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(BINAY BRAND?) SURVEY'S BIGGEST WINNER, NANCY BINAY / COMMENTARY: UNDERSTANDNIG SENATORIAL PREFERENCES
 


[Nancy Binay PHOTO BY JIM GUIAO PUNZALAN]

MANILA, FEBRUARY 11, 2013 (INQUIRER) By Christian V. Esguerra - The biggest winner in the latest Pulse Asia survey arguably was the daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Riding primarily on the popularity of her high-profile father, Nancy Binay jumped to fourth to ninth places, trailing only incumbent Senators Loren Legarda, Francis Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano. She was 12th in the Social Weather Stations survey last January.

The 39-year-old candidate on Saturday acknowledged what she called the “Binay factor” for her sudden surge. But learning from her father, a veteran politician, she said she remained wary about complacency and the possibility of peaking early.

“Actually, I’ll be working harder now that I’m No. 4,” she told the Inquirer.

It’s a lesson she learned during her father’s successful vice presidential run in 2010. Trailing front-runner Mar Roxas for most of the campaign, the elder Binay made a strong surge toward the end to snatch the victory.

No complacency

“The moral of the story is never be complacent,” the daughter said.

Binay is on unfamiliar territory, having spent the past several years accompanying her father in his own campaign. “Usually I was just in the sidelines, but now I’m up there on stage, campaigning for myself,” she said.

Binay placed high in recent surveys despite the “baggage” of being her father’s daughter.

The Binays have been accused of building a political dynasty in Makati City, a highly urbanized city that has never had a mayor other than a Binay since Edsa People Power I. The purported dynasty now appears to be moving toward the national stage, with no less than the patriarch occupying the second-highest position in the country. And his daughter is now running for senator.

Binay brand

But Nancy Binay rejected the idea of a “Binay political dynasty.”

“I prefer to call it the Binay brand of public service,” she said. “At the end of the day, the family members occupying positions in government went through a clean and honest election. It’s not that we were appointed or that voters were coerced.”

Binay said her improvement in the Pulse Asia survey was partly the result of her TV ad. But she said he preferred to cover more ground by moving around the country, another lesson she gained from her father.

“He really wants me to reach as many people as possible at the grassroots, the traditional face-to-face, handshake approach. It stems from his being a mayor for a long time,” she said.

And thanks to the color of her skin, she said people had no problem associating her with her father.

“The reception has been very warm so far. It helps that we have the same color. So when they see me and I introduce myself as the daughter of the Vice President, their aura lightens up,” she said.

INQUIRER COMMENTARY

Understanding Senatorial Preferences

PUBLIC LIVES - By Randy David - Not a few have asked how we can make sense of the senatorial preferences expressed in recent surveys leading up to the 2013 elections.

What seems to be the basis of these preferences? Is it all about “name recall”? How much value is attached to political programs and visions?

My usual answer is that I am as baffled as they are about the choices that our people make. These preferences don’t seem to be anchored on any serious understanding of what a senator’s functions are, or on a thoughtful examination of the candidates’ qualifications and record, and, least of all, on any idea of the kind of legislative leadership the country needs at this time.

I have before me the results of the most recent Pulse Asia survey released last Feb. 8, with four months left before Election Day.

The official campaign period has not begun, and candidates have yet to explain their programs in public forums, but already, respondents are filling up, on average, eight of the available 12 senatorial slots.

“Virtually all of the probable winners,” the survey notes, “are either former or current members of Congress.”


[PHOTO AND EXCERPT TEXT FROM THE INQUIRER NOVEMBER 2012 REPORTED BY JOCELYN YU: VP Binay said he didn’t believe in prohibiting dynasties especially if a candidate coming from a family perceived to be a dynasty was qualified to run and the people wanted him elected. “The real spirit of democracy is the will of the people — vox populi,” stated Binay, whose daughter, Nancy has filed a candidacy for a Senate seat under the United Nationalist Alliance. He also added that proposals against dynasties were being pushed by people “who are perennial losers” in the elections.]

The odd person in the winning circle of 12 is Nancy Binay, who is ranked No. 4, just below the sure winners—Loren Legarda, Chiz Escudero, and Alan Peter Cayetano.

Binay has not previously run for, or occupied, any public office. Her political experience is limited to her having served as personal assistant to her father, current Vice President Jejomar Binay.

She is not known to have taken any stand on any national issue that is likely to be debated in the halls of the Senate. Yet she enjoys an awareness rating of 88 percent that is significantly higher than that of former Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr.

With an awareness rating of only 79, Jun, the son and namesake of the popular president who died in a tragic plane crash, is currently ranked at No. 17.

It is obvious that Binay’s astounding feat in preelection surveys draws solely from the magic of her father’s name. In this, she’s not alone.

One could say the same thing for Juan Ponce Enrile Jr., JV Ejercito Estrada, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, and Edgardo “Sonny” Angara. Perhaps it is not so much that voters mistake them for their fathers, as they positively associate them with the images of their famous namesakes.


[CIRCA 1950: THE LATE FORMER PRESIDENT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, SR.]

But why does name recall work for them and not for Magsaysay who was a senator until three years ago?

I think there is a simple answer: the late President Magsaysay lived in the 1950s, and despite his abundant presence in children’s textbooks and peso bills, he is a remote figure to the young generation of Filipino voters. For all its saliency, the name “Magsaysay” is linked with the past.

On the other hand, Benigno “Bam” Aquino, the namesake and look-alike of the martyred Sen. Ninoy Aquino, might have a better chance of improving his survey ranking as the elections draw near. He is now at No. 13, three rungs above the 16th place that he occupied in the December Pulse Asia survey.

One might hold up the same hope for Grace Poe, whose more deliberate pairing with her iconic father, Fernando Poe Jr., in recent media adverts has pulled her from No. 17 to No. 14. Grace has been able to combine this name advantage with her effective projection of herself as a young sweet woman of serene intelligence.

Name recall is clearly important but, by itself it does not guarantee “winnability.” Jamby Madrigal, who conducted a maverick campaign for the presidency in 2010 and was a senator until six years ago, has an awareness rating of 90 percent.

She was at No. 13 in the December 2012 survey, and has slid down to No. 16 in the January 2013 survey. Former Sen. Dick Gordon also ran for president in 2010 and has maintained a high public profile as head of the Philippine National Red Cross. He enjoys an awareness rating of 88, but remains at No. 15, still outside the winning circle. Former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, an old hand in Philippine politics, having served in various capacities in successive administrations, has an awareness rating of 82 percent but languishes in the surveys at No. 19.

Voters have short memories. The younger they are, the more impressionable they tend to be. Their impressions, mostly based on sound bites and fleeting glimpses, do not last long either. Three years out of the limelight, a politician who fails to etch a strong presence in the public memory is as good as forgotten. But those who manage to leave a deep mark on the people’s consciousness are rewarded by a lingering loyalty. Think of politicians like Legarda, Escudero, Cayetano, Trillanes and Honasan. The mere mention of their names conjures, rightly or wrongly, images of vitality, eloquence, audacity, etc.

One would have thought by this same token, that the young activist social democrat Risa Hontiveros, who figured prominently in the anti-Arroyo rallies and almost made it to the Senate in 2010, would by now be among the top senatorial choices for 2013. It is a puzzle that she is not. She possesses all the qualities that young people seem to admire in their leaders—brightness, courage, compassion for the downtrodden and articulateness. What seems to spell the difference is that in the last three years she was not in the public eye. It is time now to remind the public that this is the same bright and brave woman they almost made senator in 2010.

Today’s voters are mostly young, lower middle class, and with the benefit of no more than a high school education. What the surveys suggest is that they are not interested in the candidates’ party affiliations, or what they stand for, or whether they think they can meaningfully contribute to the discussion of issues at the Senate. They are dazzled by form rather than by substance, a fact that makes television all the more the true battleground of national elections.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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