TRIBUNE COMMENTARY: GMA GOING THE WAY OF DM

MANILA, April 8, 2004
 
(TRIBUNE)
RUDY ROMERO - GMA has not spurted ahead of FPJ despite the fact that she has been throwing money at politicians — particularly the local officials — and government workers ostensibly in aid of governance but really in support of her candidacy.

The way the campaign of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is going, I am reminded of the reelection campaign of her late father, who was up for reelection in November 1965. I have good memories of Diosdado Macapagal’s campaign because, after having served as a senator, my late father was persuaded to run for Congressman from our province under DM’s Liberal Party.

In the last few months, GMA has expended public funds, in a manner suggestive of money running out of style, on things that clearly partake politically motivated spending. Agricultural support money, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and Pagcor funds, money for Metro Manila street maintenance, funds for special education projects — these and similar spending programs have not been spared by GMA in her headlong, pull-out-all-the-stops drive to win the May elections and thereby legitimize her stay in Malacañang.

GMA’s propaganda machine has been interpreting the results of the two most recent SWS surveys — a less than 1 percent FPJ margin over GMA in the earlier survey and a 2.8 percent margin in the later one — by saying despite his acknowledged popularity, FPJ has been able to muster only small margins of numerical superiority over GMA. If FPJ were really as popular as he has been claimed to be, why hasn’t he been scoring more heavily over GMA, the Malacañang propagandists have been asking in taunting fashion.

That is the wrong interpretation to place on the thus-far modest FPJ surveys margins over GMA. The right way to interpret the margins is to point out that GMA has not spurted ahead of FPJ despite the fact that she has been throwing money at politicians — particularly the local officials — and government workers ostensibly in aid of governance but really in support of her candidacy.

With only 34 days left to May 10, GMA is stuck in the vicinity of 30 percent of the electorate as represented by survey respondents. Despite all her fiscal largesse, the little lady is not moving up. Her electoral support appears to have peaked.

By contrast, FPJ, like a Mercedes-Benz diesel car, is becoming warmer by the day and is getting more and more into the spirit and rhythm of the campaign. With every day that passes, the kinks in the KNP are being ironed out and the Koalisyon is increasingly primed for close combat with GMA’s K-4 organization. Time is on FPJ’s side: He has 34 more days to make inroads into areas of GMA strength.

I spoke earlier of being reminded about the 1965 campaign of the reelectionist Diosdado Macapagal. Like his daughter 39 years later, DM pulled out all the fiscal stops in his bid to be the first President to be reelected. Like today, all kinds of money were thrown by Malacañang at the members of Congress, the local government officials and government workers. I know this to be true because, as stated at the outset, my father, being a partymate of the President’s, was one of the beneficiaries of Malacañang’s fiscal openhandedness during the campaign.

But it all went for naught. Sensing that DM was steadily losing ground to the charming challenger from Batac, Ilocos Norte, and tired of four years of his lackluster governance, the electorate chose to vote Diosdado Macapagal out of office. With all the facilities and resources of the government at his disposal, an incumbent Chief Executive should not lose an election, but DM managed to do so. The voters had enough of the nation’s eighth President. They wanted to try out the other guy.

Yes, 39 years later, I see it happening all over again. Here we have a controversial and divisive Chief Executive dispensing enormous amounts of government money to win over the nation’s politicians to her electoral cause but steadily losing ground to the challenger.

On Nov. 6, 1965, the voters of this country wanted to see what Ferdinand Marcos could do, so they voted out Diosdado Macapagal.

Come May 10, the nation’s electorate will want to give Fernando Poe Jr. a try, so they’ll vote out Diosdado Macapagal’s daughter.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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