ON DISTANT SHORE, 3 bets shot themselves in the foot,


It was, to say the least, a very expensive way to whine.

Three presidential candidates — Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Sen. Ping Lacson, and former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales – booked a banquet room at the plush Manila Peninsula Hotel in Makati ostensibly to make an important announcement about the coming elections.

Actually, media advisories from Moreno and Lacson said five presidential candidates would be coming to include former Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella and Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

Everybody, including this writer, waited with anticipation as the advisories hinted of “unity” among the five. The pre-event news stories that appeared reflected that anticipation.

One story started with “In what could be a first in Philippine politics…”

Perhaps, the five realized they need to unite to prevent a return of the Marcoses in Malacanang and decided to withdraw in favor of maybe Vice President Leni Robredo, who is the highest ranked in surveys behind Ferdinand Marcos Jr., or maybe in favor of Moreno.

It was a dud, after all.

In the first place, there was no “unity” as only three of them appeared. Pacquiao and Abella didn’t attend, which in hindsight, was one of the best decisions they have ever made.

In the second place, Moreno, Lacson and Gonzales merely announced they were not backing down and they would continue their respective campaigns.

But in so doing, they also decided to gang up on Robredo, who they said has been asking them to withdraw in her favor to defeat Marcos. Moreno, the biggest whiner, complained that Robredo’s camp has been asking him to sacrifice and withdraw in Robredo’s favor.

The Manila mayor then said Robredo should withdraw instead.

“I’m calling for Leni to withdraw kasi (because) whatever [she’s] doing is not effective against the Marcos. Withdraw, come and join us,” he said.

Gonzales, a member of the Arroyo Cabinet, ignited the fire when he said that surveys have shown a big gap between No. 1 (Marcos) and No. 2 (Robredo) and this could be because people don’t like No. 2 and that they want a new contender to challenge Marcos.

He said, “I think it’s better if we could put aside number two and look at options three, four, five, six.

Maybe the right candidate our people are looking for to go against number one would be among those… because it seems like they don’t want the current number two to challenge number one.”

If the people wanted any of those behind Robredo, they should have been up there above her and below Marcos.

Where’s the logic in Gonzales’ claims? Also, the three candidates doubted the credibility of the surveys – with Moreno even saying they have evidence of fraud – and yet they are basing their conclusions on the “tainted” surveys. Where’s the consistency there?

A joint press conference that was expected to show the dignity of these candidates, turned out to be the exact opposite – three politicians who are trailing miserably in surveys stooping low to gang up on the lone female candidate.

This is exactly what the headline of Rappler.com stated: “Male survey laggards hit lone female presidential bet Robredo.”

The latest Pulse Asia survey, which they doubted and yet used as basis for their call to cast aside Robredo, showed Marcos with a 56% voter preference, followed by Robredo, 24%; Moreno, 8%; Pacquiao, 6%; Lacson, 2%; Faisal Mangondato, 1%; Abella, 0.1%; Jose Montemayor Jr., 0.05%; Leody de Guzman, 0.02%; and Gonzales, 0%.

How can someone who has 0% voter preference lead the call to boot out Robredo? If he were not a candidate, perhaps his call would be more acceptable to some people.

But obviously, whatever Moreno, Lacson and Gonzales had hoped to gain from the press conference backfired. Days after the “undue and unnecessary” event, social media was filled with messages from people who said they or somebody close to them were supporters of Moreno but were now voting for Robredo.

Even Lacson, who was credited with organizing the press event along with Moreno, had to distance himself from Moreno’s call for Robredo to withdraw, saying he didn’t see it coming.

“Sinabi naman niya ‘yon. Siya lang (He actually said that. He’s the only one),” Lacson said in response to an interview with reporters after the news briefing.

Did the three candidates gain anything from the press event? Definitely not. If ever, the event went in favor of their target, Robredo, who has never attacked any of them and who kept her composure, rightly so, after the event.

“Starting [today], there would only be 20 days left to the campaign. Let us not let our emotions get the better of us. Let’s not say hurtful words,” Robredo said. “We have a nation to fight for.”

Her spokesman, Atty. Barry Guttierez said: “Who benefits from these theatrics? What is best for the Filipino people? Perhaps, silence would have had more depth; at the very least, it would exhibit less self-entitlement, fragility and toxicity,” he added.

As I said, it was a very expensive way to whine, and Lacson wouldn’t say he footed the bill. They came to say they were united in continuing their campaigns, but ended up attacking No. 2 Robredo, instead of focusing on bringing down No. 1. What a pitiful sight of three candidates, whose voter preference ratings add up to just 10%, basically blaming Robredo for their campaigns’ failure to pick up.

One political analyst, Atty. Jun Garrido said: “What a sorry, sordid spectacle. Everybody left with a bad taste in the mouth at the amount of trash, scum and dregs spilled. Nobody gained from this spectacle, except Leni.”

Another one, UP political science professor Aries Arugay, aptly said of Moreno’s tirades: “Domagoso (Moreno) is [becoming] desperate. His campaign has lost its footing and orientation and it is shooting in all directions, and unfortunately this time, it shot itself in the foot.”
Hear, Hear!