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Jan 22

The best defense is a political offensive

Talk in political circles is that the various candidates are salivating over purchasing the rights to what could be The Mother of All Jingles. If they can be bought, the use of it promises a massive advantage in the senatorial race.

Last Saturday, the Daily Tribune published an intriguing story on a closed-door strategy session held at the Palace. Apparently, the meeting was accidentally broadcast over the government radio station!

[Ermita’s] orders… to all public information officers (PIO) …. was accidentally aired over government’s radio station dzRB yesterday.

“The image of the President is at stake in these elections,” Ermita told the PIOs… attending the close-door workshop organized by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA)…

Ermita intimated that no expense would be spared for this massive election propaganda, saying Malacañang is ready to tap and hire well-known commercial directors to produce television ads that would create a strong impact on the public, and with reports similar to the media hype created by the boxing matches of Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao as well as the TV programs, Pinoy Big Brother and Philippine Idol.

“We need to be more aggressive and more proactive. We need to manage media, and not the other way around. And we need to dig deep into our creative spirits and be resourceful enough to get the right message through and across. Do we need a media director for each project, much like a director of a movie or a musical concert to get people’s attention? You tell us after this day is over,” Ermita said.

The Palace aide also admitted at the workshop that the public response to the “achievements of President Arroyo” has been “lukewarm” and “negative,” adding that the public has reacted negatively to these “achievements.”

“Government manages only a few applauses here and there; most of the time, the halls are silent. As public information officers, it will be your responsibility to get our people to heartily applaud those messages. Instead of applause, we get survey results that speak of people’s dissatisfaction toward government, all because of media’s penchant for what sells — politicking, political personalities and political controversies,” Ermita stressed.

Ermita said that the fate of the administration candidates, especially in the Senate slot depends on how the public perceives the governance and leadership of Mrs. Arroyo and that it is necessary to step-up public —  awareness on the achievements of the administration.

“The fate of these officials in May, depends on how well the people perceive governance. How well the people see the President. The image of the President is at stake here. While the President is not seeking elections or reelection because this is a midterm election, perhaps it will not be difficult for the people to accept the results of the elections since this will be based on the performance of the President, the performance of her government,” Ermita said.

Ermita told the PIOs that the Palace aims for an 8-4 slot in the Senate…

On the part of the Cabinet, Ermita said Cabinet officials must hold regular press conferences and even visit universities and colleges…

“All Cabinet members and their respective agencies are to actively lead in stepping up the dissemination to the citizenry of the effective socio-economic reforms, enhanced pro-poor programs and evident economic gains, specifically those brought about under the Medium-Term Development Plan and the 10-Point Legacy Agenda. All Cabinet members, together with their officials, should continue to hold press conferences to ensure the proper dissemination of the government’s programs, efforts and achievements,” he said.

“All Cabinet members are also enjoined to visit State universities and colleges to inform the students, faculty, and staff of the economic gains primarily brought about by the socio-economic reforms initiated by the government, and to encourage their active participation in meeting the socio-economic targets,” Ermita added.

Comprehensive! Over the weekend I had a chance to exchange scuttlebutt with well-informed people on the other side of the political fence. Their reading is that the President has given up on the Senate and is devoting her energies to building a solid majority in the House. The strategy, then, is to take the fight to every district with a pro-impeachment congressman, and to defeat such congressmen. If possible, while eliminating anyone who dared oppose her, she will also try to build a new majority composed of Kampi congressmen. The only difficulty is that the President is unpopular in Luzon, to the extent that even local races are being affected.

However, while the Visayas and Mindanao don’t equal Luzon in terms of congressional seats and voters, they can knock out opposition leaders there. Suspend first and ask -or face- questions later. The various groupings of local officials, though, will be hard-put to prove if they have the clout to deliver national votes from congressman upwards to the President.

The weekend also saw rumors of the President being booed during an Il Divo concert. Reyna Elena and An OFW in Hong Kong cover the incident pretty thoroughly. The best I’ve been able to ascertain is one source, whose mother was at the concert, and who said there was some when it was announced the concert would start late, but “whether,” as my source put it, “it was due to the delay of the concert or dislike of [the President] is hard to ascertain.” A journalist who was there said there was no booing: “People muttered, but no booing.”

MindaNews reports that Davao City mayor Duterte is being considered for the position of Secretary of National Defense. Manila Times lists possible candidates for the vacancy in the Supreme Court. One vacancy the President’s in no hurry to fill: the Comelec.

A million Filipinos due to leave this year, but not for Nigeria.

Pura Santillan-Castrense passes away; a distinguished Filipina.

My column for today is, Half a People Power (see ExpectoRant’s reaction).

Politically, Amando Doronila says the administration made a big mistake by throwing its weight around in Iloilo. This is the sort of political behavior that negates news of the stockmarket booming.

Ducky Paredes makes a good point: the term “third force” is a throwback to a different era. But even he points out the instinct of most voters is to think in pro- and con- terms. I think news items that say a “third force” is well, gathering force (endorsed, for example, by today’s Inquirer editorial), shouldn’t be ignored, but I do think everyone for it should shut up about it, until the actual slate can be announced. The idea will only be as good as the composition of an alternative slate.

Dan Mariano says despite public opinion being hostile to the administration (at least in vote-rich Luzon, from what I hear), the opposition is in a Catch-22 situation:

The general consensus seems to be that the May polls will be bloody. If our worst fears come to pass, out the window will go whatever investor confidence the country has generated thus far.

Similarly in peril are the policies of fiscal restraint, which have led to a reduction in the budgetary deficit. Suspicious eyes are now cast on the administration of President Arroyo whose ability to complete her term would depend on the outcome of the congressional elections.

If the opposition manages to gain enough seats in the House of Representatives, expect it to launch a third bid to impeach her. All it needs are 79 congressmen to endorse the impeachment complaint, and automatically the complaint goes to the Senate. If the Senate retains its oppositionist bent, there is a good chance that an impeachment trial would end in a conviction.

The temptation, therefore, is great for the ruling coalition to pull out all the stops as it tries to hold on to the House and keep the contrarian senators at bay. Such an effort will require money, lots of money, which observers fear would be sourced from state coffers – in the process, bloating the budgetary deficit. Back to square one.

The opposition, on the other hand, has to dig deep into its depleted pockets so the bulk of its war chest will have to come from big businessmen.

Here the opposition faces a quandary. Big businessmen have been the main beneficiaries of the economic turnaround. Would they be willing to risk it all by helping the President’s foes gain control of both congressional chambers?

An interesting article from an educational professional: Juan Miguel Luz on the “English first” policy.

In the blogosphere, Screenshots has some kind words for Filipino bloggers; he also points to Walk With Us, a blog that discusses the Malaysian’s blogosphere’s wrestling with cases filed against bloggers in that country.

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  1. Jeg

    ibig sabihin non, kung nandaya si marcos, eh di dapat pala si arturo tolentino ang pumalit, imbes na si Cory?

    That’s correct. If it werent for the revolution, Tolentino shouldve been president. But the revolutionary government did away with the 1973 constitution and with it the laws on succession. To get rid of the laws of succession would require another revolutionary government to do away with the laws on succession.

    the right way, the fair way is once natanggal si Arroyo sa malacanang (because she was never elected to the office to begin with), noli becomes ACTING president and help prepare for the special elections.

    I suppose you could make a case for that. However Congress convened as election canvassers and proclaimed her president. Due process would have to establish that she indeed cheated. The Garci tapes are useless for a full-blown trial. The boxes should be opened and the certificates examined and that costs money. AND the Supreme Court already declared Susan Roces–FPJ’s widow, for crying out loud–couldnt pursue the fraud case, which just means nobody could since FPJ is dead. So the reality is, GMA is legally the president, and she needs to be impeached and convicted and Noli becomes president til 2010 unless he resigns.

  2. cvj

    So the reality is, GMA is legally the president…- Jeg

    Which is not the same as saying that she is the legitimate President. This is one of those situations where reality is ahead of legal fiction. For its own sake, the law must catch up. Since the law cannot turn to itself for support, the people have to act. If not, then it will not be worth the paper it’s written on.

  3. Jeg

    For its own sake, the law must catch up.

    To quote Samuel L. Jackson, aint that the m*&!@#fu%^#ing truth. We have to start with that SC decision barring Susan Roces from pursuing the fraud case. Electoral fraud is a crime against the state and not against a person. Every Filipino is a party of interest in a case like that.

  4. rego

    but since they know they’re going to get clobbered nationally. hanggang House seat na lang sila.—

    but then bottomline is how to win and keep the presidency… so Gloria is still more goal oriented and has a wining startegy…

    will JV win a senate seat? I doubt it so much. The initial reaction to him is just soo cold…..

  5. Chucky

    rego,

    “will JV win a senate seat? I doubt it so much. The initial reaction to him is just soo cold….”

    Well, if Loi and Jinggoy can win, I can’t see why JV won’t. I don’t think JV is particulary more reviled and hated than Jinggoy.

  6. The Ca t

    from The C at: Your honor, suspicion alone does not make the person guilty.

    We’re not talking about guilt, C at. We’re talking about trust. We’ve entrusted these people with our hard-earned money but they screwed us. We’re talking about a “fool me once” type of scenario as cvj said. When we hear Ermita suggesting to the propaganda officers that no expense will be spared, and remember the last time they financed their campaign, I dont need a full blown court case to conclude that I dont trust these people one bit.
    ===================================================
    And I am not about trust. I am not even suggesting to trust them. As I have said, it helps to be vigilant since the people concerned would have second thoughts doing what’s accused of them.

    I am trying to be legalese here. Suspicions, accusations alone would not make a person murderer or criminal. We have to prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

  7. UPn student

    jeg… To make more precise the rule of succession when there is an illegitimate, you’ll need a con-con or a SC decision. Which one would you trust?

  8. Jeg

    To make more precise the rule of succession when there is an illegitimate, you’ll need a con-con or a SC decision. Which one would you trust?

    Not an SC decision. Not that I dont trust them. It’s just not their job to make laws. Any of the other procedures will do: PI, Con-ass, or Con-con. Id prefer the con-ass. It’s faster. The weak link in all of this is Congress. *IF* Congress discovers anomalies before proclaiming a winner, what happens? So the Congress as a con-ass should be tasked to fix itself.

    GMA didnt grab the presidency on her own. She had the help of Congress which was supposed to see to it that the elections were free from anomalies and as a body, they concluded it was and proclaimed her winner making her standing as president legal, that is, it satisfied the requirements of the law.

  9. cvj

    GMA didnt grab the presidency on her own. -Jeg

    And she is holding on to it with the tacit support of the elite and the middle class. Such complicity does not go unnoticed.

  10. rego

    And why is JV is backing out? Im sure no one from their is camp woudl admit that he is really has no change of winning. Im very sure……

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