President Rody survived the dirty PR onslaught
posted 23-May-2016  ·  
4,139 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

After observing last March 4 the spontaneity with which the Tabaco City crowd swelled in a matter of minutes to welcome candidate Rodrigo Duterte, I had since entertained no doubts that he was the man to beat, even if the May 9 presidential race was still months away. My doubts instead were on the motive, integrity and objectivity of the poll surveys and media coverage which from the start had consistently positioned him as a laggard in the presidential run, way behind Vice President Binay, Sen. Grace Poe and Liberal Party stalwart Mar Roxas. Obviously the well-oiled and well-funded media campaigns of rivals, which Duterte unfortunately did not have, was working against him  since nothing was noticed by the national media about the almost hysterical crowds that welcomed him in Albay and elsewhere in the country.  

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Thus when I wrote in this space (March 13 issue titled The Duterte Magnet) about the magnet-like appeal of Duterte the candidate to ordinary Filipino folks, it did not amaze me to find follow-up Internet items posted from many places in the country, most of them describing Duterte as a virtual crowd drawer in campaign sorties. The pollsters must have dismissed the huge crowd turnout as one parameter of their surveys. The paid poll surveys, I suppose, were showing their true missions for their client–candidates: ignore, if not marginalize, Duterte’s growing popularity and winnability. Paid media was just as disgusting, pummeling the Davao City mayor with expletives for every joke and cracks that come out of his mouth even if in true context they were merely verbal dramatics meant to stoke the sagging morale of the Filipino electorate. It looked like certain media elements were with the Duterte bandwagon purposely to look for oral errors from the tough-talking mayor and have it quickly passed on as bad tabloid headlines. This kind of media behaviour is a part of what we call dirty PR operations that are now accepted phenomena in Philippine journalism especially during political campaigns.

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But luck was on Duterte’s side. No amount of media bashing can detach or isolate him from the Filipino electorate so that the point came when the media and the surveys could no longer hide the bulge of Duterte’s acceptability. A woman columnist of the Philippine Star even showed her disgust by openly questioning why TV networks were not showing visuals of the size of the crowds that were constantly showing up in Duterte rallies. She suggested some unethical practices in journalism were in the works against the Davaeno candidate. The survey firms were just as disappointing as they were suspiciously choosy. Had they included market vendors, taxi drivers, tricycle drivers and their organized TODAs, the vacationing OFWs and just everybody in their workplaces, the earlier surveys would have indicated a not-so-dismal but rather a fair fighting chance for Rody Duterte. But the pollsters went their way fixated on the Duterte’s rivals. Fate must have intervened at the precise moment. Few weeks before the elections, the survey firms were already racing with each other in releasing new surveys with Rody Duterte already on top. Obviously the truth that can no longer be concealed. The survey firms were already fighting for   survival lest they lose their credibility and fairness, and more important to them, their future business come another election.

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To make the long story short, it can be said that the overwhelming 6-million vote margin of Duterte over his closest rivals was a lesson for us not to be gullible and too reliant on surveys. Many surveys are paid political engagements. Almost always candidates contract survey firms and spend on them with hope that the results will be positive. Any candidate would surely spend bigger if the survey could be custom-made.

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All these thus explained why Duterte was deemed not to be in the running in the early part of the campaign. But he ignored the media and survey odds and patiently followed destiny. He behaved in his natural ways and his handlers did not contrive any superficial image to boost his competitiveness in the presidential derby. What he is was what the majority of Filipino voters got. Duterte, an authentic, humble, yet forceful Davaoeno had survived the onslaught of a hostile paid media and the smart machination of paid pollsters.

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Tribune editor Fernan Gianan and I were finally served subpoenas by the Legazpi City prosecutor’s office to respond to the P15 million libel complaint filed by power firm SUWECO through the ACCRA law firm over an article I had on the behaviour of the FICELCO board and some Catanduanes personalities relative to the problematic power situation in the province. I guess Fernan and I would just have to go back once more to Journalism 101 for our defense. Tribune legal columnist Atty. Romulo Atencia will be our counsel.

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ROSULO welcomes comments via : rosmanlangit@yahoo.com    

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