Sunday, February 8, 2015

Palace spinmeisters moving to save the damned

Well known in PR crisis that an issue lasts for two weeks tops. Everything after two weeks are all fluff. That explains why the next two weeks will just be for image or reputational recovery. Meaning, the image restorer has his hands full, filling the air with positive, inspiring news about his principal.

This is the same strategy being employed now by the palace. Their main goal is to impress upon the people (1) acceptance of the tragedy ("nangyari na yan" argument), (2) assurance that government will help in reparations ("alagaan namin kayo") (3) a hint that government will seek justice ("papanagutin natin ang mga me sala") and (4) there will be changes ("malaking pagbabago"). The President's February 6 speech are peppered with these re-assuring words.

What these pseudo-image experts do not realise is the level of public discussions has risen and widen to such great lengths that the discussion is not anymore about the facts of the issue, rather on a more substantive level, and that is, the question of responsibility.

Already formed in the minds of the public that government has bungled the job which led to the unfortunate deaths of 44 SAF troopers. That is already settled. Nothing more to add to this, even if Poe conducts a probe, unsettling images have already stuck in the people's minds about this incident.

The dominant view is this---weak leadership causes problems in command responsibility.

Now, groups against Pnoy have their solution--ouster. The only question is--does the public share the same sentiment?

By and large, and base on my personal studies and observations about what people are talking about, the biggest casualty here seems to be the Bangsamoro. Yes, the Bangsamoro.

What this incident re-inforced into the minds of the people is the age-old belief that "Moros are not to be trusted. They stab you in the back."

Old folks know this by heart. This incident actually strengthened this belief among the people and hence, affects their perception about the peace talks.

Beyond the settled finding of the people of Pnoy's culpability is the popular view of Pnoy "engaging the enemy (Bangsamoro) and creating problems for himself." This is highly difficult to repair and goes beyond Public Relations.

By associating himself closely with the MILF, Pnoy risks losing the last remaining base of his support and stands at the very edge of a bottomless pit, a nudge short of falling.

These PR men tried to cure this negative perception of the President thru his speeches, trying to re-create or "re-imagine" the image and reputation  of Pnoy as a "Commander in chief" and  " person in control of the situation." This is their spin.

What is going against them is the fact that the spin does not jibe with existing reality.

The only way is really is for this administration to make a choice: sacrifice the peace talks or risk losing power. If they continue the peace talks, Pnoy stands to lose everything. If they suspend talks and try to do confidence-building measures first, meaning, repetitional restoration, they save the situation from going down the drain.