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ROUGH CUTS | Battle of ‘Official Statements’

There is this new armament used by both adversaries in the political battle field. And this scheme is maximizing the social media as its vehicle.
We are talking of course with the ongoing exchanges in official statements of this and that politician and political groups, and even the police organization that was recently dragged into the arena as consequence of one suspected political act.

Yes, just recently the group identified with former President Rodrigo R. Duterte released an official statement relative to its Maisug Prayer Rally in Tacloban City that did not materialize. The Duterte group insinuated that Marcos, Jr.’s administration had a hand in the non-availability of the venue, including the cancellation of flights to Tacloban City. The statement was posted on Facebook.

A day or so earlier relieved Mindanao Authority Chairperson Mabel Sunga Acosta also issued her own Official Statement as reaction to her sudden ouster by the President. In her statement she claimed that her relief was in violation of a provision in the law that created the Authority setting the term of office of the chair to six (6) years.

In response, Malacanang through the Executive Secretary simply used a letter bluntly telling the lady chair of MinDa that the President has lost his “trust and confidence” on Acosta. While it was not in an Official Statement form, again the same was posted on the social media.

Then some three days ago, Davao City Mayor Sebastian “Baste” Duterte issued his Official Statement in regards to the temporary relief from their posts of some 35 policemen including newly-assumed Davao City Police Office (DCPO) Director Col. Richard Bad-ang. Apparently the relief of the uniformed men was the consequence of the reported deaths of seven alleged drug suspects in buy-bust operations conducted in a period of roughly three weeks in the city.

A day after, the Police Regional Office (PRO) XI also came out with its own Official Statement on the issue harped on by the city mayor. Most notable in the PRO Official Statement is the reason of the relief of the policemen which is the on-going investigation on the circumstances of the deaths of the suspects which human rights advocates here and abroad are keenly watching the present government.

And why are these exchanges of Official Statements among concerned groups done through the social media? Apparently it is because social media these days have a much wider audience compared to other news vehicles – thus the preference of either of the adversaries to use it as carrier of whatever political projectile they can harness if only to gain the upper hand.

Besides the wider reach, in terms of immediacy in reaching its target audience the message gets there on real time. As soon as it is uploaded it is right there on the gadget of the desired audience and gets to their knowledge as soon as it is opened and read.

Hence, these exchanges of Official Statements by and among protagonists in the country’s dirty political war are clearly the most effective means of stoking the ember of discord among politicians turning the same into raging flames in Philippine politics even long before the election season.

Talking of election, it is still a good one year before the next mid-term polls. Already there are questions whether the election for local officials in Davao City will be excited again as it was when the Dutertes were still nowhere in City’s political landscape.

Yes, after the elder Duterte became mayor when he trounced heavy favorite and Corazon Aquino-backed Zafiro Respicio, the local elections in Davao City was never the same again. Of course there were three elections for mayor where opposition candidates were fielded against the formidable Duterte the father. Those were the elections when Alexis Almendras, the late Congressman and Speaker Prospero “Boy” Nograles, and then re-electionist Mayor Benjamin de Guzman ran as opposition. But all of them were no match to the populist Duterte who even penetrated the remotest of the city’s then rebel-infested barangays.

When the former Mayor became President and her daughter Sara took the reign of the local government no one dared to run against her except that perennial candidate surnamed Marcillones.

In the May 2022 elections when Mayor Sara ran for Vice President, her brother Baste ran for Mayor even if hesitatingly. A scion of a deceased popular politician ran to oppose the Duterte son’s candidacy. He was lawyer Ruy Elias Lopez. But again the Duterte clout also rubbed in on the son. And with Baste’s advantage in resources the younger Lopez’s opposition was literally steamrollered.
Now with the 2025 local elections already creeping in the horizon will anyone ever attempt to oppose the incumbent who is likely to run or be goaded to seek re-election?

Of course there is a prominent name that many who have been silently hoping for an opposition to the Dutertes will rise. It belongs to the old Duterte nemesis – the Nograleses. But we wonder if any of the Nograles scions will ever consider it wise to give a try at this time when Duterte the father’s stature is still like a granite wall surrounding the perimeter of his family’s turf.

The likelihood therefore is that the heat of the local election in Davao City will only be raging in the contest for councilors in the three city districts.

As to the position of Vice Mayor, it will also be a “no-contest” between a Duterte endorsee and whoever will try his or her luck for the city government’s second highest position.


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