IF CANDIDATES DECLARE SOMO
(Suspension of Mudslinging Operations)
Vice President Jejomar Binay, standard bearer of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) in the 2016 presidential derby, was ahead of the pack when he called for a ceasefire on mudslinging, character assassination and disinformation as candidates unleash their propaganda machineries ahead of campaign period for the May national elections.
Binay, the current front runner in surveys for presidential preference, made his ceasefire call as part of his Christmas message.
It was a timely call as the nation was celebrating Christmas when love not hate was supposed to fill the air.
Binay’s call was that politicians should respect the sanctity and mood of the season, and allow peace to reign even in the political front.
Peace be with you! Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!
During this time of the ceasefie, the political guns are silent, there will not be talks about corruption, incompetence, Yolanda, Mamasapano, Laglag Bala, Tuwad na Daan, summary execution, murder, Pope Francis, Brenda, American Girl, DQ, or whatever that hurts!
Binay was like saying that if the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the communist New People’s Army (NPA) declared a holiday on armed confrontations during the Christmas season with a Suspension Of Military Operations (SOMO), why would politicians not declare a ceasefire on dirty tricks with their own SOMO (Suspension of Mudslinging Operations)?
Binay’s plea was understandable: throughout year 2015, he was the target of a massive and vicious black propaganda operation clearly purposed to derail his presidential bid.
Philippine elections, or for that matter any election in wherever part of the world, are not known to be without political guns firing dirt.
But as they say, It’s More Fun in the Philippines!
Binay’s ceasefire call, that should extend beyond the Christmas season, may break a tradition that makes Philippine elections an exciting political exercise.
Binay’s plea has apparently rubbed on other candidates who suffered the sad fate he had gone through and are also objects of the vicious smear drive.
Independent presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe has called on her rivals to stop engaging in black propaganda challenging them to present their political platforms instead.
The camp of another presidential candidate, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the PDP/Laban has called on supporters to temper their attacks on rivals advising them to zero in their campaign on selling Duterte as the most viable candidate for the presidency.
Vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has also appealed to candidates to focus on issues of importance and on political platforms and not on mudslinging and character assassination.
It is understandable why Binay should suggest a ceasefire on black propaganda. He has just survived a most vicious smear campaign.
An election without dirty campaigning will greatly benefit Binay, who absorbed the biggest volume of black propaganda last year as the political fever infected politicians and their propagandists and unloaded mud from their trick bags to hurl at rivals.
Binay was target of a nearly year-round black propaganda operation as he was investigated by the Senate Blue Ribbon Sub-committee over allegations of corruption while he was still mayor of Makati City.
Binay had described the Senate probe and the black propaganda as “demolition by perception” out to derail his presidential bid; blaming the attack on Mar Roxas, the presidential candidate of the ruling Liberal Party of President Benigno Aquino.
He refused to attend hearings of the Senate anti-graft committee to answer the accusations, saying that he would rather face the false charges in the courts.
The front-runner in early surveys for presidential preference, Binay’s ratings would crash as the allegations of corruption were hurled at him and members of his family.
Binay admits that the black propaganda caused the slide in his survey ratings.
Binay’s political base, however, was not rattled and has remained intact despite the accusations. In the latest surveys, Binay had bounced back to lead the pack.
The Vice President is in the same footing as Marcos and Poe, who had to parry off widespread reports that she would be kicked out of the 2016 derby with a final disqualification by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). Her candidacy already junked by two divisions of the poll body, Poe has appealed her case to the Supreme Court but reports of her eventual disqualification persists even as the High Court has issued a Temporary Restraining Order )TRO) against the Comelec decisions that she lacked the residency and citizenship requirements to run for President mandated by the Constitution.
The reports had a fatal impact on her survey ratings, and dislodged her from the top that she had previously ruled.
Marcos, running for vice president with Senator Miriam Santiago as president under the People’s Reform Party, is himself victim of a tsunami of vile scud missiles.
But his case is different. The son of an unlamented dictator does not need black propagandists to destroy his bid. The Filipino people may forget some of their past but not the more than two decades of suffering under the dictatorship of his father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. The public consciousness now is that it would be too much of a gamble with democracy at stake if the Marcos junior is elected into such a sensitive office as the vice presidency. The blood runs in his veins. “Never Again” is the warning slogan that aptly describes the Pinoy psyche dreading the return of martial law if the junior is elected as the next powerful persona in the country.
What about Mar Roxas and Santiago?
Roxas, fingered by all the political camps as behind the dirt and mud flying around to mear his rivals black, is not spared from the special ops. But that is a natural, Roxas being an administration toy.
Roxas and Binay could be sharing the same volume of fire.
But Roxas himself helped earn his own misery by firing dirt early on at tough-talking Duterte, who minces no words in cussing at anything that rattles his nerves: drugs and drug lords, the corrupt, criminals, Aquino, Roxas, traffic jams, etc., etc., etc., including even the Lord of the Vatican.
Roxas had a just-ended long-running verbal war with Duterte, after the Liberal Party candidate reportedly unleashed one of his propagandists to peddle the dirty yarn that Duterte would not run for president due to cancer of the throat.
Roxas would also further make his situation worse.
He woke up the dark side of the mayor with whom he previously had a cordial relations, by twitting Duterte’s claim of Davao City as the most peaceful city in the Philippines (a myth, according to Roxas), and transformed the arena of his conflict with Duterte into an octagon of a brutal UFC mixed martial arts championship fight.
Roxas’ verbal scrimmage with the cussing Duterte escalated into a challenge to a slapping, boxing and gun duels.
Sadly, these physical confrontations did not happen and denied the Pinoys the spectacle of witnessing what could have been the most exciting side events of the 2016 election.
DAVAO DEATH SQUAD
Duterte — who claimed to have killed 1,700 criminals and the godfather of the deadly, sweet shooting .45-caliber-armed motorcycle-riding Davao Death Squad (DDS) blamed for hundreds of summary executions of scums of the earth in Davao City, and who vowed, if he becomes the President, to dump bodies of criminals in Manila Bay for the fishes to feast on — himself put closure to what could have been a local version of World War III.
Backing off from a physical encounter with Roxas he called as a “Wharton undergraduate” to belittle Roxas’ claim that he was a graduate of the prestigious and famous American school of business, Duterte said a slapping and boxing match would be fatal to Roxas who also could not hold a gun in a shooting duel.
If Binay suffered from a tornado of mudslinging from the Roxas camp, so did Roxas for picking Duterte in a one-on-one battle of grit and brawn.
Duterte’s thousands of supporters invaded mainstream and social media to defend their candidate with Roxas playing the hapless sitting duck in a shooting range.
But Duterte may only be one of Roxas’ worries. He is getting flak as a weakling and a clone of his president who has a public acceptance and performance rating as thin as his hair.
With the situation he is in, Roxas, the richest presidential candidate,cannot hope that his money can buy him victory.
Like Marcos, Roxas has less need for black propaganda operators to scuttle his presidential bid. Results of surveys for presidential preference have permanently given him the franchise over the bottom.
Roxas himself is also committing suicide, digging his own grave and banging the nails to his political coffin, with his continued espousal as his agenda if elected into office, the discredited and unlamented Tuwad na Daan (Straight Path) program (Tuwad na Daan or Crooked Path, to Roxas’ critics) of his boss, President Aquino.
The fifth presidential candidate, Santiago, also may not need mudslingers. She is already happily enthroned as the “next” President, emerging on top of the heap in all surveys—in social media. Unfortunately, the coming election will not be won in Facebook but in the polling precincts.
Roxas and Santiago, who have a fierce rivalry over the bottom of surveys of Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia, will be inconsequential dots who will not matter and reduced to ants in the battle of the giants in the coming election.
Binay has denied the accusations against him and his family and described the Senate investigation and the black propaganda as “demolition by perception” out to derail his presidential bid.
He fingered the administration of President Aquino and the camp of Roxas as behind the smear drive.
The Senators running the Senate investigation are Malacanang allies out to gain pogi points with President Aquino in their ambition to be the vice presidential candidate of the Liberal Party and fired up by their own political agenda for the 2016 elections with the media mileage they would get from coverage of the Senate proceedings.
Binay was correct. Senator Alan Peter Cayetano and Senator Antonio Trillanes, Binay’s chief inquisitors in the Senate probe, are now running for vice president. But karma came into play. After being in the short list of President Aquino’s choice for Roxas’ running mate, Cayetano and Trillanes were dumped for ho-hum CamSur congresswoman Leni Robredo.
With their political agenda in hounding Binay unmasked, the credibility of Cayetano and Trillanes, if they hurl issues of corruption against Binay now, would be unbelievable. They are toothless barking dogs.
Public interest over the Senate investigation and the allegations of corruption against Binay had stopped after the Blue Ribbon Sub-committee wrapped up its investigation.
With the propaganda value of the allegations of corruption squeezed dry, Binay’s ranking in the surveys shoot up in December to place him again in the front seat.
We agree with the observation that Filipinos have reached political maturity and would vote in May their next leaders on the basis of their political platforms and their visions for the country and not on the ferocity of character assassination.
This observation appears true based on recent events and results of surveys.
While Duterte and Roxas were after each other’s throat in a spectacle widely played up nationwide in print, radio and television, Binay kept a distance away from the battle and silently roamed the countryside to present his political platform.
When result of the latest surveys were out, Binay bounced back to recapture the lead.
With Poe DQed and Roxas and Santiago reduced to ants in the battle of the elephants, only Duterte and Binay would probably be left standing as real contenders to the Presidency.
!f candidates, as wished by Poe, Marcos and Binay, declare a SOMO (Suspension of Mudslinging Operations) during the whole campaign period, we see a battle not of the dirty kind but a battle of political platforms — between Binay and Duterte.