“The proof is in the people.”
The sight of the massive crowds that filled venues for presidential candidate Vice President Leni Robredo must have her rivals shaking in their shoes.
Surveys since last year have shown another candidate to be in the lead by a wide margin. But many have questioned the accuracy of such surveys, including the latest by Social Weather Stations that put Robredo’s net satisfaction rating at the lowest it has ever been, at +1 in Dec. 2021 compared to +24 in Sep. 2021. Strangely, this is the first time her rating has dipped to a single digit; the previous lowest rating was +18 in June 2021.
This latest SWS survey was conducted in 4Q-2021 and its full results were released only on March 11. However, SWS shared an initial report on Feb. 7 in another broadsheet. Why release any results at all before the entire study is complete? Was the early, partial release meant to skew public opinion? This puzzling move leaves them open to questions about their intentions and practices.
So because some believe that surveys do not give an accurate representation of reality, what other evidence can we use to determine the true state of things? For one, the attendance at the candidates’ rallies. The ones for Robredo have been consistently well attended, and drone photos (disallowed at another candidate’s gatherings lest they be embarrassed at their poor showing) reveal the blanket of pink that carpets the venues wherever she goes.
On March 11 in Bacolod City, an estimated 70,100 showed up; March 5, Bulacan, some 45,000; March 4, Cavite, around 47,000; about a week before that, some 40,000 in Iloilo City. Around 10,000 attended a rally in Isabela, located in the supposedly “Solid North.” Crowds in other locations were also sizeable, with the goal for organizers now to top the previous “record” set.
In contrast, video taken at a presidential candidate’s rally in Abra showed poor attendance and people leaving the venue even as he was still speaking. In another, rows and rows of plastic chairs were empty, mute witnesses to a failed event.
What’s amazing about the Kakampink campaign is that there isn’t a lot of money in their coffers. A lot of the material is donated, or purchased or made by supporters for their own use. Many of the signs people hold up at the rallies are hand-lettered. Tarps hung on homes are bought from Lazada at Shopee at the homeowners’ expense. The gigantic Leni and Kiko (Pangilinan) tarps seen at Paglaum in Bacolod were donated by a benefactor who said, “Let’s make this nice. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.” Many photos, graphics, artwork, and other such materials are produced on a volunteer basis and widely shared on social media.
Because a lot of the publicity materials are created by volunteers, it is especially frustrating and downright reprehensible that some Robredo murals have been painted over and tarps taken down, even if they are on private property. The Commission on Elections was criticized for its Oplan Baklas, which was temporarily halted after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on March 9. Just last Sunday (March 13), unknown persons painted over a Leni mural in a private property in Las Piñas.
The volunteer groups that were working on the mural, Youth for Leni-Las Piñeros and Las Piñeros for Leni, condemned the action and said in a statement, “Ang ganitong uri ng panggigipit at paniniil ay walang lugar sa isang sibilisadong lipunan na ipinaglaban ng ating mga ninuno. Nakalulungkot isipin na may mga tao at kampo na hindi gumagalang sa karapatan sa pribadong pagmamay-ari, karapatan sa malayang pamamahayag, at sa batas pang-eleksyon.”
(This sort of harassment and tyranny has no place in the civilized society that our ancestors fought for. It is sad to think that there are people and groups that do not respect the right of private ownership, the right to free speech, and election laws.)
Other actions that sought to suppress the show of pink support have been reported, among them signal jammers in Cavite and certain bus operations in Negros Occidental standing down. People found a way around them, or busted right through. If detractors think harassment or intimidation will deter supporters, they’ve got it dead wrong. All this just makes supporters even more keen to spread the word.
In other words, malicious and mean-spirited deeds and words are seen for what they are. The desperate and panicked often exercise poor judgment and their deeds backfire on them. They get results that are the opposite of what they want.
Pasig is organizing a Leni people’s rally, and other areas are likely to follow suit in the 55 days left of the campaign period. More politicians are endorsing Robredo, the latest being Bulacan Gov. Daniel Fernando, who said he “feels like the future of everyone, of the country, depends on it.”
The groundswell of support for Robredo is rising, despite claims to the contrary. The tide is turning. The proof is in the pictures. The proof is in the people.
*** FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO