Do you have any idea how Occidental Mindoro voted for the presidential race in the last four elections? I’ll tell you later.
As obvious as animals were created for the consumption of man and use of man, top politicians belonging to Liberal Party, the so-called Dream Team, in Occidental Mindoro has been, yet indirectly, endorsing the candidacy of Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. But the question is, “What are the impacts of such endorsements of local political officials for a certain presidential aspirant?” Yes, endorsements are important and there’s nothing wrong about it no doubt, but how about its impact?
First, I am a more of a storyteller than a political analyst, just to clear myself. Only backed up by my 3 decades of inaccurately following political occurrences in Occidental Mindoro made me conclude that endorsements have an impact on elections but not the way we think it is. I am into opinion that endorsements in general does not change people’s mind when they already passed the limbo of un-decision. Tellingly, there’s nothing wrong with endorsement but it depends on who they are endorsing. The timing also counts, needless to say. One’s capacity or ability to win, still, is the biggest trick in the political game.
But after the filing of candidacy and the campaign trail is already half way, people will disregard endorsements and vote for the presidential candidate they like for whatever reasons they have. For example, if you intend and already fully convinced to vote Grace Poe for President, you're not going to vote for Mar Roxas because of, say, Governor Mario Gene J. Mendiola's endorsement. But endorsements are only indicators for voters as to whether or not they could be comfortable with their chosen candidate but it can never be a driving point in any electoral contest. At the end of the day, the endorsers’ own campaign will be prioritized and given more weight and importance. To emphasize my point, allow me to share to you Occidental Mindoro’s presidential election results from 1992 to 2010 directly from the records of the Philippine Congress.
In 1992, Jose T. Villarosa endorsed Ramon V. Mitra, his relative, but the people of Occidental Mindoro opted for Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco who garnered 23,893 votes while Mitra only got 19,897 votes. It was Fidel V. Ramos, who later, together with Villarosa became Josephine Ramirez-Sato’s wedding sponsor, gained the presidential seat. In 1998, when the rivalry of Villarosa and Sato already came into fruition, for instance, Joseph Estrada won via landslide both at the provincial and national level despite of the fact most of our local leaders endorsed and campaigned for Jose De Venecia. The same thing happened in the controversial 2004 elections when local political patrons endorsed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but the people of Occidental Mindoro voted for Fernando Poe, Jr. The former gained 34,267 votes compared to 78,688 for the latter. In 2010, the Villarosas led by then Deputy Speaker Amelita C. Villarosa endorsed Gilbert C. Teodoro receiving only 13,700 votes but our province-mates voted for Joseph “Erap” E. Estrada who got the biggest vote in our province’s history that we ever gave to presidential candidate which was pegged at 83,222 votes. As we all know the 2010 presidential race was won by President BS Aquino III and the people of Occidental Mindoro just contributed 50,468 votes for Kris’ elder brother. Please take note that every time Erap, the self-proclaimed man of the masses like Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, contested for presidency, we always make sure Erap was on top of our list. We have provided big numbers for Erap in two occasions, in 1998 and 2010, respectively. In 2010, despite of the fact that before the election he underwent an impeachment trial due to charges of graft practices, bribery, betrayal of public trust and culpable violation of the Constitution, the now Manila mayor gained the top post in our certificates of canvass. It was the same predicament Jejomar Binay is facing today. Lest we forget, Occidental Mindoro electorates placed Binay on top in the vice-presidential election getting 81,059 votes while Roxas only got 48,107 votes. Now tell me, have we achieved political maturity after 23 long years?
If endorsement impact remains at the backseat of a political wagon, why local politicians are still doing this? But before we answer that, let me bring you to the 3 major things to consider in one’s individual campaign: volunteers, voters and financial campaign contributors. Endorsements, compared to animal kingdom, are just preys to attract the predator (read: money and volunteers) and hope the majority of the voters will follow. These three things need to be considered over and above one’s political platform and/or party affiliation, including strategies and mechanisms. One thing is certain: endorsements as such manifest the existence of a deadly animal called Patronage Politics. True enough, the Patron-Client relationship does not only exist between the politician and the voter but between a local candidate and a national candidate as well. Whatever would be its impacts.
Thomas Love Peacock once said: “Nothing can be more obvious than that all animals were created solely and exclusively for the use of man.” If politics is also made for the use of man, it is safe to determine that political endorsement is the animal whose only purpose is to benefit the man as a politician, obviously….
(Photo: Provincial Government of Occidental Mindoro)