Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Coup d'état against Duterte? Nah. I don't think so.

Presidential Communications secretary Martin Andanar should be very cautious and circumspect before he raises any issue at all. IN the first week of January, Andanar was quote as saying that there is a group now actively campaigning for the ouster of his principal, President Duterte. He points to a wealthy Filipinos-American businesswoman as behind this, and even tagged several members of the Vice president's staff as involved, although he was very careful not to directly involve the vice president Leni Robredo at all. Robredo has consistently denied being part of any plot, and even that US-based Filipina also belied it.

Obviously, Andanar's " scare tactics" will never work and it is too obvious. It came before the release of two surveys, the Pulse Asia and SWS, which points to a slight drop in trust and satisfaction ratings.  It was a highly deliberate tactic, which we, in the PR industry, knows as a mitigation tactic--ascribing blame over others. What Andanar wants us to believe is that the reason why people are slowly having fewer trust and lower satisfaction about this administration is that there is a deliberate attempt by anti-Duterte forces to influence public trust and satisfaction.

This is bullshit.

First off, the dip in Duterte's satisfaction and trust rating is, if you look at the presidential ratings from Aquino to Aquino, or an historical assessment, is highly regular. Ratings of presidents go South really after a year or two. In Duterte's case however, it came unexpectedly after six months, which is fast, if you ask me, considering that this administration has always said that Duterte is highly popular with the masses. A change in the perception from positive to negative is a cause of worry but this cannot be the handiwork of saboteurs. Ratings dip, and this is a given in any administration.

Second, I think that there is really no serious group out there sabotaging the President or making sure that he fumbles and fails in his mission. For one, the controversies that surrounded or hounded this president last year came from his very mouth. Doubts about his health came out when Duterte himself admitted he's sick and is using a powerful painkiller being used by cancer patients. Of course, people in the know would express their concerns realizing that stability rests on the health of the Chief Executive. We already have an experience with former president Marcos who lied constantly during his term and even denied that he was sick with lupus, and eventually, the issue broke out in humiliating fashion after his ouster from office. That explains that provision in the Constitution about the health of the President being revealed in public and there is simply nothing wrong with people expressing concerns about the President's health.

I think what concerns Malacanan right now are the following issues:

1. Malacanan is losing grip of Congress. Several sectors are questioning the leadership of both Houses and the possibility of a change looms.

2. Economic. The rate of foreign investments outflow is fast. If it stays that way and becomes a trend, there are serious repercussions to our economy.

3. Imposition of new taxes and that SSS pension fund issue are very serious. If the public are made aware of that SSS proposal to try and raise contributions from its members to fund that 1,000 pesos extra in pension, that would seriously turn into a very nasty public backlash.

4. That proposal of Diokno to impose taxes on diesel is a highly explosive economic issue which could turn seriously political the moment they implement it. Diokno's reasons are understandable; but for a public who has been brainwashed into thinking that the Philippines is on an economic roll, such a measure would turn fast into a political issue which could seriously undermine this administration.

5. There is now a growing public perception that this government is not vigilant in making sure that prices of goods stay within consumer expectations. Inflation is worsening.

Okey--what am I saying here? Government inaction and possibly, absence of strategic planning and thinking and the lackluster management and handling of the OP of certain things are contributing towards the fast deterioration of things in our country. As what Senator Trillanes said, one does not need to destabilize this administration because it is destabilizing itself, and that is true. Duterte may fall by his own sword if he does not seriously address the root cause of these things which is simply his aversion to address serious issues of governance and his overzealousness in the fight against drugs which has affected other more substantive aspects of governance.

His administration needs him to provide direction and it is becoming obvious that he is not stepping up to the plate. The fact is--Duterte's path or direction rans contrary to what most of his Cabinet members think and this is seriously destabilizing him. Honestly, I don't expect Duterte to change because I think, serving as mayor for 22 years already, our president is seriously tired. He's old, and he's accustomed to a governance style that could only be described as "remote control". Yes, you can do that to a small city but to a country of 101 million souls? Duterte is expected to protect people's interests against the interests of carpet-baggers and influence peddlers and bureaucrat capitalists who now surround him. Yes, these are allies, but these people are concerned only of their own personal and fiduciary interests, neither the country's nor the people's. The minute Duterte becomes weak and weaker still, expect these people to abandon him.

Andanar should not point to other people--he should tell the truth as part of his public mandate. Andanar should realize that his boss is not Duterte but the people. He is the Secretary of a Department which is created by the Constitution. He should not start a fire which could backfire eventually.

The lesson here is simple---do not think that people nowadays are fools or stupid idiots. People are highly informed. Raising the red flag at this early stage is detrimental to the administration, not at all helping the efforts at stabilizing or lowering the level of anxiety over the administration.

Look---after Andanar's supposed revelation (which I believe is self-serving; of course, Andanar's stock as a reliable or trustworthy member of Duterte's cabinet is assured after him giving the President a "heads up". Rumors of his eventual ouster or replacement would definitely be just that, rumors. Andanar is very influential being the husband of the daughter of an Aguilar, who happens to be the relative of Senator Cynthia Aguilar-Villar, a strong electoral contributor and political ally of the President), investors, I was informed, immediately took a position of "wait and see." With Andanar's propensity to shoot his mouth off, there will surely be a time when he becomes that kid who cried wolf. That is not good.