WHAT WENT WRONG WITH ROCO'S BID

MANILA,  May 22, 2004
(MANILA TIMES)
By Patricia Esteves, Reporter  -  A sense of calm pervades the face of the Alyansa ng Pag-asa’s standard-bearer Raul Roco now.

Roco, who has conceded to President Arroyo, said whatever lessons he learned from the election he would chalk up to experience. The important thing was to look ahead. “I don’t want to look back at things. That’s over. I don’t want to dwell in the past,” Roco told The Manila Times.

Roco’s younger brother, Ding, said the 62-year-old former education secretary was not the type who mopes around. This outlook was probably one of the reasons he conceded. By all indications, Roco wants to move on. “He has shown that he can put the campaign behind. He’s now considered a statesman who the people can listen to, a good resource for our country,” Ding said.

Regrets? Roco claims there are too few to mention, but Ding said his brother intimated that in this campaign he did so many things he never did when he ran for president in 1998, and for congressman and senator. Roco’s supporters were dis­mayed when he conceded because they felt he was that close to the presidency.

From August 2002 to November 2003 he consistently topped the surveys, leading Mrs. Arroyo, who at that time was saddled by low approval ratings. Roco’s campaign manager and political strategist, Jaime Galvez-Tan, said Roco got the highest score of 37 percent in the ratings, higher than what President Arroyo gained in the surveys before the election.

But in December Roco slid into number-three position and had not advanced since. When he left for Houston, Texas, in the middle of April to seek medical treatment for the recurrence of his prostate cancer, he dropped to fourth, behind the televangelist Eddie Villanueva. When he returned, the surge of sympathy votes Roco’s camp was expecting did not happen.

So what went wrong? Galvez-Tan pointed to the lack of machinery and adequate funding. Then there was Roco’s ailment, coupled with the lack of media handlers to cushion him from the negative publicity of his ailment. Ding pointed to a combination of reasons. “Not enough money. We didn’t have the machinery and the manpower. It all comes down to resources,” he said.

Benito Lim, a political analyst, said Roco didn’t have the momentum, because he lacked the machinery, money and a friendly media outlet. The issue over Roco’s prostate cancer, Lim said, was the last straw. He said the formula for success in the election has always been adequate resources.

“A candidate will need a lot of money. Sure, Roco might have funds, but it wasn’t enough, so you can’t get enough people. A good machinery means you must have a complete lineup of local candidates, from congressman, vice governor to mayor. But Roco lacked a complete list of local candidates, because he didn’t have machinery,” Lim said.

Up against the President’s well-oiled machinery and the mass-based appeal and popularity of the actor Fernando Poe Jr., Roco’s early lead shriveled.

Galvez-Tan acknowledged that Roco’s camp became overconfident that Roco could not be moved from the number-one position in the surveys. When Roco fell to third, his camp didn’t have contingency measures to help him regain the lead.

“There was a certain lead but we became complacent. If you noticed, in December and January, Roco lost the lead,” Galvez-Tan said.

He said the camp could have done something had Roco not left for the US in December. It could have assessed what it was up against, and maybe it could have turned the tide.

Ding Roco said the camp could have also gotten leaders who could have helped inspire people with their thoughts and beliefs. “Probably we depended on the same people in politics,” Ding said.

Galvez-Tan said: “We had a good idea of what we would be doing, but we fell short. There should have been a continuous buildup during that time. We know the strength of the Gloria and FPJ machineries, but we didn’t think we could be overtaken. We should have anticipated that and responded accordingly.”

He added that the camp wanted to raise the level of the campaign to a higher level. They didn’t accept donations, which it knew came from tainted sources. It also didn’t accept candidates who are questionable.

Roco’s running mate, Hermie Aquino, agreed with Galvez-Tan in this aspect. “We got many offers but we didn’t want questionable deals. We never wanted contributions from dubious sources, because we wanted to be different, to change the system and what’s wrong with that?” Aquino said.

Galvez-Tan said Alyansa should have seized the opportunity to raise more funds for Roco’s campaign when he was still leading in the polls.

“We should have taken advantage of the 15 months that he was leading in the Social Weather Stations and other polls to get funds. By December the resources we were expecting did not come. Sure, contributions arrived, but the truth is, when you have a field of five, and you’re number three, the contributors are attracted to the number one or two,” Galvez-Tan said.

Lim noted that although Roco led early in the surveys, he could not attract financiers. He also mentioned Roco’s failure to present an alternative government to the people especially at a time when Mrs. Arroyo announced that she was not running in December 2002 before she c hanged her mind in October 2003.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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