Benchmarking the Presidentials


Benchmarking ng Bayan: Exercise 0709-01

Updated: 07-22-09

To rom and Benign0s witty pieces, I add my two cents of BS.

Before the cart runs before the horse again, and it will (it is the Philippine elections you know, and weirder stuff has been known to happen), I will complete my matrix which I will use to sort out the positions of the presidential candidates. And from this matrix, I will select the candidate who has more in common with my preference. Of course, my preferences dictate that I select the candidate most fit for the job, not the one most likely to win it.

Actually, I have this nagging feeling that am already reading a lot of carts running before the horse.

Personal Benchmarks

I will do my due diligence and do my homework. I will scan, search, google, ask around for data and information about the Philippine presidential candidates. I will come up with a personal benchmark on where the candidates stand about the issues.

Candidates who don’t have clearly articulated positions will receive a lower score in my ranking system – and ultimately, my vote – and possibly a whole lot more of people.


Thus far, my matrix needs more information.  And it amazes me that despite the name recall, I have yet to hear the candidates various policy preferences on the key result areas that matter to me. Each KRA will have its weight. However, I have not shown the weights I have assigned to each KRA.

My personal preference is a candidate who:

  • Supports charter change, particularly removing the protectionist economic provisions. I am open to changing the term limits to the previous format – two terms; four years per term; no reelection after second term.
  • Approaches defense from a holistic point of view – that insurgencies thrive on poverty. Dry the oceans of poverty and insurgency dries like a fish out of water. The savings from the elimination of insurgency can then be redirected to upgrading our external defense capabilities.
  • Will prioritize education in terms of: a) increasing the number of classrooms and school buildings; b) increase the number/quality/compensation/timely release of wages of teachers; c) increased public-private sector collaboration in shaping the curriculum and coming up with new course offerings that not only increase the competitiveness of our graduates but of our economy as well.
  • Will give a strong push for entrepreneurship.
  • Who supports women’s reproductive rights.

Alternative Benchmarks

I am sure, other voters will have their own ranking system. A lot are known to evaluate based on emotional appeal. I define the “Emotional Appeal” evaluation methodology as one where the voters’ emotions towards the candidate define the positive or negative perception of the candidate. Candidates use the manipulation of the recipient’s emotions, rather than valid logic, to win a buy-off.

Also this kind of thinking may be evident in one who lets emotions and/or other subjective considerations influence one’s reasoning process. This kind of appeal to emotion is a type of red herring and encompasses several logical fallacies, including:

  • Appeal to consequences
  • Appeal to fear
  • Appeal to flattery
  • Appeal to pity
  • Appeal to ridicule
  • Appeal to spite
  • Wishful thinking

So, do not be surprised when the ads on TV will start pushing emotional buttons. That’s what the voters respond to, and if that gets the intended response, the candidate will roll the dice accordingly.

A an instance of an emotional appeal-based framework is presented in Table 2 – Emotional Appeal Benchmark.


Benchmarking the Personal Benchmarks

Knowing that I am not only the voter around town, and wanting to get a feel of what the chances are for any issues-oriented. I came up with another matrix that shows the most likely benchmark/meme that voter blocs will most likely resort to.

% of Total Voters Most Likely Benchmark
Mostly Issues-Oriented
Mostly Emotional Appeal
Mostly Emotional Appeal

With 93% of the voting population inclined to vote based on emotional appeal, I will not be surprised it will be deja vu all over again.

Hay buhay.

“Change” Politics in the Philippine Setting

The basic challenge of selling change, as far as Philippine elections is concerned  is to be able to convince the voting groups  in D&E to adopt an issues-oriented evaluation framework.

The Current or As-Is/State

I hypothesize (or I spin wheels) that:

1. 85% of the ABC voting group are Issues-Oriented, 15% prefer Emotional Appeal.

2. 25% of the D voting group are Issues-Oriented, 75% prefer Emotional Appeal.

3. 25% of the ABC voting group are Issues-Oriented, 75% prefer Emotional Appeal.

4. To have a substantial majority in a plurality, a candidate needs 40% of the voting population, or 16 million voters.


Based on these AS-IS assumptions. I make the following conclusion:

Even if all issues-oriented voters voted for just one candidate, 11,680,000 vote is not enough to reach the magic number of 40% or 16 million – the numbers which delivered the presidency to GMA.

Is the Poor Vote Really a Thinking Vote

In a recent study published in PCIJ – “The Poor Vote is a Thinking Vote”, the study asserts that

  • The poor ranked education, experience, platform, and track record as among the most important criteria for choosing candidates.
  • They do not necessarily have high regard for the wealthy and powerful. What they do have are idealistic notions of leadership, valuing qualities such as piety (makadiyos), helpfulness, sincerity, and responsibility.
  • Celebrities are not necessarily preferred by poor voters. Many said they value educational qualifications, but they were also suspicious about those with superior education. They said experience and good intentions more than compensate for a lack of college education.
  • The most import sources of influence in the choice of candidates among the poor are, in declining order: the media, the family, the church, and political parties. Surveys come in last on the list.

The study cites what Filipinos think are the qualities of a good leader:


The study pointed out the factors for selecting candidates:


All of the factors identified mainly push the emotional buttons and does not have anything to do with the policy directions in governance.

The starting point of any race being run intelligently is that ALL the candidates have the leadership qualities.

The differentiation lies in the directions where the candidate proposes to take the nation. The DE groups’ analysis of a candidate stops at the qualities evaluation stage and does not continue into the issues evaluation stage.

What am I going to do with a pious charming president who will take the economy back to the stone age?

The Desired State

To have a decent chance at winning, an Issues-Oriented candidate needs to convince more voters of the DE group to adopt an issues-oriented evaluation framework. Otherwise, he has a snowflake’s chance in hell. The desired state can be something similar to the one presented below.


Thus, a hypothetical desired state can be:

1. 85% of the ABC voting group are Issues-Oriented, 15% prefer Emotional Appeal.

2. 36% of the D voting group are Issues-Oriented, 64% prefer Emotional Appeal (preference for Emotional Appeal-based evaluation criteria down by 11% compared to As-Is).

3. 40% of the ABC voting group are Issues-Oriented, 60% prefer Emotional Appeal (preference for Emotional Appeal-based evaluation criteria down by 15% compared to As-Is).

Various mixes can be crafted, the bottom line is to be able to reach the magic number of 16 million – the number by which got the incumbent into the presidency.

Getting from the As-Is to the Desired State

Implementing a transition plan involves:

  • developing cross functional teams; engaged stakeholders
  • the right mix of solutions – grassroots activities complementing state sponsored activities
  • finalize a budget; develop KPI scorecard; acceptance of balanced scorecard
  • assign responsibilities for implementation; establish timelines for delivering results; establish oversight team
  • roll out and launch.

The specifics/tactics of the methodology will vary according to the specific circumstances of each KPI.


The As-Is state will bring in As-Is results – more of the same.

The Desired state will transform the evaluation criteria from one anchored on Emotional Appeal and replace it with an Issues-Oriented framework.

Dividends are expected to come from a change in evaluation methodology.  However, the change in evaluation methodology is not the end-all of the exercise. Rather, it marks the beginning of intelligent discourse to find true solutions to the pressing problems of the day.It is a tactical solution to a strategic challenge – changing the socio-economic mix/pyramid of Philippine society.

Beyond the sloganeering one ough to discern whether the candidate provides solutions that will lead to a fundamental changes in the mix of the voting population.


From a {narrow ABC and wide DE } to a {wide ABC and narrow DE}. By changing the fundamental socio-economic mix (growing the middle class, reducing the poorer class, change in attitudes and practices) an ideal desired state can then have more intelligent course as more affluent classes provide more information and more avenues for discussing the information.

Thus, under such desired state, even if the DE class voted in toto based on Emotional Appeal, it wouldn’t make much of a dent on the numbers of a candidate within an Issues-Oriented environment.


The ideal (to me of course) is that the Philippines has 86% of its voting population categorized under the BC group (aka a large middle class) with smaller numbers in the A and DE groups, and evaluation of candidates will primarily be Issues-Oriented across all voting groups.

So, Mister/Miss Candidate advise your groupies, Platform, plez, as a start.

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