By Jun Ledesma

THE campaign period for locally-elected positions starts on March 25. The trend of the voters’ preference will significantly have an impact on the local polls. This will be most pronounced in Davao Region and here’s the reason why.

It was in Davao del Norte where Partido Para sa Demokratikong Reporma, Partido Reporma in brief, was resurrected by ex-Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.  Hugpong ng Pagbabago, or HnP, was organized in Davao City by Mayor Inday Sara Duterte. 

Bebot and Inday were at loggerheads when the former absurdly branded HnP which was founded by the presidential daughter, is an opposition party.  

The two exchanged barbs. Pres. Rodrigo Duterte cautioned Alvarez not to try the mettle of Inday whom he described as the Alpha in the family. It did not help that in the middle of a clash, a rumor about Alvarez allegedly saying before a crowd somewhere that while Duterte is President he as Speaker can have him impeached.  

The altercation ended with Alvarez being jettisoned from the totem pole of power. That episode proved the power of suasion of the iron lady from the south and the power of regional political parties. 

But Bebot knows how to use his money. In the 2019 elections, he outspent the Del Rosario and Floirendo clan, believe it or not, who refused to cough out hard-earned money to waste in a high-stakes political campaign. Bebot’s renegade PDP-Laban wing virtually won all elected positions in the 2019 electoral derby.  

Fast forward to the current situation. The first act which Bebot did was to go for the jugular of his benefactor Pres. Rodrigo R. Duterte. In the guise of voters' education forum bannered as In Search of a Leader -2022,  Alvarez mounted the most vicious attack against the Duterte administration dubbing it a total failure. He was to stage more forums outside of Davao del Norte when Covid -19 caught up with him. He went into a long hiatus only to emerge later peddling Partido Reporma to Senators Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto. 

Partido Reporma is actually a cursed party winning only one congressional seat since its inception in 1998.  If we have to believe the surveys Lacson and Sotto are not shielded from the curse. Alvarez on the other hand is reduced to just an inconsequential congressman who has lost his influence and is no longer bankable as when he was Speaker. 

In a recent survey conducted by Laylo Research Strategies,  Partido Reporma presidential bet, Ping Lacson, garnered only 1% in Davao Region against 82% of Bongbong Marcos. In the vice-presidential race, Inday Sara Duterte clobbered Tito Sotto with  93% against the latter’s 4%.  This is despite the earlier claim of Tito Sotto that Partido Reporma is the ruling party in the Davao Region.  

Overall, nationwide,  BBM scored 64% against Lacson 3% while Inday Sara had 60% versus Sotto’s 19%. The  BBM-Sara UniTeam lost only in the Bicol Region which was dominated by Leni Robredo.

These lopsided results in favor of BBM and Sara which too are reflected in SWS, Pulse Asia, and Publicus Asia are a death knell to the other teams with Partido Reporma buried deeper than the rest. 

Given this stark reality, it will be foolhardy for the electorates of Davao del Norte to pin their hopes on Partido Reporma. The same is true in Davao de Oro where Partido Reporma has a sprinkling of candidates.  And this is what and how the miserable performance of Lacson and Sotto will impact the fate of their local candidates.  It all depends now on voters to either live in fantasy or wake up to the pulsating reality that Partido Reporma is forever doomed. 

About the Columnist

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Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.