Manila Standard : Into the lion’s den

27 January 2022

By Charlie V. Manalo | Manila Standard

“He was going to be slaughtered.”

Leading presidential contender, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas created quite a stir last week when he refused the invitation to guest in the show of prominent television talk show host Jessica Soho. The interview featured other presidential aspirants as well.

The reason cited by the Marcos camp, through his chief of staff and spokesman, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, is that they believe Soho is largely biased against the Marcoses, “and therefore, they believe her questions will just focus on negativity about BBM which the UniTeam dislike and will not subscribe as it hopes that the discourse in any forum about this coming elections must focus on how the aspiring presidents will solve the country’s lingering problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and what their plans are for the country to roll up from economic stagnation.”

Stressing that the 2022 elections could be the most important elections in our lifetime, Rodriguez said “that candidates like presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos should be expected to present what his programs and plans are for the country to move forward with his economic plans, vision on education and digital infrastructure, employment creation, ensuring food security through a robust agriculture, how to bring the cost of power more affordable and all the way to our national sovereignty.”

“These and other equally important aspects of an aspirant‘s preparedness to lead, ability to govern and capability to be president cannot be tested by his mere appearance on a show that has been perceived by us and our supporters as having previously displayed a preconceived judgment against the Marcoses,” Rodriguez furthered.

Expectedly, Soho’s television statement, GMA immediately issued a statement defending their talent, refuted the Marcos camp’s allegation that she is biased against the family of the late president.

Unfortunately, GMA failed to recognize we are now living in a digital world where someone’s past can easily be dug up. Just minutes after GMA’s statement was released, a video of Soho speaking before what appears to be a commencement exercise went viral on social media. In the said video, Soho was seen delivering a speech which betrays her biases against Martial Law, one of the issues being raised against the Marcoses.

Aside from Soho, her staff members Karl Anthony Camila and Marjory Pablo were found to be diehard Leni Robredo Supporters as betrayed by their profile pictures in their social media accounts which read “Let Leni Lead.”

To me, these justify BBM’s refusal to guest in Soho’s show. It was obvious he was being lured into a den filled with hungry lions. He was to be slaughtered.

BBM has every right to refuse guesting in any show. Soho and her staff can argue all they want they would make sure their line of questioning would be fair, but BBM cannot be comfortable guesting in a show where the writer, the producer and the host are all critical of him and are supporting other candidates. 

Let’s take my case. I also host a radio program, and in my program, I have never antagonized any of my guests. But in my column here in the Manila Standard. I have shown my biases against Robredo. I have been highly critical of her. Now, would she be comfortable guesting in my show? I doubt it.

I cannot invoke neutrality as there is no such thing. To be neutral is to show preference for the status quo or the prevailing mindset. And for BBM’s critics, the current mindset is their anti-Marcos narrative. And it’s bound to manifest in their handling of their talk show had BBM shown up.

BBM was right in refusing to guest on the Soho show. Anyway, as Rodriguez points out, Bongbong’s “duty is to the Filipino people and not to a particular TV show or program host,” and that they will continue with our way of communicating direct to the people in so many equally significant shows, platforms and forums where all the attendees are allowed to present their visions, plans and platforms freely, unfiltered and unhindered by any biases.”

**

The other day, I called up Malayang Quezon City president Edwin Rodriguez to get some reaction on the results of the Pulso ng Pilipino survey.

But more than a reaction to the survey results, I got a “scoop,” and exclusive info – BBM AND SARA WILL BE HOLDING THEIR PROCLAMATION RALLY ON VALENTINE’S DAY, FEBRUARY 14 IN QUEZON CITY TO BE HOSTED BY CONGRESSMAN MIKE DEFENSOR.

Yes, you read it here first. According to Rodriguez, they have filed for rally permits for Liwasang Aurora in Quezon Circle and Amoranto Stadium, as back up should the incumbent city officials again deny their request to use the Liwasang Aurora like what happened during the Quezon City BBM Motorcade last December.

However, sources within Malayang Quezon City bared they are seriously considering holding simultaneous events in both venues and then march to another venue, culminating to a grand salubong.

It’s MD (Marcos-Duterte) for MD (Mike Defensor) on February 14.

**

Back to the Pulso survey results.  

According to Ed Malay, executive director of The Center, a changing of the guards in Quezon City is possible with Defensor on the verge of ending the 30-year reign of the Belmonte Family in this premier city.

Based on the figures of the non-commissioned Pulso ng Pilipino survey conducted by The Center on Jan. 10-16, 2022, Defensor who is also a successful businessman who operates the Pax Libera Mining is the choice of 53% of the respondents in Quezon City who were asked who they will vote for if the elections were held on the dates the survey was conducted.

Some 39% said they will vote for Maria Josefina Tanya Go Belmonte the incumbent Mayor who is an archeologist while the other mayoralty bets received five per cent among them and three per cent said they are still undecided and don’t know whom to vote for on May 9, 2022.

In the race for the vice mayoralty, veteran Winnie Castelo is leading by 26% with Castelo posting 48% as against the incumbent Vice Mayor Gian Sotto who can only count on 22% of those who responded to the survey. Some 15%  went to the other vice mayoralty candidates and a similar 15% said they are still undecided. 

According to Malay, Defensor is a direct beneficiary of BBM’s strength. As many mayors throughout the country are now forming a beeline at the campaign headquarters of the Uniteam, the problem that the Belmonte administration now faces is the large number of voters who are switching sides and joining the BBM-Sara Uniteam. 

This seldom happens. Usually, national candidates tap strong local candidates to ensure they get a share of their votes in their respective localities. But in BBM’s case, it’s the opposite, the local candidates are trooping to BBM in the hope they won’t lose the votes from the PFP standard bearer’s local supporters.

Based on the Pulso ng Pilipino nationwide survey, Malay said Marcos leads with 51% followed by Mayor Isko Moreno with 14%. Vice President Leni Robredo is third with 11%, Sen. Manny Pacquiao is the choice of 10% with Sen. Ping Lacson with 8%. Ka Leody had 1% while Ernie Abella and Bert Gonzales were credited with .25% apiece.

So why venture in a lion’s den or even go near it?