Admit it–there is simply no comparison at all between President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo. First, Duterte is a straight talker while Robredo is not. It takes Duterte a few minutes to communicate what he wants to say while Robredo will need ten points and an entire hour just to prove her competence.
Second, Duterte is a risk taker; unfortunately, Robredo is not.Duterte commands, Robredo follows. Just take a look at the pronouncements of the Vice President–not a single statement is original. Most, if not all responses are reactions from issues raised by the Palace. Even that PhilHealth issue– it was the palace itself that initiated the probe. How about those questionable ayudas? Again, complaints never came from the Opposition-it was the DILG secretary Eduardo Ano who admitted that 200 or so local government officials erred and are now subject to prosecution. The Opposition never led–they simply follow. And they expect to win against this administration?
Both are not intellectuals yet Duterte proudly announces his conspiracies wild to many intellectuals yet highly substantive for those living in the grassroots. These conspiracy theories animate and validate long-held myths by the masses that attribute their situation to the nefariousness of oligarchic forces not due to the sheer incompetence displayed by Duterte. Intellectuals may look down upon Duterte’s several acts of hopelessness and resignation as weaknesses, but the masses interpret these as honest acts of contrition.
Duterte appears to the masses as a credible source because of his age. Culturally, no one among us would dispute a fact or a philosophical observation coming from a 75 year old Lolo. It is socially deemed unacceptable. Hence, the license for Mr. Duterte to say what he wants and be held responsible for its social effects because his handlers know exactly that to oppose Duterte is simply culturally and socially unacceptable.
So, when the opposition attacks Duterte for his dementia or when he shows physical weakness, attackers think they scored a goal, when all they did was increase empathy from overseas Filipino workers of their idol. When they accused Duterte of being corrupt when no visible piece of evidence link Mr. Duterte directly to the official accused of thievery, attackers again rejoice for having scored a point when all they did was add more suspicion from the masses of the opposition’s tendency to spread fake news. When oppositionists note of Mr. Duterte’s flip-flopping and its dire effects on regulatory policies, even foreign policy, such attacks only intensify the collective negativity being felt by the masses towards the opposition’s ranks as elitists and mean accusers.
Bottomline–the opposition represents the counter-elite that is viewed by the masses not as friends but similar to the nefarious elites who control both the economy and politics. Using the people’s lens, these politicians are practically of the same mold. The only difference is the ones making these accusations are those salivating for a comeback to Power.
The Opposition must speak the language of the masses–literally and figuratively. The masses limit their concerns only on five things: getting food on the table and a roof over their heads by having a stable job that pays enough. It is enough for them to be entertained by watching free television and have some funds to text their friends or upload videos of their lives. It is enough for them to have some funds to transport themselves to the workplace and back to their homes and enough monies to spend on some simple frivolities such as going to the park or spending a night somewhere cheap. It is an extra if their kids all finish college and secure for themselves jobs.
You don’t need to treat the masses as your adorable babies because they hate it. The Opposition idealizes the masses when the right approach is not to tell them they are in a poor state or condition— the right approach is to express that you know and you have an immediate response or solution to at least alleviate their suffering. Or that they are being misled or being victimized by corruption by explaining to them the modus operandi of these government officials.
Duterte enjoys a higher trust rating among the others precisely because he knows what the masses think and need. He talks directly to them and the words and phrases he uses are all validated expressions that had worked before in subduing even incalcitrant members of the masses.
Note that Duterte always want to establish credibility by peppering his statements in the middle with ” I’m a lawyer, ” or “I’m a Prosecutor” to make his listeners believe that even though how goofy his stories are, they are credible because it came from a seasoned lawyer or a seasoned prosecutor. He seeks dominance by asserting his status as “President” and “Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines” and owning the police and the military by claiming that he alone increased their “rewards” (pay raise) and that they are “his.”
In contrast, Vice President Leni Robredo does not seem to concretely establish an image for herself. What is this creature, the masses ask themselves? Until now, Leni is an enigma that explains why only fifty percent of the population trust her. How can Leni be an alternative to Duterte when she is still a questionable character before the masses.
How can you trust someone who lengthy explains a simple concept before the masses? The last televised address of Robredo was her prescription on COVID-19 response. It took Robredo 10 or maybe even 11 points to make a point that she is qualified! I don’t even remember one of those ten, to be honest. Simplify Madame Vice President to communicate with us, your people.
How can you trust someone who is like a chameleon– bespectacled at one time, wearing contact lenses in another. Hailing a bus to go back to Bicol at one point and being seen riding a Mercedes in another. Consistency is necessary to form a definitive image.
Is she my Tita or my gorgeous MILF? Is she an ate or a mother figure? Robredo’s camp always try to drum up her contributions to the COVID-19 response thru donations. Why do that? Hindi ba alas ng mga handlers of Robredo that every time they publish Robredo’s activities relative to COVID-19 RESPONSE, these are deemed political by the masses? Or as they say, namumulitika? Why is that? Because everyone expects their Vice President to really work her ass off. The masses already knew that the VP is a hard worker why belabor the fact?
Likewise, her very own spokesperson Atty. Barry Gutierrez is effective as a haughty and a boastful person! Barry should be reminded that he is not anymore a major government figure. And his bravura harms his principal dearly.
That explains why even though this Pulse Asia survey is doubtful for possibly how they accomplished their data-gathering, the final result would still possibly reflect a higher trust rating of Mr. Duterte than Robredo’s.
One friend asked me about Robredo and one piece of advice to her handlers— do some research. Do a Focus Group Discussion first before undertaking a communications campaign for her. Do some grassroots experiment first.
Honestly, the first time that Robredo’s name cropped up as the liberal’s bet as Vice President, I initially liked her for what she was– an honest person who was raised in a rich family yet chose to be with the masa by serving them as a lawyer. When she became a VP, this image suddenly vanished and splashes of her photos began as covers of elite magazines! The shift or transformation was instantaneous and forced. WHY?
Answer–her communications handlers are as clueless as she is about how to describe herself before us, the public.