Presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is STILL in the running for the highest position of the land. Days after an actual or perceived insult on the Prince of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, Mayor Digong is still swinging, sometimes wildly, and dishing out his usual cuss words. In a predominantly Catholic country, that was just recently visited by the Pope, few candidates can get away with, to put it mildly, IRREVERENT comments without getting the ire of the voting populace. Surprisingly, Mayor Duterte is still most probably leading the poll surveys that would be conducted and/or results released soon. The Davao mayor, for the first time, led in the most recent popularity contest conducted in Metro Manila.
In the heat of the battle going into a Presidential election, a single statement, action/inaction or event can be magnified a thousand times over and the lucky/unlucky candidate can find himself propelled upwards or pushed downwards, sometimes irreversibly. The death of former President Cory Aquino gave her son Noynoy, now called P-Noy, the chance to seize the Presidency (at the expense of Liberal Party mate Mar Roxas who had to slide down and run in a losing effort for the Vice Presidency). Few people would have voted for lackluster Senator Noynoy if Cory had not died at that particular period. This time around, Mayor Duterte courted political disaster by uttering curse words that devout Catholics could not stomach. In past elections, prior to the advent of SOCIAL MEDIA, Duterte would be DEAD MEAT by this time, what with the constant barrage of negative comments and reports coming from mainstream media (newspapers, radio and television).
In the old days, bad publicity could only be countered by the “obligatory” side of the center of controversy to be ventilated. Whole articles can lash out at the “victim” whose only consolation is that a few sentences would be published getting his version of the story. It would be the same for radio and television. Depending on the number of days that the controversial story would run, the perceived erring party would be a virtual punching bag with one and all invited to box and/or kick the usually defenseless erring person. Today, this is exactly what happened to Mayor Duterte, he is placed in an uncomfortable position trying to justify what he did (that he was just FRUSTRATED at the vehicular traffic jam) at the same time that he has to apologize for cursing the Pope (which, he claims, was not his true intention).
If the Philippines is still in the DARK AGES of total information control by mainstream media, Mayor Duterte would be struggling right now from the near-fatal blow that he got for failing to keep his mouth shut. However, in this Internet age, social media has captured the imagination of the Filipino people with Duterte admirers taking to Facebook to minimize losses, bide for time and launch a media counter-offensive all at the same time. While there is still a steady stream of Pope related stories, naturally negative to the Duterte cause, in mainstream media, in CYBERSPACE Duterte is WINNING points due to the sheer number of his sympathizers who say they would rather have a politician who CURSES rather than a public official who STEALS. Others bash the Catholic Church for anointing THIEVES (with pictures of CONVICTED felon Erap, PLUNDER charged Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Juan Ponce Enrile and Bong Revilla all hearing mass, being anointed or receiving Holy Communion in the company of Catholic bishops). Some pro-Duterte posters compare the mayor to the womanizing hero Jose Rizal and the foul mouthed General Antonio Luna (recently the subject of a blockbuster movie).
Since Facebook is a twenty-four hour activity, Duterte supporters have seized the UNFORTUNATE UTTERANCE and have turn the near-tragedy to a rallying point that would, hopefully, bring in more people who would be spending more time in defending and campaigning for their Presidential candidate. There are still five months till election day in May 2016, this should be enough time to get this INCIDENT out of the way so that the good mayor can again concentrate on more pressing issues like CRIMINALITY, Metro Manila TRAFFIC and NATION BUILDING.