Like falling dominoes, incumbent congressmen and local government officials are defecting to Vice President Leonor “Leni” Robredo as the presidential campaign reaches the halfway mark.

There is still enough time to turn the tide as the “pink campaign” goes street-to-street and house-to-house to convince the unbelievers that a Robredo presidency is much better than her main rival who is only good in propaganda and disinformation.

Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr has no track record to show. He popped up from nowhere after five years of trying to unseat his rival to show he cared for typhoon and pandemic victims.

In sharp contrast, Robredo has been doing her work better than what President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration did in two years. She has accomplished more with meager resources and an army of volunteers.

Looking at the results of the vice-presidential elections in 2016 and the defections happening at the local level, there is no way Bongbong Marcos will win even if earlier surveys showed him with a runaway 60 percent support.

But that was in February. The March and April surveys may show a different result. Bongbong’s margin could be much narrower due to game-changer events.
In 2016, Marcos Jr. won big on the main island of Luzon, including in Metro Manila. Robredo won only in some parts of the southern Tagalog and Bicol regions as well as in Tarlac.

Robredo took the Visayas except Leyte where Marcos Jr. won due to his mother’s influence in her home province. Leyte’s local leaders, the Romualdezes, are also related to him.

Marcos Jr. is weak in Mindanao, winning only in Sulu and Zamboanga del Sur and large parts of Soccsksargen and the Cotabato provinces.

This year, the Lingayen to Lucena corridor, including the National Capital Region (NCR), remains crucial for both Marcos Jr. and Robredo. About 40 percent of the 65 million voters will come from this area. This will be the battleground area for the May 2022 elections.

In 2016, Marcos Jr. dominated this area, losing only in the provinces of Tarlac, Batangas, and Quezon. He won almost all cities and a town in Metro Manila, except Taguig which went to Alan Peter Cayetano.

The three northern Luzon regions – Ilocos, Cordillera, and Cagayan Valley – are expected to vote for Marcos Jr. But if he won 85 percent to 95 percent of votes in these regions, he could no longer expect a repeat of 2016 polls.

Robredo has considerable support in the Cagayan Valley, especially in the Cagayan and Isabela provinces where local officials and residents were very grateful for Robredo’s typhoon Ulysses response in 2000. She was the first to respond as a wide swathe of the rice-producing regions went underwater in the worst flooding seen in 40 years.

Robredo could put a dent in Marcos’ known bailiwick if she gets a conservative 10 percent to 20 percent of the votes in these areas. This is the so-called Solid North which Robredo’s supporters could prove to be a myth.

Central Luzon was also dominated by Marcos Jr. in 2016 but the size of the crowd that went to Robredo’s campaign rallies in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija would likely show a different outcome on May 9. Marcos Jr. is still expected to win in the region but Robredo will put up a decent fight and may win in some areas. The Bulacan governor’s support will certainly strengthen Robredo in Central Luzon.

Marcos Jr. also won in Metro Manila in 2016 but there’s a fat chance he will lose this time in the capital region. Local officials in Metro Manila have cast their lot with Marcos Jr. but there has been a huge wave of “Pink” support that could be difficult to overturn.

Taguig and Makati will definitely oppose Marcos Jr. and some local leaders might be surprised if their constituents will defy them and go with Robredo.

Cavite is an interesting province. Robredo lost in Cavite in 2016 but the endorsement of two of eight congressional districts, including National Unity Party (NUP) President Elpidio Barzaga, could boost her chances to cut down Marcos Jr.’s expected margin of victory.

Two NUP congressmen are now backing Robredo but three other NUP congressmen, including seventh district representative Crispin “Boying” Remulla, stuck with Marcos Jr. Marcos’ allies dominate the three remaining districts, including the Revillas.

There are not a lot of expected changes in other areas in the Visayas and Mindanao, except in the Davao region, where Robredo lost in 2016. She was a poor third behind Cayetano and Marcos Jr.

But the defection of the Partido Reporma team in Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur could help Robredo turn the tide of Marcos Jr.’s sweep in the Davao area.

Marcos Jr. is strengthened by his running mate’s support in the Davao region but he could only expect to win in Davao City, Davao Oriental, and Davao de Oro due to Duterte’s allies at the local level.

Robredo has momentum with about a month before the balloting on May 9. The defection of local leaders continues as Robredo’s campaign rallies are packing crowds.

Marcos Jr. may also have big rallies but the crowds there were only forced into attending, lured by cash and promises of winning in a raffle as well as bags of groceries.

In contrast, local leaders cannot deny that the crowds that went into the vice president’s rallies were genuine supporters who would spend on their food and transportation.

The genuine groundswell of support for Robredo is real. Local leaders fear they could not convince voters to support Marcos Jr. If they are really the representatives of the people, they will listen to the people or risk losing an election.

On the ground, the people behind Robredo’s “people councils” have been tirelessly campaigning for her, converting people to vote for her, sustaining supporters, and quietly telling people who are supporting Robredo to vote against Marcos Jr.’s allies, including incumbents who have not switched sides.

These are real threats to the traditional politicos – a tsunami of “pink” support on the ground that could convince more local leaders to defect to Robredo.