All talk, no action

“Robredo now says she is ready to lead a “united” opposition. Or so she says.”

Being the Vice President — unless the Presidential Electoral Tribunal declares Bongbong Marcos the winner in the vice presidential race under protest — Leni Robredo says she is willing to lead the opposition against the camp of President Duterte in the 2019 mid-term elections. Tough words, but can she hack it?

Robredo is the opposition Liberal Party’s highest elected official and had been expected to lead the opposition, which she never really did. Although these days, perhaps buoyed up by the latest survey-claimed decline in satisfaction rating of the President — which survey results subscribers get in advance — Robredo appears to be working hard to portray herself as a capable and strong opposition leader.

Robredo now says she is ready to lead a “united” opposition. Or so she says.

The reason Robredo has come out openly to claim the opposition leadership which is something she never did even when she was proclaimed vice president, may be due to the latest SWS survey results showing Duterte’s satisfaction rating dipping from “very good” to “good;” and SWS’s useless positive-negative net numbers and percentages that mean nothing, save for purposes of its graphs and the rise or fall of the numbers of dissatisfied survey respondents.

Duterte didn’t do too badly by way of survey results, considering that he is into his third year as president.

He still obtained a rating of 65 percent satisfaction, which translates to a majority of respondents still satisfied with him, despite the slew of criticisms leveled against him.
His dissatisfaction rating has gone up, with 20 percent disapproval rating with 15 percent undecided.

However, when the 65 percent rating is translated by SWS with its usual net rating, the rating comes off with a net 45 percent, which comes off as just a plurality instead of a majority.

But no matter the net percentage, the survey percentage of respondents satisfied is 65, not 45 percent.

Such surveys should be taken with a grain of salt, as these numbers can be manipulated—especially pre-election surveys.

But for the opposition forces and other critics, these numbers are taken to mean that it is time for them to thumb down Duterte. That is why the opposition forces, especially the radical Catholic bishops, have been hitting Duterte with the God issue, anti-drug drive and other issues that do not seem to make Duterte that unpopular a president.

Not surprisingly, given the decline in survey numbers, Robredo suddenly wants to lead the opposition.

“There have been initiatives by some groups to unite, and they have asked me if I can lead,” she told media.

“So, I told them yes. But we need to talk about the terms,” one of which is the completion of a united opposition slate prior to the filing of certificates for candidacy which begins in the first week of October.

It should be fairly easy for Robredo to claim leadership of the opposition and inherit opposition members, such as the Leftist Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, that once served as a support group of Duterte.

Already they made their support to Robredo and the opposition public.

The perennial critics of any government in power, such as Party-list Representatives Antonio Tinio, France Castro of ACT Teachers Party-list and Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, said they will support Robredo. That’s expected.

But will their votes really count in a senatorial election? Not even any of these partylisters has been successful in getting elected to the Senate. Bayan’s members that ran for the Senate never won a Senate seat in the past.

Perhaps a united opposition bloc can get behind Robredo, but can Robredo’s leadership translate to her leading the opposition to an electoral victory in 2019 and even more in 2022, when Duterte ends his term?

As pre-electoral surveys tend to show, senatorial hopefuls identified with the opposition aren’t doing well. Even the virtual lone opposition reelectionist Liberal Party stalwart, Sen. Bam Aquino, has a precarious ranking and has more chances of losing his seat in the Senate.

Still, it’s early days and the rankings can change.

However, at the same time, Duterte’s senatorial pre-election bets aren’t doing that well either. The latest pre-election survey results show some of the members of the Senate majority seeking reelection and independents having the better chances of landing more Senate seats come election day.

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