After hearing that President Aquino announced that Manuel Araneta Roxas II (“Mar”) was his Liberal Party’s presidential candidate in 2016, a friend, the toughie kind of talker remarked, which I translate into English: “Didn’t he already lose the Vice President contest in 2010? Yet he thinks he can win the presidential contest? It’s as if you lost in the welterweight, and then you still fight in the heavyweight division.”
That folksy idea has historical basis. Vice-presidential (VP) contests in our country in the past seven decades have been preliminary rounds of sorts for the highest post of the land.
And with one exception, all losing vice presidential candidates in the entire history of the Republic didn’t dare run for president after their humbling experience.
The exception is Sergio Osmena, Jr. (the incumbent senator’s father), who lost in the vice presidential elections in 1961, and then run for president in 1969 against Ferdinand Marcos– and lost by a landslide.
Roxas II will be the second after Osmena to lose a VP contest (in 2010, against Jejomar Binay), yet insist to run for the Presidency.
On the other hand, and if the VP contest were a dry-run, out of the country’s eleven presidents, five had been vice presidents.
Another way of putting that is that all vice-presidents of the Republic who ran for president won: Elpidio Quirino, Carlos Garcia, Diosdado Macapagal, Joseph Estrada, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Except for the 1961 elections (incumbent Garcia vs. vice president Macapagal), all former vice presidents won by a landslide, getting votes more than twice those of their opponents. Vice President and presidential candidate Jejomar Binay’s victory will just follow that historical pattern.
One reason for this is that voters think that if a candidate loses a post for a replacement job (the vice president), he definitely shouldn’t be voted into the actual job (the presidency itself), which is really logical thinking.
An intellectually-honest person would accept the fact that losing the contest for a position that is “one heart-beat away from the presidency” is enough confirmation that voters have already rejected him for that highest position in government. He must humble himself and accept the reality that after all, there other leaders Filipinos can choose form.
Or maybe it’s a kind of Filipino bias or superstition that a “talunan”(loser) should accept his fate and should no longer seek the highest post of the land.
He can’t go against destiny. If by chance he does become President, he’d bring his bad luck to the nation itself. A sort of validation of that would be the case of Osmena, Jr., and his trouncing by Marcos for the presidency despite the future president’s growing unpopularity and the massive support for him by the media giants a that time, ABS-CBN and The Manila Chronicle.
Post-war vice presidential elections
Details of the country’s post-war vice presidential elections that show this phenomenon are as follows:
•1946: Eulogio Rodriguez, a senate president, lost in the VP contest to Elpidio Quirino, who then won as president in the succeeding elections.
•1949: Manuel C. Briones, a popular Cebu legislator, lost to Fernando Lopez, the hacendero elite clan and sugar-bloc’s sentinel, as it were, in the political realm. (Lopez never run for president, even as the won as vice president three times.)
•1953: Jose Yulo lost to Carlos P. Garcia, who went on to become president in the succeeding elections.
•1957: Jose Laurel lost to Diosdado Macapagal, who became president in the succeeding election, in 1961.
•1961: Sergio Osmena, Jr. lost to Emmanuel Pelaez, presidential candidate Macapagal’s running mate . (Pelaez didn’t run in the succeeding elections, with Macapagal seeking re-election.)
•1965: Gerardo Roxas, Manuel Roxas II’s father, lost to Fernando Lopez, presidential candidate Marcos’ running mate.
•1969: Genaro Magsaysay lost to Fernando Lopez, again Marcos’ running mate, to serve his third term as VP.
•1992: Marcelo Fernan lost to Joseph Estrada in the VP race, who went on to become p;resident in the 1998 elections.
•1998: Edgardo Angara lost to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who would become president when Estrada fell in 2001 and then win in the 2004 presidential elections.
•2004: Loren Legarda lost to Noli De Castro in the VP contest. (De Castro didn’t run in the 2010 elections.)
•2010: Mar Roxas lost to Jejomar Binay for the VP post.
Going by historical precedent therefore, the probability would be that Binay’s a sure, landslide winner, while Roxas II has little chance of winning.
The historical precedent also shows that losing a VP contest is a kiss of political death. That makes me wonder if Senator Grace P. Llamanzares is still waiting for Binay to name her his running mate, so she could calculate if she would beat that candidate. Nobody seems really interested in being Roxas II’s vice-presidential running mate.
I’m quite sure the Liberal Party’s elders, even Senate President Franklin Drilon, know their history. And they know that with the prevalent use of voter-preference polls, it would be difficult to cheat in 2016 despite their massive resources.
Yet they still picked as the party’s standard bearer a losing VP candidate. That makes me conclude really that the real reason why Aquino still anointed Roxas II was he knew too much of this Yellow Regime’s corruption, and this guy could certainly throw a tantrum if he wasn’t picked.
But, of course, probabilities, even if based on statistics, are mere probabilities, which by definition have exceptions, the outliers. A charismatic leader could easily defy historical trends, especially one with the masa touch, as Ramon Magsaysay did in 1953.
Roxas II, masa touch? His speech the other day at the Liberal Party’s show of force was a disaster — the Ilonggo scion of two hacendero clans couldn’t really even make a speech in Pilipino.