Male straggler ‘eggs’ disappeared on Easter Sunday

Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, former Secretary of Defense Norberto Gonzales and Senator Panfilo Lacson, all candidates for the 2022 Philippine presidential election, hold a copy of their signed agreement during a joint press conference at the Manila Peninsula in Makati City, Metro Manila, the Philippines, April 17, 2022. Laggards in the survey held the Easter event to declare their intention not to quit the presidential race. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

Who thought that was a good idea?

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Panfilo Lacson and former Secretary of Defense Norberto Gonzales, all trailing behind the investigation, held a press conference Sunday (April 17) at an expensive hotel to claim that a certain presidential candidate reportedly approached their respective camps asking them to withdraw from the presidential race.

So the three of them – who were also joined by vice-presidential candidates, Senate President Vicente Sotto and Willie Ong – said they were not bowing down. This, they said, is that they show “unity”.

It could have ended there…until Moreno opened his mouth.

“I call on [Vice President] Leni [Robredo] Retract [because] no matter [she is] do is not effective against [former senator Ferdinand] Marks. Stand down, come join us,” he said.

But Moreno, Lacson and Gonzales must be delusional to think any of them will win if Robredo retires. In the latest Pulse Asia survey, Moreno got 8%, Lacson 2% and Gonzales 0% – literally the size of an Easter egg. If we combine their odds (and even if we add Senator Manny Pacquiao’s 6% into the equation), they still wouldn’t match Robredo’s 24%.

How did they come to the idea that one of them would win if Robredo backed down, especially after their recent display of intimidation? Given yesterday’s hubbub, I believe many Robredo supporters will move on to other more prominent candidates if the vice president resigns; if you ask me, choosing to vote for Guzman’s Ka Leody will make more sense.

Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno”  Domagoso, former Secretary of Defense Norberto Gonzales, and Senator Panfilo Lacson, all candidates for the 2022 Philippine presidential election, hold a joint press conference at the Manila Peninsula in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines on 17 April 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, former Secretary of Defense Norberto Gonzales and Senator Panfilo Lacson, all candidates for the 2022 Philippine presidential election, hold a joint press conference in the Manila Peninsula, in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines April 17, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

It was also funny when Gonzales said Filipinos should look beyond number 2 – referring to Robredo who currently ranks second in the Pulse Asia survey – and consider them instead. Why are they proposing to have a new number 2 when the goal should be to have a new number 1?

If their real goal is to avoid a Marcos presidency, as Moreno said when he asked Robredo to step down, shouldn’t they be ganging up on Marcos and not Robredo? It’s like a competition – your goal should be to beat the defending champion, not the first runner-up. Only a loser thinks that way. Focusing all your energy on beating the first runner-up just doesn’t make sense.

Unless, of course, their goal is to let number 1 win by training number 2 with them. We can never know.

Moreno and Lacson must have been extremely hurt when IM Pilipinas and Partido Reporma left them for Robredo. Add to that that Robredo saw an increase while Moreno saw a decrease in their respective preference ratings (it’s likely that the numbers Moreno lost were among those added to Robredo’s, hence his unmistakable agitation towards Robredo). Their male egos must have been really bruised for them to resort to asshole bullying of the female candidate who is currently enjoying the momentum.

The conduct of Moreno, Lacson and Gonzales reveals a behavior unfortunately common in the country’s heavily patriarchal society: men still expect women to make room for them.

Moreno and his friends should be on the cutting edge as budding national leaders. But alas, being in dear Manila Peninsula can’t even cover up their disgusting sexism and misogyny.

Three weeks from the election, it seems very obvious that we are already following a two-way race between Marcos and Robredo. That’s most likely why Moreno, Lacson, and Gonzales desperately fit into the show, still hoping to look relevant — all under the disguise of “unity.”

Former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales speaks during a joint press conference with Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno”  Domagoso and Senator Panfilo Lacson, all presidential candidates for the 2022 Philippine elections, on the Manila Peninsula in Makati City, Metro Manila, the Philippines April 17, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

Former Secretary of Defense Norberto Gonzales speaks during a joint press conference with Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso and Senator Panfilo Lacson, all of whom are running for president of the Philippines in 2022, in the Manila Peninsula, in Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines, April 17, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

As the “sadwood” in Philippine politics (as portrayed by netizens) were busy ganging up on the lone presidential candidate at a press conference, Robredo was busy having lunch with Sumilao farmers in Naga; Sumilao farmers marched across the country actively campaigning for Robredo, who was their advocate when they fought for their ancestral land claimed by the giant San Miguel Corporation.

Additionally, on the same day, Robredo moved his campaign symbol from a pink rose to a flower bearing the colors of the Philippine flag: red, blue and yellow – joined by the campaign colors of Robredo and his running mate Senator Francis. “Kiko” Pangilinan: pink and green.

On the contrary, the change in their overall campaign message shows that the pink rose has already blossomed into a Filipino flower – more patriotic and more inclusive. Isn’t that unity?

Robredo capped off the evening with a Facebook post addressing his supporters. She said in Filipino: “There are 20 days left in the campaign. Don’t let our emotions take over. Let’s stop saying hurtful words. Let’s focus on the campaign – person to person, heart to heart. We have a nation to fight for.

I was left amazed by the grace and calmness with which Robredo reacts to attacks – characteristics that only people with a sense of dignity and nobility possess. This Facebook post was a huge slap in the face for Moreno, Lacson and Gonzales; their expensive press conference proved unnecessary.

Instead of holding a presser, Moreno, Lacson and Gonzales should have used that time and energy to focus on their respective campaigns and not Robredo’s. But because of their recent theatrics, they’ve revealed their male egos and toxic, masculine self-interests are hurt because a female candidate is way ahead in the polls. So they resort to what a bunch of scared boys do in times of fear – stand up and come off as bullies.

Sadwood and bullies. This is how you will be remembered.

Juju Z. Baluyot is a Manila-based writer who writes in-depth special reports, features and opinion pieces for a wide range of publications. He covers cultures, media, gender and the 2022 Philippine elections. The views expressed are his own.

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Alicia R. Rucker