Just a few hours after Manny Pacquiao’s glorious win over Tim Bradley, another explosive fight broke out in the second Vice Presidential Debates held at the UST Gymnasium- April 10, 2016. The first VP debate for this election was organized by GONEGOSYO, the second is a co-production between COMELEC-PiliPINAS and CNN Phil. The gloves were off as Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano lashed out scathing verbal attacks on all his rivals but most particularly against Sen. Bong Bong Marcos.
The irony of it all is that the free, open, debates will most likely be lost in a platform of repression under Cayetano’s running mate Rodrigo Duterte. How can they allow open criticism much less a political debate under their program of state sponsored murder?
Freedom of the press, freedom of expression even online and fb will most likely be suppressed if Cayetano and Duterte are voted in the highest office. A strong indication is what happened with student Stephen Villena during Duterte’s campaign. Villena was cyber bullied and received death threats for being pesky and impolite in asking Duterte about his education platform during an open forum.
The SWS survey immediately before the 2nd Vice Presidential debates from the period of March 30-April 2, 2016 published in BusinessWorld. Showed Duterte taking the lead, which should sound alarm bells for anyone literate to campaign against him. Cayetano on the other hand has been lagging way behind in 4th place. While Sen. Bong Bong Marcos has taken the lead from Senator Chiz Escudero, 26% and 21% respectively. Leni Robredo is in 3rd place at 19% and Cayetano at 4th with 13%. The debate venue, UST in their own survey had BOTH Sen. Miriam Santiago and Sen. Bongbong Marcos leading all candidates.
Paving The Way
Cayetano must have felt extremely desperate that he had to do something radical during the debates to change things. That is to malign the other candidates, often going below the belt. IF one looks at his career this is one strategy that he has employed for the long term. He was involved with the Senate investigation on the ZTE Deal and Fertilizer scam. He has gained recent prominence for the Senate inquiry on VP Binay’s alleged kickbacks on the New Makati Parking Building 11 and Makati Science High School, and the Joint Venture agreement with Boy Scouts.
To a certain extent he has gained an appreciation from the public for helping expose these anomalies in government. IF he did not run for vice president or campaign for his running mate there wouldn’t have been any doubts to his motivation for the inquiries. But because of the sequence of events he’s perceived as ‘paving the way’ for Duterte by destroying the reputation of the leading rival candidate for the presidency in Binay. It was Cayetano heralding Duterte’s Presidential candidacy while Digong remained coy for almost a year.
While Duterte’s rise to fame has strong parallelisms (even in ideology) with Adolf Hitler, Cayetano has a similarity with U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy. Senator McCarthy was known for an era of repression and paranoia of Soviet agents infiltrating and controlling the U.S. in the 1950s. The recent film TRUMBO starring Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad fame is a story of how Hollywood screenwriters overcame the persecution of Senator McCarthy. The term McCarthyism has gone on to mean: “Today, it is used more generally in reference to demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents”.
During the debate in UST, Cayetano continued his tirade castigating other senators for their absence during the inquiries. From the absence impugning their corruption and collusion with the accused. He increased his level of attacks often randomly blurting out actual names without being able to substantiate them. It worried moderators Pia Hontiveros and Pinky Webb that they warned him against mentioning the names of people who were not present to defend themselves. While the two did an OK job, Mitzi Borromeo should have been one of the moderators being the face of CNN Phil for some time now.
During the McCarthy era in the 1950s anyone and everyone can be accused of being a Communist often losing their jobs and even suffered imprisonment. A great number of these accusations were later proven to be false. There is so much more at stake than just the election. Duterte-Cayetano as a modern day version of Hitler and McCarthy is a surefire recipe for the death of democracy in the Philippines.
Cayetano started the debates by quoting biblical scripture, which made him seem even more self-righteous. He may have done so to sound God-fearing as his running mate received a wave of criticism after cussing no less than Pope Francis during his visit here. Alan can’t seem to change his tune even when he’s quoting scripture. His ceaseless attacks on other candidates have made him a vortex of negativity. He doesn’t come across as being likable enough for voters, not even for vice president and the surveys reflect that.
During the topic of human rights he did not relent bringing up the Martial Law victims of Bong Bong’s late father from decades past. Bong bong bit his tongue and did not mention Duterte’s more current human rights abuses of extra judicial killings collated by Amnesty International and even our own Department of Justice.
Senator Chiz Escudero in his closing statement gave a very sincere and a very Filipino response to the hypocrisy of Cayetano: “Hindi ko po ugali apakan ang ibang tao para umangat. At lalong di ko ugali buhatin ang sarili kong bangko.” (Roughly translated to: It’s not in in my nature to disparage people’s reputations in order to raise myself up in the eyes of others). There was an audible gasp of embarrassment from the crowd who knew that he was referring to Cayetano. Chiz successfully made use of a famous and meaningful Filipino saying that cut through the heart of the issue.
Bong Bong’s Uppercut
After nearly two hours of Cayetano’s accusations Senator Bong bong Marcos was able to slip in a sneaky uppercut that changed the atmosphere of the debate. Bong bong quoted Duterte as saying, “Sinabi ni Mayor Digong ika niya kapag di na lutas ang krimen 3-6 months ibibigay na raw niya ang pagkapangulo kay Bong Bong. Yon ang sinabi niya. Na kita niya ang aking kakayahan ko sa peace and order.” (Duterte himself said if the 6-month deadline for peace and order promise was not kept I would cede the Presidency to Bong Bong) The statement is a huge slap in the face of Cayetano who is his official running mate.
Cayetano quickly retorted, “Sinabi ni Mayor Digong yon ka harap ang Ilocano Mayors he was being playful. Pero ang sinabi po niya pag di mo iboto si Allan ako wag na. Pero di ko po tinatanggap yan. Siya kelangan natin. Ako po kahit di niyo ko boto, 100% Duterte. Si Bong bong pagka nasa Cavite, Bong bong Binay, pag nasa Ilocos Binay o kaya Binay Marcos. Kapag nasa Mindanao Duterte Bong bong, yan po ang klase ng pamumulitika niya. Isasaksak niya para siya maging presidente. Wag niyo nako iboto alaga na lang ako ni Mayor Duterte.”
Cayetano downplayed the statement claiming that Duterte was merely pandering to the Ilocano Mayors (Bong Bong’s Provincemates). Cayetano added that he was willing to sacrifice himself to help Duterte win. Bong bong jabbed back, “Kasalanan ko ba kung yung Presidente mo may gusto sakin?” Whether or not Duterte was lying it’s hard to ignore a public statement of your running mate disowning you and his lack of confidence in your abilities.
Cayetano has taken the cue from his running mate not to be specific in programs or platforms. The problem is that they mostly have unclear solutions, if not overly simplistic generic ones to the most complex problems, whether its foreign policy, traffic or corruption. Cayetano & Duterte use Leadership and Political Will. Both of them misuse Leadership with that of instilling fear and intimidation, not just to criminals but to the whole populace. In their streamers DDS is acronym for the Digong Duterte Supporters in Manila. It is also the same acronym for the dreaded Davao Death Squad said to carry out his program of state sponsored murders. The DDS is indeed here in Manila as the streamer proudly proclaims.
In this debate, Cayetano added another key word: FEDERALISM as another catchall solve everything solution to the Mindanao conflict etc. The problem is many doubt if Digong himself understands the concept of Federalism or is able to explain fully how he will be able to implement it. For that question we go back to the previous key words of Leadership and Political Will interchangeable with instilling fear and intimidation and the loss of basic human rights.
Sen. Sonny Trillanes called him out on it, “Davao City sinasabi mo e bakit Taguig di na ayos? It is not fair to the people. Yung Davao city 4th siya e sa highest na pinaka maraming krimen sa ating bansa. So kung di na tapos ni Mayor Duterte ng more than 20 years yung krimen sa kanyang bakuran. Di natin pinag-uusapan yung murder kung di rape and other index crimes. Pano niya na sabi 6 months? Wag tayo magbolahan dito. Di po totoo na walang krimen sa Davao. Its not fair maraming sumasakay, maraming na lilinlang na mga kababayan natin. Doon sumasakay, baka umasa sila. Pagka umasa sila binigay yung boto nila tapos pag dating doon tapos sasabihin niya e di ko pala na sabi aatras nako. Paki sabi sa president niyo magsalita siya pano niya gagawin yon?”
In stark contrast viewers surveyed after the debate responded that it was Cong. Leni Robredo who distinguished herself from the pack. Her words ring especially true as a humble post grad student, lawyer who has actually worked with farmers in their city of Naga. She’s personally aware of the problems of millions of Filipinos because she experiences them.
Unlike Cayetano she went into a lot of specifics in ANTI POVERTY programs and even improving the RAPID BUS TRANSIT and PNR railway as possible solutions to traffic. More than that is the emotional connection or puso; heart, famously used by GILAS PILIPINAS, “Sinasabi ko sa sarili ko excited nako manalo. Hindi para sa sarili ko. Pero para sa ating mga kababayan na umaasa. Na merong mamumuno sa kanila na hinding hindi sila papabayaan. Nung una pa po akong tumatakbo halos wala po saking nakakakilala. Sa lahat po yata sa amin pang huli ako. Ngayon po hindi na ganoon ang kwento. Malapit na abot kamay na ang tagumpay. Isa po akong ina hindi ko kayo pababayaan ang aking mga anak. Hindi ko papabayaan ang bayan. Naniniwala po ako sa dulo ng lahat na parati yung tama ang mananaig. Sa amin pong anim may the best woman win!”
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