'Using Erap's playbook': Analyst laments Marcos' 'absent strategy' in presidential interviews

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2022 03:05 AM

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MANILA — Presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. appears to be copying former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada's "absentee" playbook that helped the latter win the country's top job over two decades ago, a political analyst said on Friday.

This, after Marcos earlier Friday did not attend the "Panata sa Bayan: The KBP Presidential Candidates' Forum" hosted by the country's association of broadcasters.

Political science professor Julio Teehankee noted that the former senator, who is the frontrunner in the presidential race, has skipped key presidential job interviews ahead of the May 9 polls.

This is not the first time that the son and namesake of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was absent from a forum. He also declined a presidential interview with Jessica Soho of GMA Network that aired on Jan. 22, claiming she was biased.

Marcos, however, has participated in many other interviews such as the "Bakit Ikaw? The DZRH Presidential Job Interview" and a one-on-one interview with celebrity talk-show host Boy Abunda

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"What seems strange is that the leading candidate keeps on absenting himself from these events. It kind of reminds me of some of my students who had the tendency to cut classes," Teehankee told ANC.

He said presidential bets' fora or interviews can "reinforce or discredit a candidate's narrative." He said the Marcos camp wants to control its narrative by relying on social media.

This might backfire on the frontrunner, he warned.

"This strategy can also backfire. Those who live on social media can perish on social media. It remains a question whether it is actually a good strategy at this point in time to actually skip these interviews and fora," Teehankee said.

Marcos is also adhering to the "less talk, less mistake; no talk, no mistake" adage, claimed the professor, who noted that then Vice President Joseph Estrada, who was the frontrunner in the 1998 polls, deliberately skipped debates as part of his election strategy.

"Apparently, he's (Marcos) borrowing from the playbook of Joseph Estrada in 1998, who only attended only, if I remember correctly, two major debates and still won by a landslide," Teehankee said.

But he also recalled that the late movie star and presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. lost to then incumbent President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the 2004 presidential elections after he skipped the presidential debates despite leading in pre-election surveys.

"It's not a sure thing. Whether you're enjoying a very high popularity, it is ... not a sure thing that at the end of the game, you will hold on to that popularity," Teehankee said.

Marcos holds a double-digit lead over all his rivals in early surveys conducted by pollsters Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia.

Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, Marcos' political party, earlier said he declined to join the KBP forum due to a conflict in schedule.

Marcos' official Instagram page posted a video showing him being interviewed by veteran journalist Korina Sanchez. It was not clear though whether the clip was taken on the same day as the KBP forum.

Critics slammed Marcos's absence, saying it was a disservice to the country.

Marcos, 64, is facing possible disqualification, stemming from his previous conviction of non-filing of his income tax returns from 1982 to 1985. The ruling on the consolidated petitions for his disqualification are still pending before the Comelec's first division.