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.
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.