In the world of real politik, there is a formula in campaigning to ensure maximum utilisation of funds and resources in getting votes.
In areas where a candidate is strong, the formula is “Maximize the advantage” while in areas where he is weak, the key is “Minimize the damage.”
The formula is based on the reality that each candidate has a political base where the votes would be easy picking but hard to get for others.
It is simply based on fund-to-vote conversion.
The unwritten rule is simple: “Do not spend P1,000 in an area where it will only get one vote but in places where it could get you five votes.”
With Davao City Mayor and leading presidential contender Rody Duterte ahead by a proverbial mile in the latest surveys, Mindanao would prove to be a big headache for the other candidates.
In the latest survey conducted by the SWS, Duterte topped the four other candidates with 38% nation-wide.
With a voting population of 54 million and an estimated voting turn-out of 70%, that number is translated to almost 15 million votes.
He scored big in three areas: 44% in the Visayas, 48% in Metro Manila and 50% in Mindanao.
Duterte is ahead in the Visayas area for two probable reasons: ethnicity (Duterte’s father is Cebuano and he was born in Southern Leyte) and the anti-crime and anti-drugs advocacy that he is espousing.
In Metro Manila, where he got almost half of the voters’ preference, Duterte’s popularity could be because of his track record in fighting crime and drugs.
It is a different story in Mindanao. It is more of emotions and the sense of pride that somebody from the island could become its first Malacañang tenant.
This is all the more pronounced among Filipino Muslims who identify themselves with Duterte because of his quarter Moro blood and because he treated with kindness and compassion the Muslims in Davao City.
This is where the problem lies for other Presidential contenders.
Emotions do not yield to reason.
Mindanao’s political leaders too are just waiting for the right time to declare their support to Duterte knowing that it would be foolish to back other presidential candidates when their own constituents would like the Davao City Mayor to become the next President.
Besides, with Duterte leading in the national survey now, Mindanao’s political leaders know that the wisest thing to do is to swim with the tide.
In the remote possibility that Jejomar Binay or Mar Roxas wins the presidency, it would be easy for Mindanao politicians to explain that they had to support Duterte because he is a fellow Mindanaoan.
But it would be difficult for them to explain to President Duterte and their own constituents why they supported other candidates.
This is real politik.
Duterte’s numbers in Mindanao could still go up to 70% to 80% which, with an estimated voting population of 14 million and a voting turn-out of 80%, could be about 8 million votes.
Add the 8 million Mindanao votes to those that he would get all over the country and you have a majority President.
So, back to the “Maximize the advantage; Minimize the damage” formula.
Off-hand, even I, a 15-year politician, would find the Mindanao problem a difficult nut to crack.
For the other presidential candidates to top Duterte in Mindanao, they have to be as popular as the Davao City Mayor and they should have shiploads of money to splurge.
Grace Poe is popular but now that she has been disqualified, the financial faucets will start to close.
Miriam Defensor Santiago is popular but she does not have enough resources and she is not even visible in public functions.
Jejomar Binay may have bundles of money stashed somewhere but these would not be enough to trounce Duterte in Mindanao. Besides, the corruption charges against him are pulling him down.
Mar Roxas has massive resources at his disposal, including government resources which could be expended in the guise of delivery of government services (i.e. giving out of fire trucks and police cars to the different provinces and municipalities and the use of 4Ps as a political blackmail) but he is simply not acceptable to the Filipino masses.
With Duterte now promising to guard his mouth and avoid spewing out expletives, no amount of black propaganda or human rights cases could change the emotions and decision of the people of Mindanao.
For the Mindanaoans, the dream of producing their first President is just a matter of six months.
For the Filipinos all over the country, the radical change which happened in Davao City would soon be felt by the whole nation.
Oh, by the way, there is one other rule in real politik: When defeat is inevitable, accept it, stand by the way side and clap your hands for the next President of the Republic of the Philippines.