Pangilinan: Every percent matters in race to Malacañang
President Benigno S. Aquino III to present the TAYO award during the Ten Accomplished Youth Organizations Year 12 (TAYO 12) Awarding Ceremonies at the Heroes Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (February 24). Since 2002, TAYO Awards recognizes and supports the outstanding contributions of youth organizations to the country. Also in photo are TAYO Awards founding president and Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization Francis Pangilinan and Coca-Cola Foundation Philippines vice chairman Juan Ramon Felix. (MNS photo)
MANILA (Mabuhay) — For administration senatorial bet Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, the presidential race is anybody’s game.
Pangilinan, who is running under the Liberal Party-led “Daang Matuwid” coalition, said it would be unreasonable to count anyone out of the presidential derby without a clear frontrunner less than three months before the polls in May.
“We don’t count anyone out. We still have 80 plus days at marami pang pwedeng mangyari,” Pangilinan told a forum in Quezon City.
“Every percent matters in a tight race like this. It’s the tighest since 1992,” he noted, recalling the elections that put Fidel Ramos into power by a slim margin.
The former presidential adviser on food security said he was confident that the placing of LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas in preference polls would improve in the coming days, despite public perception of elitism and lack of appeal.
“We are in a good place and we’d like to be in a better place. (Mar’s number) has increased from single digit to double digit and has not dipped. It’s steadily, slowly going up,” Pangilinan said.
“I am optimistic. Mar’s facility with the language and his ability to connect will continue to improve. It was true with FVR, it was true with President Aquino,” he added.
According to the latest Pulse Asia Survey, Roxas was statistically tied with fellow presidential bets Vice President Jejomar Binay and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Pangilinan said Binay, erstwhile frontrunner and opposition leader, remained a “serious contender” despite a recent dip in surveys.
“He’s a hard and seasoned campaigner in terms of pressing the flesh. He has the machinery. He’s also a serious contender—someone you can simply discount. Mabigat na kalaban din si VP Binay.”
But Pangilinan said the challenge to Binay was how to keep his survey ranking from further dropping amid corruption allegations against him.
As to Sen. Grace Poe, who emerged as frontrunner in the latest survey, Pangilinan said disqualification cases hounding her over citizenship and residency issues would directly affect the election results, as well as the numbers of her running mate Sen. Francis Escudero, no matter what the Supreme Court decision would be.
“The issue with Sen. Poe is whether she will be disqualified or not. Obviously that is affecting the possible outcome. It will have a direct bearing on the result of the elections,” Pangilinan said.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, needs to adjust his pronouncements in order to appeal more to the national audience, Pangilinan said.
“With Mayor Duterte it’s also difficult to tell. He’s a wildcard in a sense… (His pronouncements are) something he can get away with locally, but national constituency is different. Can he connect nationally or transform or adjust?” he said.
Pangilinan said Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, who was trailing all other presidential candidates in the recent survey, still had the chance to improve her numbers by making her presence felt more, especially that the 90-day campaign period already started.
Santiago, who claimed she controlled her stage 4 lung cancer, ran for president in 1992 and 1998.
“She is really not going around campaigning. If she make herself felt more in the national scene she will still get some support. In the end it’s a close fight,” Pangilinan said, noting the slim margin between Binay and Roxas in the 2010 vice presidential race.(MNS)