“Compañero” Cayetano for President


Baguio City launch of PTK [Source: Cayetano Web Site]

This article pulls together the various observations and suggestions made by readers during the prior exercise that “crowdsourced” the Cayetano presidential campaign.

This is strictly an intellectual exercise and does not represent an endorsement of Senator Cayetano for president.

It is envisioned that the lead candidates for the presidency at the current time are Vice President Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas, the latter presumed to be President Aquino’s choice as heir to his good governance agenda.

The paper remains a draft, open to refinement via comments from readers.


Senator Cayetano has a sound platform from which to run. He has good values, has stood up strongly against corruption, has a lengthy term in Congress with many good deeds in his portfolio, and is of good character and clean reputation. He is well regarded by his peers, as evidenced by election as the minority leader.

Senator Cayetano has some drawbacks, including a certain lack of charisma, being a “Manila guy”, his wife’s troubled campaign for mayor of Taguig City, an image as a “nice guy” who is naive and soft rather than hard and accomplished, and he is accused of having played some dirty tricks behind the scenes during the last election. He does not have the extensive national network of “buddies” in mayoral and governor slots across the nation as does Binay, but he is working hard to build one. He has little foreign policy experience.

The Senator has a campaign vision elaborated in “PTK”, or “Presyo Trabaho Kita” which advocates empowering the poor by reducing prices and providing jobs, and continuing to fight against corruption. This is a positive, people-oriented campaign. However, it goes directly against the Binay strengths and may not, on its own, be enough to offset years of Binay relationship-building and sponsorship of local projects.

Building More Power into the Cayetano Campaign

The Cayetano campaign can be strengthened in five ways:

cayetano image

  1. Promote the Senator as a doer, not a talker, and emphasizing that he does the RIGHT things. This requires an appropriate slogan and relentless pressing of the “right things” advantage over Binay. Refer to his press releases to understand his positions on topical issues.
  2. Enhance Senator Cayetano’s emotional appeal as someone who is one with the people, who has worked hard to succeed, and who confronts wrong-doing head-on. “Ang kaibigan ng mamamayan.”
    • He needs to be careful in calling on God’s support because, although it may bring him closer to the working poor, it tends to make him look weak, as if needing God to succeed. His religious references need to be crafted to refer to God’s expectation that we work hard, live clean and confront wrong-doing.
  3. Emphasize that being against corruption is not enough. We must accelerate the investigations and trials and jailing of wrongdoers. Enough of the pampering of people because they are friends of friends. If they are crooks, jail them. And not at the Country Club. “We demand speedy investigations, trials and punishment.”
  4. Advocate a federalist government philosophy that empowers the regions to free them from the grasp of Manila. Envision a “United States of the Philippines” where states compete for manufacturing and tourism and other economic gains. This will push past Binay’s favor-trading and give-aways to get the attention of voters. [This point needs separate debate. The real point is he needs a STRIKING issue to get the endorsement of the local leaders.]
  5. Articulate a foreign policy that continues to advocate a law-based approach to the conflict with China, builds relationships with ASEAN states, Australia, Japan, South Korea and the U.S., and gives national sovereignty and well-being prominence over commercial gain for large corporations.

Defending Against Attacks

Senator Cayetano is not as vulnerable to attack as Binay or Roxas, as he has not put his mitt in any untoward wringers of note. The aim should be to make him the Teflon Man for any complaints.

  • The charge that Cayetano is a naive lightweight can be countered that one should not mistake quiet strength for weakness, and a recitation of his years in Congress, his accomplishments there, and his taking the lead in confronting the “big name” corrupt of Arroyo, Estrada, Napoles and Enrile.
  • The charge that his wife played a heavy hand to get the Taguig mayoral win can be countered that the heavy handed deeds were those of over-exuberant supporters, and we regret them.
  • The charge that he, too, is a political player – for example, as head of the Ethics Committee, choosing not to address the Sotto plagiarism charge – can be addressed by acknowledging that his energies are given to important matters that can be won, and not to minor issues or contests that cannot be won. The Sotto case was a tempest in a tea pot and did not rise to a level of significant importance.
  • The charge that he played dirty backroom politics in the 2010 election can be countered by explaining that any remark can be taken out of context, and that he consistently spoke against corruption and for strong government programs that better distribute wealth and opportunity to people, broadly.

Countering the Binay Campaign

Vice President Binay has large vulnerabilities:


In Dagupan with Jeepney drivers, launching PTK [Source: Cayetano Web Site]

  • Attack the Vice President for poor judgment (pushing his inexperienced daughter as senator, supporting his mayor son over innocent security guards, crossing official policy in negotiating with chief terrorist Masuari in the Zamboangan affair, a classmate, and any other mistakes he has made).
  • Attack the Vice President for coddling the corrupt and celebrating those who do misdeeds (Cebu Governor Garcia, Estrada, Enrile).
  • Attack Binay for playing it safe as Vice President, for not being a team player, and for not doing much of anything during his term.
  • Attack Binay for steps he has taken to erode an individual’s right and RESPONSIBILITY to vote his conscience (e.g., local coercion to vote as instructed by pals of Binay, and soft “vote buying” by wrapping donated relief goods within bags carrying his name.). The supporting theme might be along the lines of : “Your vote is precious. Use it wisely. Vote with courage.”

Countering the Roxas Campaign

The defense against Roxas will not be as sharp as against Binay, and will simply emphasize that Roxas has not demonstrated authoritative executive leadership in the positions he had at DOTC and DILG. It will re-enforce the notion that he is a part of the elite family dynasties of Manila and out of touch with provincial issues.

  • The slow start-up of infrastructure bidding and public/private partnerships during his term at DOTC.
  • The harried and often inarticulate handling of the Cagayan de Oro bombing, Zamboangan uprising and remedial work on Typhoon Yolanda.
  • The likelihood that he would be subject to undue pressure to compromise on deeds from the “families and corporate barons” of Manila.

Countering Poe, Lacson and Others

The essential response to Poe, Lacson and others is to make the point to voters “don’t take the risk”, go with proven competence and achievement.

  • Poe: simply too soon, too green.
  • Lacson: a work history too troubled with fights and frictions.
  • Others: not national caliber.

Next Steps

  1. Refine the arguments,
  2. Look at other candidates.


17 Responses to ““Compañero” Cayetano for President”
  1. andrew lim says:

    Great analytics. Let’s do it for the other choices.

  2. elmer says:

    My belief in Cayetano is now reinforced with this. But i think i missed something here, how is he going to be connected to the “masa”? (Is that the Ang Kaibigan ng Mamayan) Because you see we are so afflicted with this masa syndrome.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, that’s true, elmer. He has to wade into the strength of Binay to connect with the masses. As you can tell by the photographs, he is working actively to do that. But I think that Binay has spent years at it, and a lot of money and favors targeted at the influential people who can bring in the votes: governors and mayors. That is why the recommendation is that Cayetano do something dramatic, like adopting a federalist platform. It does not require a constitutional amendment, but can be done with laws that give more authority to the provinces. Or he may find some other striking connection. I don’t know what that might be. But I think one does not travel far swimming upriver.

  3. Joseph-Ivo says:

    Most Filipinos got to the mall not to shop but to dream, window shopping. Most Filipinos go to the ballot box, not to elect lawmakers or executives, but to experience a “belonging”, being part of an imaginary family. Who would I like to be my aunty or uncle, because she/he is attractive and open handed, rich and open handed, influential and open handed… Many of the candidates are far away, you might have to trust your local “knowledgeable” kuya or ate for guidance. The decision criteria are very emotional, based on things that happened yesterday, not months ago. What emotional things have to happen in the first half of 2016 to make you want to hug Cayetano? I miss this deciding aspect of an election.

    • Joe America says:

      Okay, I herein drop all labels for you. This is the clearest explanation of the voting illogic that I have ever read. Almost making it sound logical.

    • edgar lores says:

      The emotional thing that will happen will be the charging of the 3 (?) senators for plunder by the Ombudsman. The timing may be crucial. Ideally, it should be done before Binay forms a new party while he is identified with Enrile and the Estradas. This is the seismic event that will determine the fortune – or the misfortune – of Binay.

      Another emotional event would be what happens to GMA before 2016.

      The “karma” concept is now so embedded in the Filipino psyche that people will see these events as heaven denominated.

  4. edgar lores says:

    1. First off, I have a bee in my bonnet about the federalist idea. It may be a good idea, but it does not stand on its own.
    1.1. As I mentioned, there are corollary issues attached.
    1.2. More importantly, it is or should be a charter change idea as it would upend the present local government structure, and it may not have the highest priority among the other changes being contemplated.
    1.3. Having said that, I would not be surprised if it becomes a plank in the platform of a party because people find it attractive. GMA tried to use it as a ploy to justify setting up a con-con (constitutional convention) with the purpose of extending her reign. But if the other issues, charter and non-charter, are not resolved and prioritized, it would be basically a gimmick. Admittedly, most campaigns are gimmicky. (Personally, I would dismiss the candidate as dishonest if the idea is presented on its own without consideration of other factors.)
    1.4. Indeed, the idea would better suit the Binay campaign (so that the people do not make a mistake in smelling a rat).

    2. There are five other factors that have not been considered. There may be more.

    o North-South Equation
    o Multiple Horse Race
    o Ceasar’s Wife
    o Entertainment Value
    o Mestizo Factor

    3. North-South Equation. This time-honored equation states that if the main candidate is from the North, his wife or his running partner must be from the South. Thus, Ferdie North, Imelda South. Or Ferdie North, Lopez South.

    4. Multiple Horse Race. If two other prominent candidates run against Binay, they will split the pro-PNoy vote and Binay will win. The Liberal Party (with Mar) and the Nacionalista Party (with Cayetano) must maintain the present coalition. Disunity is death.

    5. Caesar’s Wife. I think for the first time in presidential races, the wives (or spouses) will be a determining factor. Because of their infamous predecessors (Imelda and the First Gentleman). Call it the eww-factor: which lady should we NOT even think of making the First Lady? Now I gather that all the prospective first ladies so far are below suspicion, so this will be a tough call.

    6. Entertainment Value. Which candidate, or his wife, sings/dances better? Imelda (again!) may not have had the skills of a coloratura soprano, but she had adequate tonsils to charm the masa.

    7. Mestizo Factor. In beauty contests, Filipinos prefer mestizas over morenas. We are not sure whether this applies to men as well. Ramon Mitra Jr. lost to Ramos. It may be that the color differential was not that marked.

    8. Is there a huggable factor as Joseph puts it? Hmm, definitely… yes to some and oh, no to others.

    • Bert says:

      Sen. Cynthia Villar has announced that husband Manny Villar might be running for president again in 2014. Isn’t he a Nationalista Party, a party mate of Cayetano? Binay must be griinning ear to ear with that announcement.

      • edgar lores says:


        That’s interesting. Both Binay and Villar are padrino figures (unlike the youthful Roxas and Cayetano) with deep pockets. Wealth-wise Villar would have the cleaner image. So, too, would Cynthia over Elenita. In a two-horse race, I would give Villar good odds if he is able to paint Binay blacker than black. I still imagine a three- or more horse race would favor Binay. (Note 1: There may also a health factor (?). Note 2: The Binay name has greater cachet: Nancy ranked (5th) higher than Cynthia (10th) in the last senatorial elections (?) Note 3: I am not Nate Silver.)

    • Dee says:

      I am doing a research on the multi-parties in PI. I am trying to test the general perception that Binay has an insurmountable masa appeal. So far, my findings are to the contrary. Like the infographics that I shared about the campaign contributors for Aquino, Villar and Estrada-Binay before, something is missing to prove Binay’s clout. There is an X factor that is not given in the researchable information. In the campaign contributions infographics, it might the private/public organizations and grassroots movements in the Estrada-Binay equation. In my study of political parties, it might be glaring evidence that UNA does not have the perceived backing of the regional politicians and the masa. What is this X factor?

      • edgar lores says:


        1. Binay has clout: Nancy won handily.
        2. Binay does not have clout: So many factors – corruption, dynasty (Binaysty), and the maligno perception.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, federalism or simply new laws that empower the governors and mayors, rather like the Bangsamoro agreement. I agree it is a shaky proposal, but the point is more that Cayetano needs SOME lever to get him talked about amongst the opinion shapers and buyers. He is now going about from community to community to establish that he is “Comprador”, and I don’t know if that is strong enough.

      It is interesting that the five factors in 2 have absolutely nothing to do with capability, but are the foundations of choice for many. But then, I suppose there was a reason JFK won, too. Charm, wife, looks . . .

      Point 4 the multiple horses . . . someone will have to have the honor to drop out based on the polls.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, federalism or simply new laws that empower the governors and mayors, rather like the Bangsamoro agreement. I agree it is a shaky proposal, but the point is more that Cayetano needs SOME lever to get him talked about amongst the opinion shapers and buyers. He is now going about from community to community to establish that he is “Companero”, and I don’t know if that is strong enough.

      It is interesting that the five factors in 2 have absolutely nothing to do with capability, but are the foundations of choice for many. But then, I suppose there was a reason JFK won, too. Charm, wife, looks, sexy accent . . .

      Point 4 the multiple horses . . . someone will have to have the honor to drop out based on the polls.

  5. Dee says:

    The Nationalista is the party of Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada. The Marcoses still identify with the party. Could it be better for Cayetano to break out from it and form him a new party with a platform based on what the grassroots value for masa pogi points?

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