Manolo Quezon is #TheExplainer Newsletter — The big Bonanza
Two topics for today’s newsletter.
First: My column on the continuing communications dysfunction in the Robredo campaign, which is blessed by very active, creative, and dedicated volunteers; but their efforts are retail politics (person-to-person) which is an adjunct to the bigger, wholesale, aspect of the campaign, which means messaging primarily through commercials.
A note on appearances being deceiving: from a post by Ding Velasco, top pic sent by Marcos’ news managers to media purportedly showing an overflow crowd attending his rally. But photo below taken by an independent drone claims to show the real scale of attendance.
The basic point is Marcos sezied the initiative by claiming for himself the role of change and hope candidate; this means what Robredo stands for is not yet clear, one or two months into the pre-campaign season.
Second: the big bonanza for big business in the process of being legislated by Congress. I have been tracking this story for years.
This week’s The Long View
THE LONG VIEW
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:05 AM December 15, 2021
When Christopher Go finally, formally, bowed out of the presidential race, what was up for grabs? If the Laylo Report slides circulating online are to be believed, it’s the 9 percent of eligible voters who would have voted for him if elections had been held between Nov. 22 and 23. That’s what’s up for grabs. What’s interesting is that this number wasn’t at the expense of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., as you will see momentarily.
A brief recap is in order: Pedro Laylo Jr.’s surveys have long been considered credible, a useful counterpart to the two bluechip survey firms, Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia. His firm (established after he retired from SWS) has been commissioned in past election years by the Manila Standard and so understood by extension to reflect his usefulness to Enrique Razon Jr. (who needs the information for his own party and other purposes). What sets apart Laylo is that, generally, his sample size is twice as large as that of the two leading polling firms.
The two Laylo Report slides circulating have the following information, for a survey supposedly conducted on Nov. 22–23 with 3,000 respondents who are likely voters. National (presidency): 58 percent Marcos, 13 percent Robredo, 9 percent Go, 7 percent Moreno, 5 percent Pacquiao, 4 percent Lacson, 4 percent De Guzman. National (veep): 58 percent Duterte, 23 percent Sotto, 8 percent Pangilinan, 6 percent Ong. NCR (prexy): 61 percent Marcos, 12 percent Robredo, 13 percent Moreno, 6 percent Lacson, 4 percent Go, 3 percent Pacquiao. NCR (veep): 43 percent Duterte, 36 percent Sotto, 11 percent Ong, 7 percent Pangilinan. If the survey took place, then it can be said to reflect the outcome from candidates formally filing their candidacies and their actual status being settled with the expiration of the deadline for substitutions. One could hazard a theory that Go’s candidacy affected Marcos’ the least.
What isn’t speculation is that we have one snapshot each, courtesy of SWS and Pulse. Pulse is supposed to have finished its November polling but as of press time hadn’t released it yet; so these are the snapshots we have from the top two polling firms. Pulse Asia’s latest was Sept. 6–11. Prexy: 20 percent Duterte, 15 percent Marcos, 13 percent Moreno, 12 percent Pacquiao, 8 percent Robredo, 6 percent Lacson, 3 percent Go. Veep: 25 percent Sotto (the rest listed didn’t end up running). For its part, Stratbase ADR Institute commissioned SWS to conduct a poll from Oct. 20 to 23. Prexy: 47 percent Marcos, 18 percent Robredo, 13 percent Moreno, 9 percent Pacquiao, and 5 percent each for Lacson and Dela Rosa, with 3 percent undecided. Veep: 44 percent Sotto, 25 percent Duterte, 13 percent each for Pangilinan and Ong, 3 percent Atienza, 2 percent undecided.
Since comparing apples to apples is best, what would be safest would be to view all three surveys I’ve mentioned as starting snapshots. It’s in the surrounding activities that were meant to make the candidates gain support, that we can gauge which campaigns are on the right track. My view is that Marcos Jr. grabbed the most precious characteristics of a presidential candidate for himself: namely, being the candidate of Change and Hope. He did so, by means of his ad. All the rest: the highly-organized motorcades, the crushing prediction of an unstoppable landslide being promoted online, the explosion in anticipation of Tallano Gold and Bataan Nuclear Plant bonanzas for lucky supporters, flows from the candidate capturing the emotional and even moral high ground (Marcos Jr. has essentially been gagged, with no media appearances or extended video clips to contradict his imagery; thus, claims can be circulated without risk of the candidate disappointing the faithful).
Robredo lost the chance because her ads were weirdly angled to please perhaps those who made them and approved them, but not the voters. In a similar manner there was a ridiculous motherhood-oriented pitch that threatened to sink her campaign before it could even be launched, until wiser heads prevailed and “Let Leni Lead” moved up her numbers to make her a viable candidate. But wisdom proved temporary. Her first campaign salvo was beyond a flop. Her latest commercial is better: a friendly but firm, enumeration of her policies for labor. A perfect ad: for a senatorial candidate, since most campaign on only or at most only a few, issues to set them apart. But it is not a presidential commercial. The overarching heart and soul of her candidacy in the public mind still does not exist because it hasn’t been communicated.
Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @mlq3
Background material cited in my column:
The Big Bonanza
This is the big bonanza that makes everything worthwhile for supporting the president: the transformation of telecoms from a public utility to something else: allowing foreign ownership of telecoms, but retaining for Congress the delightful duty of approving franchises for operations to be allowed.
I’ve been following this story, literally, for years, in the context of China Telecoms and its bid to be the Third Player:
2/14/2018: Tough love from Beijing, in which continued inability to amend the Public Services Act led to continuing positioning by various firms;
7/17/2019: Mountains labored, bringing forth a mouse, in which, unable to change existing rules, China settled for a wait-and-see partnership;
All just for the saga of Uy.
Two follow-ups after the Uy matter was (temporarily, it now seems) settled:
4/14/2021: Abracadabra, in which the administration, after regaining its political footing, resumed pushing for amendments to laws to circumvent or render moot, Constitutional prohibitiions on foreign ownership;
7/28/2021: The long goodbye, in which, in his last State of the Nation Address, the President made a final pitch to amend the Foreign Investments Act, the Public Service Act, and the Retail Trade Liberalization Act.
Again the importance of this scheme, which has been pushed from the earliest days of the present administration, is that the law which states telecoms are a public utility, is being amended to declare they are not. This means the Constitutional requirements then as now, of Filipino ownership of public utilities no longer applies.
This means telecoms can now be 100% foreign-owned. But what Congress intends to do, while removing telecoms from the list of public utilities, is to retain the requirement of a congressional franchise which means telecoms as their franchises expire, have to lobby Congress for a new one. In a corrupt Congress this is a vastly lucrative requirement. But what the amendment of the law accomplishes in any case is sidestepping the previously-insurmountable problem of amending the Constitution and in that manner allows the project of allowing China Telecoms to come in, to proceed.
This would allow at the very least Dennis Uy to reduce his stake in Dito Telecoms or the Zobels to reduce their stake in Globe: it would also allow PLDT to drop its pretenses of being Filipino-owned and reduce the risk of these corporations to a predictable one arising whenever its franchise is up for renewal.
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