The senatorial race

"Aquino is a negative figure for Otso Diretso."


It looks like the eight-man opposition Otso Diretso senatorial ticket backed by former President Benigno Simeon (BS) Cojuangco Aquino III will be shut out of the May 13, 2019 midterm senatorial elections.

With a little over two months before the elections, only one of the eight is likely to make it into the Magic 12 circle of winners, if you believe the Pulse Asia survey of February 2019 involving 1,800 likely voters. The survey has a + and—2.3 percent error margin which means the poll could be a fairly accurate indicator.

The Otso Diretso senatorial candidates are: Pilo Hilbay, Samira Gutoc, Bam Aquino, Gary Alejano, Erin Tañada, Romy Macalintal, Chel Diokno, and Manuel Araneta “Mar” Roxas, a reluctant member of the team and a Liberal Party stalwart.

BS Aquino has campaigned for Otso Diretso but to some observers, he is a negative influence (a hate figure), rather than an advantage, owing to his lamentable performance as president for six years. He was do-nothing, vindictive, and condoned corrupt deals like massive pork barrel, bribery of senators, NFA’s profiteering, smuggling of all kinds, Dengvaxia, passport printing, and Mamasapano massacre.

Per Pulse Asia’s February 2019 survey, Roxas is ninth, Bam Aquino 15th, Diokno 24th, Macalintal 26th, Tañada 27th, Gutoc 28th, and Hilbay is 42nd.

The only anti-Duterte senatorial aspirant who could make it convincingly is returning former LP Senator Roxas whom the President defeated handily in the May 2016 presidential elections.

Mar is ensconced in ninth place with 39.8 percent (equivalent to about 16 million votes) of those surveyed saying they will vote for him. The heir to the vast Cubao landholdings is sometimes not reckoned as part of the Otso Diretso. Mar campaigns most of the time all by his lonesome self.

The real leader of the Otso Diretso team thus is LP reelectionist Senator Bam Aquino, BS Aquino’s cousin. Bam is 15th. Before he could land in 12th spot, he has to defeat No. 13th Jinggoy Estrada (PMP), and No. 14th Francis Tolentino, (PDP-Laban), both of the Hugpong coalition.

Assuming 40 million votes for senators, Bam’s 30.4 percent rating translates into just 12.16 million votes, more than two million votes behind No. 12, former Senate President Koko Pimentel (of PDP-Laban Hugpong), 35.6 percent or 14.24 million; more than 1.4 million votes behind Jinggoy’s 33.9 percent or 13.56 million, and more than 680,000 votes behind Francis Tolentino’s 32.1 percent or 12.84 million votes.

The margin of error of 2.3 percent translates into 920,000 votes—plus or minus. So Bam could statistically erase Tolentino’s 680,000-vote margin but not Jinggoy’s 1.4-million-vote advantage. But of course, Bam’s dad, Paul Aquino, is a veteran political campaign strategist. That talent Bam should now make use of.

Reelectionist Senator Grace Poe, independent, sustains her lead in the senatorial race in the Pulse Asia survey of February 2019,

Pulse Asia says 14 bets (including Jinggoy and Tolentino) have a statistical chance of making it to the winners’ circle if the elections were conducted at the time of the survey.

All the probable winners (Bong Go and Bato dela Rosa are the exceptions) are either former or current members of Congress.

Grace Poe is solo at the top 67.5 percent of voters wanting to vote for her. That’s about 27 million votes.

Senator Cynthia Villar (NP), also a reelectionist, has the support of 61 percent of registered voters, a solo second place.

Third and fourth are former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Go, PDP-Laban, (53 percent) and Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, LDP, (52.2 percent).

Fifth is former Senator Lito Lapid, NPC, picked by 49 percent of registered voters.

Also making it are: Taguig City Representative Pia Cayetano, NP, (47 percent) sixth; and former Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) Chief Ronald dela Rosa, PDP-Laban, seventh, (44.6 percent).

Reelectionist Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay, (UNA), is preferred by 40.5 percent, eighth place.

Another ex-lawmaker, former Senator Ramon Revilla, Jr., Lakas, is tenth, with voter preference of 36.8 percent. Eleventh and 12th are Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, NP, (36 percent) and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, PDP-Laban, (35.6 percent).

Jinggoy Estrada (PMP) could make it handily into the winners’ column if the Sandigan dismisses the plunder charges against him. The anti-graft court has granted his petition to seek dismissal of the case. 

Only 37 percent have a complete senatorial slate of 12 senators. This could mean those outside the Top 12 could still make it on May 13.

The Puse Asia survey was conducted Feb. 24-28, 2019 using face-to-face interviews.

By region, error margins at 95 percent confidence level are:  +/- 6.8 percent for Metro Manila, +/-3.5 percent for the rest of Luzon, +/-5.1 percent for Visayas and +/-4.8 percent for Mindanao.

 The fact that Duterte’s personal candidates—Bong Go (third), Bato dela Rosa (sixth), and Tolentino (14th) could win without cheating is a tribute to President Duterte’s political capital.

He enjoys high double-digit approval and trust ratings despite a record 11-year-high inflation rate in 2018 and the worst water crisis to inundate Metro Manila this summer.

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Topics: Tony Lopez , The senatorial race , Otso Diretso , midterm senatorial elections , Liberal Party
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