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WHEN FVR, DUTERTE MET

When former President FIDEL RAMOS and Davao Mayor RODRIGO "Digong" DUTERTE met in Davao City a few days ago, the several events where they were seen together and the reports that ensued were "combustible" enough to start a political fire. Well, let me give you some "inside" story if I may to somehow clear the air.

Truth to tell, not anyone of us talked about any endorsement of Mayor Digong for the presidency nor did we egg him to run for president, as some quarters had been speculating. Although I must admit, a possible Duterte candidacy for the presidency was at the back of our minds. Instead, it was a friendly chat -- stock-taking and updating each other around the table -- and reminiscing.

We threw around the table a few tidbits. But Mayor Duterte, for most of the time, was only intently listening.

FVR talked about his own experience when he ran for president. He recalled how he even had no political party when he started. He even lost the presidential nomination of the administration party, the LDP to House Speaker RAMON MITRA. Then he ran -- and won -- against a phalanx of heavyweights like MONCHING MITRA, DANDING COJUANCO, MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO & IMELDA MARCOS.

He recalled how he had to doubly work harder and had to leave Mindanao in the last leg of his campaign to focus on Metro Manila as he was losing heavily there. He talked about not relying totally on politicians, although they helped deliver the votes, but generate support from private groups, NGOs, volunteers.

Paul Dominguez shared what he learned about the results of a deep study where it was established that most people or voters choose candidates on the basis of what the officials can do -- or are perceived to be able to do -- to them personally or how the candidates handle things that personally matter to them (the voters) and not on the basis of whether or not they are corrupt or are perceived to be corrupt or for other factors.

I recalled that in my recent travels (Iligan, Butuan, Surigao, Cagayan de Oro) ordinary folks or the "masa" whom I talked with, still had not changed, thus far, on their support for Vice President Binay as their candidate for president inspite of the frequent media bashing he was getting.

I recalled what one political analyst in Iligan told me his theory or estimation that "the political fates of Binay and Duterte are now closely linked and intertwined; that they are inversely proportional to the other". Meaning, if Binay further drops in the next surveys, Duterte will have a good chance of becoming the next president; if Binay however recovers or stabilizes and arrests the fall, Duterte will have a hard time winning. It was his political calculus that smacks right into today's realities. It remains to be validated though but it's interesting.
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