Sat. Jan 29th, 2022

I was a cub reporter but before I could become a full-time journalist, I first became a public relations practitioner.

Toyota magnate Ricardo Silverio Sr. organized Reach Advertising by recruiting Noli Vasallo and Mart del Rosario from Philprom, and Vic Villafuerte from Admakers Dentsu.

Oscar San Pedro and I were hired to help Del Rosario run the PR department. Besides assisting with the needs of the Silverio Group of Companies, I was primarily hired to service the account of Nemesio Yabut who was running for mayor of Makati. My credential for being the youth campaign manager of the 1969 reelection campaign of President Ferdinand Marcos, made a lot of difference.

I guess I could never quite made it out of the Silverio Group, because in 1976, I finally became Vice President of one of the Toyota franchise dealers, a partnership between Don Juan Aquino of Bataan and Don Ricardo.

Making Autosphere, franchise dealer of the year for four consecutive years, was I guess not sheer marketing aptitude, because my background doing public relations, I guess served as a great plus, even when ten years after, I will ship out to Washington DC to serve as a diplomat in our Philippine Embassy.      

In PR, we never talk about ourselves, but I have to give this background because I want to tell you guys that when we start publicizing our ideas, outside of our clientele, there is a mean business involved.

In this case, to expose to the general public of how a monumental swindle is being perpetrated by an erstwhile celebrated public official turned goon in our society.

But Dr. Dante A. Ang, Chairman Emeritus of the Manila Times, beat me to it.

In a recent opinion-editorial, Ang said “the petition to cancel the certificate of candidacy of former senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. is a cheap public relations stunt.

Dr. Ang gives President Duterte a copy of his book.

PR playbook: Black Propaganda

“Frame the issue; define your opponent. That’s the standard PR playbook.

“Never mind that the petition has no merit and the petitioners know that they will lose their case. After all, the aim is to frame the issue, and define the candidate by feeding the media with sensational stories.

Ang said this technique is called “feeding the beast.”

“…Given media’s propensity to publish bang-up stories, the ‘issues’ are then ‘framed’, shifting the campaign narratives from the relevant to gutter issues while, at the same time, defining the younger Marcos by putting the onus on him for the transgressions of his father,” he adds.

The chairman-emeritus walks us through the devilish scheme.

“This is a form of negative campaigning”, Ang says “often resorted to by losing candidates who are desperate to improve their ratings at the polls and who can’t find an effective communications handle that will lift their public standing.”

Another name for this negative campaigning is “black propaganda.”

He continues, “The petition filed by a group of alleged Martial Law victims before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) fits into this category.

“Notice how the petition was framed. The petition was full of invectives against Marcos that are totally irrelevant and have absolutely nothing to do with the merit of the case.”

The chairman quotes the petitioner’s counsel, “Bongbong Marcos, ang kapal ng mukha mo naman. Bago ka mag-ambisyon na maging pangulo ng kinawawa ninyong ating bayan, isauli mo muna ang ninakaw na bilyon-bilyong dolyares ng iyong mga kawatang magulang mula sa ating taong bayan.”

“That’s the rationale for their disqualification complaint against Marcos?” he asks.

“There are three ways black propaganda stories are employed. One is brazen lies by concocting events, people, places involving an opponent. The more outlandish, the better.

“The other is ‘half-truths’. The author cherry picks and presents only the dark facts that matter to him without mention of the more substantive and relevant data.

“Still, another is “guilt by association.” Here, the author fuses the innocent with a demonized individual — dead or alive.”

At this point, Ang makes an important precaution, “Unfortunately, black propaganda, if left unchecked, often works. This is especially effective on voters who vote on emotion, not reason.”

Carpio taking us for fools

The chairman-emeritus explains, “Filing disqualification cases against competitors during election season is old hat. Justice Antonio Carpio should know better that the petition against Bongbong Marcos was characterized by “half-truths and half lies” and has no legal leg to stand on.

“For all his appearance of a ‘bleeding heart’, of being a ‘constitutionalist’, or ‘of trying to uphold the law’, he is being hypocritical.

“Carpio should have been more transparent. He should have forewarned his viewers during his TV interview that he is in opposition, a leading member of 1Sambayan who has endorsed Vice President Maria Leonor Leni Robredo for president and is campaigning for her.”

Carpio has however momentarily succeeded in shifting the narratives away from the more relevant issues of the day putting the “onus” on Marcos Jr. for the past transgressions of the father.

The complaint also revisited Bongbong’s past case with the Bureau of Internal Revenue for his failure to file his income tax returns (ITRs) for the years 1982 to 1985.

The Court of Appeals had overturned Marcos’ conviction by the lower court and instead, merely imposed a fine of P32,000 for his failure to file his ITR, not for tax evasion. This highly important decision of the higher court was conveniently omitted in the complaint.

Dr. Ang says Carpio’s spin was “Marcos, guilty of tax evasion” when the truth is, he was found “Guilty for failing to file ITR” as the Court of Appeals had ruled.

Disqualification not the objective

The chairman’s take is that Carpio and his petitioners are not interested in disqualifying Bongbong because in the first place, because they know he cannot be disqualified.

Their sole purpose in bringing a case against Bongbong, he adds, was to prevent the millennials from voting for him in the May 22 election.

He thinks by the calculation of the opposition, it can win the millennials through a “hate and divide” campaign by revisiting the Martial Law years with the attendant excesses of the period and by stoking people’s fears and tragedies of the past.

Carpio a political hack

Dr. Ang strongly asserts that Carpio’s opinion against Marcos should be viewed with skepticism or not seriously:

“Carpio for all his appearances is not an “amicus curiae.” He is not and cannot be objective. He is a leading member of the 1Sambayan, an opposition and a certified anti-Marcos diehard. His disdain for the Marcoses is legendary. He is rumored to be the chief architect of the disqualification case filed by the Martial Law victims before the Comelec.

“He is nothing more than a leading member of the opposition (Robredo bloc) masquerading as a resource person.

“He is a former Supreme Court associate justice who morphed into a political hack. Sad!

Unsolicited advice to the candidates

The chairman leaves this wisdom to the players:

“Rein in your attack dogs. Avoid making a martyr of your opponent. Attack your opponent. Throw in the kitchen sink if you will.

“But no black propaganda, please, and stick to the issues of the day.

“Promote your agenda. Talk to us. Talk to the people.

“Explain your positions on issues like health care, unemployment, poor quality education, miserable telco services (slow and very expensive internet, unreliable mobile calls), the West Philippine Sea, the coconut levy fund, ailing businesses, among other life and death concerns of the people.

“Enough of black propaganda. It is an assault on our intelligence.

Guilt by affinity

Dr. Dante Ang summarizes Carpio’s mind:

“Frame the issue (“Good vs Evil”), define your opponent (visit the sins of the father on the son and the tax case), change the national conversation by revisiting the past (Martial Law), demonize the dead (ill-gotten wealth), stoke it, employ the media, trigger a debate, bait Marcos into the fray, put him on the defensive.

“By their calculation, this strategy will cost Bongbong considerable votes from the millennials and the undecided. Will it?

Conclusion

After this rare exhaustive display of masterful analysis and prognosis, the chairman asks the question, “Will Carpio’s strategy cost Bongbong considerable votes from the millennials and the undecided? Will Bongbong bite?”

I guess this is where I re-enter the picture.

It is amazing that despite the mammoth, spontaneous and energetic showing of the people in in the caravans and public meetings of the Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte, many still do not understand what has befallen the present Philippine political scenario.

The majority of the people, registering up to 60% in the surveys, are unabasedly showing they no longer tolerate bullshit governance and are clamoring for systemic change.

This does not hold only true to the candidates that the political Parties have fielded, but on the electoral process as well.

They demand that the candidates tell them as straight as possible where they intend to bring the nation, what specific programs will deliver intended destinations, when and how in time and motion those are to be accomplished, and why they are the right force to bring those to reality.

The performance of Bongbong is both local and national governance is of public record, and while Sara has yet to occupy a national post, her achievements as city mayor is at par if not better than her peers nationwide.

The weighing scales have also shifted from freedoms and rights to actual deliverables to improve the life of many in our population and upholding the preeminence of national interests over entitlements. 

The 2016 presidential elections actually ended an era of the power brokers, the boot lickers, the easy-lifers, in short, the “yellows”.

By kicking out the Liberal Party, the electorate actually booted out 30 years of incompetence and decadence not just in our politics but social life.

Rodrigo Roa Duterte read the people’s message correctly in the overwhelming 40% mandate, with the people giving an overwhelming lead of 39% over his opponent in the 2016 presidential elections.

His key legacies are safer streets and build-build-build.

This is why he has the highest approval rating in our history.

He saw that the people have birthed “meritocracy” in the country’s governance.

The yardstick for the 2022 elections is even higher.

The reason why Bongbong Marcos is being surveyed anywhere between 49% to 68% is because he has followed Dr. Dante Ang’s formula.

The former senator had an early “eureka” moment that the establishment will not give his protest for vice presidency any fair deal, so early on, he took his case directly to the people.

While his closest adversary chose to cook “lugaw”, he has already published almost 200 vlogs to-date, primarily directed at the millennials.

The man has become so transparent, he has successfully defined himself, way ahead of the filing for certificates of candidacy, why he should be the next president of the Philippines.

This is why I agree with Dr. Ang, that the disqualification cases against Senator Marcos are an insult to our intelligence.

“Not to be taken with a pinch of salt.”

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