'Feeling opposition,' Duterte remains on 'campaign mode': analyst

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 12 2018 12:21 PM | Updated as of Sep 10 2018 12:36 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte. Richard Madelo, Malacanang Photo

MANILA - Despite having a strong and active base of supporters, President Rodrigo Duterte is still on "campaign mode" nearly 2 years after the 2016 elections, according to an analyst from the public relations industry.

Speaking at an anti-disinformation forum Monday, Public Relations Society of the Philippines president Ron Jabal said the "drama" in the President's speeches seems to be a part of this continuing campaign.

"Duterte is not just giving you information but providing you drama... He's giving you a performance. He's performing," he said before students, bloggers and journalists at the Ateneo de Manila University in Rockwell, Makati.

Duterte has used colorful language in his speeches and admitted recently that he needs to act like a dictator to put the country in order.

Asked why the President still needs to campaign despite his base of supporters, Jabal said it is because the President may be feeling the growing opposition against him.

"All his statements remain to be a campaign for him. Because he feels there's still a lot of opposition. He is scared to lose that," he told ABS-CBN News on the sidelines of the "Democracy and Disinformation" forum.

"He still feels he may have had 16 million voters but there's a lot of people who are very noisy trying to pull him down so he needs to be able every day [to] campaign for himself," he added.

Other speakers of the event are Ellen Tordesillas of VERA Files, journalism professors Diosa Labiste pf UP Diliman and Cherian George of the Hong Kong Baptist University.

The start of the forum began with a video by VERA Files entitled, "Portrait of a President as a Source of Disinformation," which showed various conflicting statements of Duterte.

Tordesillas noted that one of the biggest challenges for journalists covering Duterte is to avoid being a peddler of "fake news" and to fact-check the President's statements, which takes a lot of time for a reporter on a deadline.

The veteran journalist stressed that education and truth-telling is the only way to fight disinformation at a time when fake news is easily proliferated to the public through social media.

Prof. Labiste added that media has to continue to debunk and denounce fake news, especially if it comes from a populist president who rose to power through charisma and the promise of disrupting status quo.

Prof. George agreed to Labiste and Tordesillas, saying journalists should not just become stenographers of news-makers and provide necessary context in what they report.