It is always good to view certain events after the fact because you’ll have the benefit
of hindsight like when we try to dissect the nitty-gritty of last Monday’s midterm elections.
The results, especially in the senatorial race, admittedly was a rout by the candidates
personally endorsed by the president against their foes. And the Palace spin masters were
quick to claim it was mainly due to what they say as the Duterte magic.
But is there really such a thing?
Of course, the diehards would claim yes there is such a thing proved by the rout
itself. The non-diehards, on the other hand, would argue there’s no such a thing as Duterte
magic that enabled the rout to happen.
What was glaring was Otso Diretso’s refusal to strongly make the three-year Duterte
presidency’s performance the crux of the matter in last Monday’s election. Justified this by
arguing the midterm elections is not a presidential election. But they fatally forgot that
midterm elections serve as referendum on the sitting president.
Duterte was the issue but inexplicably the opposition spared him and his presidency
from being subjected to a litmus test if it had delivered according to its 2016 campaign
promises and what it has accomplished after three years in office. This did not happen.
Duterte’s endorsement of his favored senatorial candidates was then not critiqued
according to his presidency’s own performance. The myth that he is doing well for the
country was perpetuated instead of being subjected to close scrutiny.
Knowing the midterm election is crucial to the remaining three years of his
presidency, Duterte left no stone unturned to ensure the victory of his favored candidates.
He personally endorsed them and campaigned hard for them.
In between regular television programs were political ad placements of his
candidates with him strongly endorsing each of them. This phenomenon was witnessed by
the nation during the campaign period. So massive was the tv ad placements of his
candidates that viewers became nauseous about them.
Truth is those political ads showing the president separately endorsing his favored
candidates reached a point of becoming an annoyance on air.
Add the infomercials these Duterte favored candidates aired after the filing of their
certificates of candidacies in October, last year, until Feb. 11, the eve of the commencement
of the official campaign period. If you did not feel nauseous about them, I don’t know what
can make you one.
The concern here is not only the frequency of the tv ad airing. It is the cost. A 30-
seconder tv ad aired during television’s prime time costs P1.2 million in ABS-CBN and
P250,000 in GMA. Because of its exorbitant cost many asked where did the favored Duterte
candidates source their huge war chests enabling them to place multiple tv ads in between
popular television series during one episode in one prime time evening?
The administration favored candidates won because Duterte staked his neck for them
plus the huge war chest available to them that those in the opposition did not have. So there
was no Duterte magic in their victory but because of the logistics they have enabling them to
place tv ads in wild abandon and the government resources that made possible the
president’s travels to campaign for them. (email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org)