Teflon Duterte gaining 'cloak of invisibility': analyst


MANILA - Call it the cloak of invisibility.

This is how a political analyst describes Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte supposed "Teflon" status as the presidential frontrunner continues to weather various issues thrown his way.

De La Salle Professor Julio Teehankee said Duterte's rivals did not gang up on Duterte during the third and final debate despite the brewing controversy over the mayor's statement regarding an Australian rape victim.

"We did not see what we were expecting that they will all pound on Mayor Duterte, the frontrunner. So what is happening now really is we are seeing Mayor Duterte slowly but surely getting what I call the ‘Erap cloak of invisibility,’ so if he survives particularly the backlash over his rape jokes and other outrageous comments, then I think the momentum is truly on his side," he told ANC Monday.

WATCH: Political analysts: Final debate will be game changer

In the latest Pulse Asia survey commissioned by ABS-CBN, Duterte boosted his lead in the presidential race with 34 percent of respondents picking him as president, 12 points ahead of closest rival Senator Grace Poe.

READ: Duterte boosts lead in new ABS-CBN survey

Teehankee said the latest survey, which was conducted from April 12 to 17, did not reflect the possible impact of Duterte's rape remark on voters' preference.

If Duterte continues to gain ground in the next surveys, the analyst said the Philippines will witness a repeat of the "1998 Erap effect" or the ability to get away with criticisms.

"If you look at the breakdown of the survey results, I used to think that Metro Manila will be the battleground location in which in the last week's survey results both Senator Grace Poe and Mayor Duterte were neck and neck. But now Mayor Duterte is 41 percent in NCR. And another surprising break away for Mayor Duterte is ABC class. In the past, they were tied in that demographic and now he has overtaken Senator Poe. But this is the same geographic location and this is the same social economic class that will think twice because of this rape joke," he said.

"Now if Mayor Duterte survives this rape joke fiasco, then truly the momentum will be on his side and this will be a repeat of 1998 with the Erap [former president Joseph Estrada] effect," he added.

Teehankee said that in political science and electoral theory, voters usually decide "not on the basis of complete information but snippets of images that are projected by the candidates."

"It is the voters who are making or creating their own narratives. Whether these narratives are in sync with the campaign narratives of the candidates, then this will result in the election victory."

He also said the so called "Duterte phenomenon" is driven by the emotions that today's voters are feeling towards the current administration.

“I think it is driven by four emotions that are currently resonating among the electorate. First it’s frustration with the failure of this administration to complete the reform process and to properly bring the public service. Second is anger and third is fear, fear of uncertainty. And lastly, it’s cynicism. So I think these four emotions are the driving force behind this so called 'Duterte phenomenon,'” he said.