign period, BM upped the ante to P50,000 per day. Still, he ended up in the kangkungan against one whose win earned him the title “Condoctor.”

His 2004 experience unlearned, BM did the same route in 2007, upping his daily doles to P70,000, only to be picked out of the pansitan against one Cong Dong.

A dilemma: Identified as a generous giver in elections past, BM stands to lose a lot of the ground he covered in 2004 and 2007 if he tightens even just a bit his publicly-perceivedas-enormous campaign chest. Dati kang nagbibigay ng tig-500, bigla kang magbibigay ng tig-100, magiging masama ka pa sa iyong binigyan.

The flash of wealth is more a liability than an asset. Still remember Don Pepito Mercado? Throwing money like there’s no tomorrow, the Don soared in the people’s imagination as a mighty, invincible eagle in 1994 only to be reduced to a pitiful pipit in the 1995 gubernatorial polls. Principally because he just stopped being outlandishly generous at the time it counted most – in the middle of the campaign period.

Being official candidate of a party, even of the party in power is no sure-fire guarantee to victory.

In 1992, Marino “Boking” Morales did the unprecedented: He was the official candidate of the two dominant parties at war for the presidency. President Cory Aquino and candidate Fidel V. Ramos of Lakas-NUCD graced Boking’s proclamation rally. At Boking’s miting de avance, it was candidate Ramon V. Mitra that anointed him as the main man in Mabalacat of the LDP.

Dr. Catalino Domingo of the NPC drubbed Boking mightily. Thereafter, Boking though has done more unprecedented things. Like sitting as mayor beyond double the term limit, ultimately unseated only in 2017 – ruling all of 22 years. And now seeking a comeback via the vice-mayorship.

Barangay chairmen are prized – and highly-priced – acquisitions in elections. But like the party, they are no foolproof certainty to winning.

In 2004, Andrea Dizon-Domingo thrice paraded before the members of media 28 of the 33 barangay chairmen of the City of San Fernando as her committed campaigners.

She ended third placer to eventual winner Oscar S. Rodriguez who had no barangay chairman other than Do Santos of San Agustin in his corner.

At the filing of her certificate of candidacy for city mayor, Dolores village chief Vilma Caluag was accompanied by a number of the 24 barangay chairmen purportedly already in her pocket. Pray that lightning won’t strike twice with women contesting the mayorship of the capital city.

From organization, let’s shift to tactics.

The early bird does not always get the worm. Sometimes, because of his overeagerness – read: gagad – he gets to be shot first.

Think Pampanga First District in 1998 here. The first pretender to the throne being vacated by Cong Tarzan Lazatin was businessman Beko Panlilio. Ah, how the barangay captains swarmed around him from late 1996, only to lose them to “Cong Rey” Guiao, whose own campaign sputtered when Atty. Ed Pamintuan left the Angeles City hall for the district. Of course, it was EdPam’s vice, Blueboy Nepomuceno who went on to win.

The early bird gets to be fed first to the hungry mob. Heed the Kapampangan adage here: Tauling kabit, manu. Last comes first.

Opinion polls are another matter to take real care of. Believe in published surveys at your own peril. There I go again.

In 2007, an alleged survey allegedly commissioned by the provincial government alleged that then-3rd District Rep. Rey Aquino in his comeback bid for the San Fernando mayorship led the incumbent Mayor Oscar Rodriguez 60-40.

So, what’s new here? Oca never won in any published survey since he entered politics at that point. Conversely, he had won all but one – 1992 – electoral contests he joined: 1987, 1995, 1998, 2001congressional races, and the 2004 mayorship.

And in 2007, Oca drubbed Rey to the tune of over 16,000-vote margin. Same margin of error placed in that alleged survey most certainly.

It was only in 2016 that the surveys proved correct – the incumbent Cong Oca losing to the man he beat in the same contest in 2013, his inaanak Dong Gonzales.

Like Oca, another one who never won in any survey but won all elections he entered is Cris Garbo of Mabalacat – as councilor twice, board member three times and vice mayor once. And board member again in 2007, 2010 and 2013.

So, Garbo lost – to Boking Morales as projected by the surveys in 2016. So, who’s the mayor of Mabalacat now?

Surveys are meant to serve as campaign guideposts. Their efficacy for propaganda purposes – to gain some bandwagon effect – have long been lost because of surfeit and the incredibility of results.

Have you read of any published local survey citing its margin of error? If you have, did they tell you how they arrived at it?

End of lesson for now. Keep on running, go on dreaming.


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