CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/08 November) — Remember two or so weeks ago when the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee was in session to highlight more alleged corruption in Makati while the Vice President was in General Santos City making headlines of his own?
Both events presented a glimpse of the 2016 campaign season—with the Pimentel-Cayetano-Trillanes triumvirate serving as vanguards and drum-beater gunning for attention, ratings, and electoral favor.
They milk the headlines, questing for political pay-dirt, while the object of their enterprise takes evasive action—like the one in General Santos where Jojo got to firm up absentee congressman Paquiao’s support as well as make political points by publicly eating with his bare hands.
More or less the same spectacle took place the other day when the entire Blue Ribbon Committee convened to await the appearance of the elusive Vice President, only to learn that the latter had enplaned for Cebu on a “field inspection” of projects.
Like Climate Change, politics is upon us as ambitious hopefuls churn controversies in hopes of grabbing headlines, embedding their names in the public’s mind, thus enhancing their ratings.
Name recognition plays a decisive role in politics; the more one’s name is mentioned, the greater the election chances. That’s why politicos, especially in the traditional mold (trapos) invest on gimmicks designed to get their names widely known and readily remembered.
It’s a gimmick borrowed from the advertising industry—which it borrowed from Hitler’s propaganda guru. A lie or an untruth repeated often enough soon appears as truth, or words to that effect.
In the bad old days—actually, today also—trapos famously provoked controversy so their names would be mentioned over and over with it and stand out in a lineup. They didn’t even mind being in a rogue’s-gallery to get publicity; anything to get their name embedded in the public mind was par for the course.
“I don’t care what you write about me as long as you spell my name correctly!”—was how they put it. And sure enough, so many of them made it to Congress… even Malacanang! Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Reli German caused the viral spread of his “Eraptions” until the jokes and the oxymoronic terms were on practically everyone’s lips. It worked.
Being associated with “Eat Bulaga” worked for a Sotto brother, as did basketball for a Webb and a Jaworski, or play-acting for a Lapid, and coup-plotting for a Honasan and a Trillanes. As an American pundit once said: “Nobody ever loses by underestimating the public’s mentality”—or words to that effect. How very true, especially in our society!
The point is, sensible Filipinos better wake up and foil them. Such gimmicks not only distract attention, they mislead people into believing untruth and cause society’s ruination by electing charlatans and predatory characters like today’s three senate jailbirds.
And we should be wary about politically charged hearings. The Pimentel-Trillanes-Cayetano triumvirate is dredging up virulent politics, cranking it out and turning the Senate into a Trial Court-cum-Plaza Miranda rolled into one. Even the media is caught up in their feeding frenzy.
It’s debatable however if their teleserye is netting them points. If they’re aiming to metamorphose into presidential or vice-presidential possibilities, they may be in for a disappointment. No amount of grandstanding can hasten the stature or maturity of young, unripe fruit.
Of only one thing can we be sure about these alleged hearings “in-aid-of-legislation”: they embed Binay’s name more firmly on the public’s mind—making him and his political dynasty all the more recognizable.
Funny thing is, if they think they have him on the run, retreating and hiding out everywhere to evade their hearings, they may be wrong. Evading the hearings gives him an excuse to visit obscure places and nondescript sympathizers to distribute patronage and activate his campaign network.
VP Binay is acting out the classic tale of the turtle who pretends to fear water and pleads not to be thrown into the pond. He must be gleeful about being forced to dive for cover in the political backwaters—where he can fish for more political support from naïve trapos like Pacman.
Knowing there are no votes to be had in the senate, he heads out to wade in electoral swamplands and turns the threats posed by the hearings to his advantage.
Meanwhile, society is distracted and all eyes and ears are focused on the Senate and Makati—meaning, no one is minding the localities.
This should make everyone wary: distracted by the spectacle above, no one notices the stealth maneuvers below. No one bothers to watch the Makati-style recruitment and training of campaign operatives in the barangays—which got Jojo Binay elected vice president.
Does anyone know how stealth won him the vice presidency last elections, including his capture of Gawad Kalinga’s support? And is anyone aware of the structure, staffing, activities, finances, and logistical deployment of the so-called United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Jojo’s “new” party?
(Manny is former UNESCO regional director for Asia-Pacific; secretary-general, Southeast Asia Publishers Association; director, development academy of Philippines; member, Philippine Mission to the UN; vice chair, Local Government Academy; member, Cory Govt’s Peace Panel; awardee, PPI-UNICEF outstanding columnist. He is president/national convenor, Gising Barangay Movement Inc. firstname.lastname@example.org)