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The Long View

Go Diokno go

Back in 2010, the Manila Standard’s Laylo surveys revealed that when voters were asked the most helpful means in deciding whom to vote for, they responded by saying, the news — specifically, on TV (83 percent; less than 10 percent said radio, only 2 percent said the papers). Asked about their top trusted sources of news, two out of three replied “TV Patrol,” and its rival, “24 Oras.” The third top trusted source of news: “Wowowee.” Similarly on radio, Bombo Radyo and dzRH appeared together with Love Radio on FM; for the papers, it was the Inquirer and Manila Bulletin, with the tabloid Bulgar.

So we have the boost to former and perhaps future senator Lito Lapid, courtesy of his cameos in “Ang Probinsyano.” But the biggest news — and proof, perhaps, of that old saying that there’s no such thing as bad publicity — is the fate of two other polar opposites in the ongoing senatorial race: Bong Go (“The horse Caligula wants to make a senator,” one wag from an older generation put it) and Chel Diokno (whose quip on who he will give the last life vest to — Gloria Macapagal Arroyo or President Duterte—on a sinking ship, spoke truth to power by saying he might as well be the one to take it).

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The desiccated coconut known as the presidential spokesperson was asked what accounted for Go’s going up in the polls, and he ventured a guess: He’s always seen with the President, so that helps. But lots of aides have been seen with presidents, yet the public does not have any idea who those people are, which was precisely Go’s case at the start of the buzz over the coming campaign. Go enjoyed hardly any awareness at the time.

There are tales aplenty as to how Go went to solve this problem, essentially revolving around tried-and-tested activities: going everywhere, and practically every politically involved person has some sort of Go story to tell, whether it’s his appearing in obscure barrio events (appearing at the crowning of the local beauty queen, and making an impromptu song-and-dance-featured pitch for an hour and a half), or plastering the country from top to bottom with posters and handing out collaterals. The message being, money is no object and that the President’s ambitions are limited to ensuring Go is in, and everyone else can, to varying degrees, go to hell, as far as he’s concerned. (Still, from time to time he emerges from seclusion not only to give proofs of life, but to heckle particular opposition senatorial candidates who are making his coalition lose sleep.)

It may just be that the recent epidemic of reporting on Governor Gollum’s appointment to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas ironically aided his opposite in every noteworthy respect, Chel Diokno. If Ben Diokno is the price we have to pay for this fortunate phenomenon, so be it. And while Go’s going, growing and glowing in the surveys is not only remarkable but seemingly unstoppable, Diokno’s going up owes more to a genuine go, go, go attitude than a to-be-expected result of flooding the country with money and visits facilitated by fear of the Palace.

The President, of course, will be able to derive satisfaction from how his horse did in the race; he is no exception to the presidential compulsion to prove one’s self through the success of anointed candidates. What may be a future cause of concern is how his daughter fares as the heir presumptive to his position. Her Honor the Mayor of Davao essentially became campaign manager of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago coalition, except she’s been bedeviled by two things. The first is increasing concern that their loyalists might end up so loyal as to vote 13 or 14 candidates for the Senate (depending on how updated, or not, they are), which could cause complications in the counting. The other is, she makes good copy when she engages in verbal brawls but it can be counterproductive: After she snapped that honesty doesn’t matter, she had to backpedal, saying dear old mom told her off.

The moral of the tale is that in her first real foray into this whole succession scheme business, she’s proven less skilled than dear old dad, and was found wanting by the political class sniffing around to see if she really has what it takes to be a national candidate. Too much exposure, too soon, seems to be the verdict for now.

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TAGS: 2019 elections, 2019 senatorial candidates, Chel Diokno, Manuel L. Quezon III, The Long View
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