MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The camp of presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos denied Thursday that it was involved in the emergency alert sent to the public as the dictator's son filed his certificate of candidacy.
The alert, commonly used for disaster warning, was a "political sabotage" that was sent right when Marcos was filing his COC, according to his chief-of-staff, lawyer Vic Rodriguez. Rodriguez said he and Marcos both received the alert.
"No supporter of Bongbong Marcos resorted to such an underhanded method. His numbers are doing very, very well and we have common sense in our team. We will not do such a thing to undermine or undercut all the gains we’ve been getting after all the hard work these past few years, months...No way we’re going to resort to such an illegal use of a tool meant to save lives," he told ANC's Headstart.
"We did not and we will never resort to all these underhanded methods meant to sabotage and derail the political career of Bongbong Marcos."
The Commission on Elections, National Telecommunications Commission and Department of Information and Communications should look into the issue “seriously” as this will undermine the messaging alert system, said Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate.
“It will mislead the people into believing we are receiving this fake text alerts and they will no longer believe the veracity of a truthful text alert coming from NDRRMC or telcos during calamity disasters,” he told Headstart in a separate interview.
“This is an eye-opener that there are people who will use dubious campaign strategies in the coming elections just for them to probably be back in power.”
The NTC said it did not send the alert and was investigating the matter.
The text message blast was "location-specific," which does not need access to a contact list, according to National Privacy Commission chief Raymund Liboro.
"It’s really more of a spatial paramater and those within the area would catch it so it can be done without the use of contacts lists or databases. It would just be an SMS broadcast," he said when asked if the alert blast violated user privacy.
Marcos, meantime, is ready to answer allegations of plunder against him and his family, Rodriguez said.
"He’s more than ready. He’s been facing all these accusations, allegations for the past 35 years, and he’s ready for the next 7 months. What is 7 months compared to 35 years of being demonized?" he said.
As for remarks that the former senator did not do anything after losing in the 2016 elections to Vice President Leni Robredo, Rodriguez cited Marcos' popularity.
"If Bongbong Marcos was just sleeping the whole time during the past 5 years, why would his acceptance rating remain this high?" he said.
"I think ibang perspective ang pinanonoood nung nagkomentong yan (those who commented is watching a different perspective). These are not trolls, these are organic people responding to bashing. A lot of people have received help from Bongbong Marcos."
Marcos has instructed his camp to "rethink our position" on who will be his running mate,” Rodriguez said.
"Because we have to wait until October 8 or all the way until November 15, the last day of substitution," he said.
Since returning to the Philippines in 1991 from a 5-year exile in Hawaii after his father's overthrow in a "People Power" uprising, Marcos and his family has been trying to rebuild its image, which was tainted by human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship.
The government has recovered P174 billion in Marcos ill-gotten wealth, according to the Presidential Commission on Good Government.
The family denies any wrongdoing. Matriarch Imelda has been found guilty of several counts of graft in lower courts, but has won most of her appeals in higher courts. None of the members of the former first family has been imprisoned.
Zarate warned against having a Marcos-Duterte tandem in next year’s elections, even as Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has filed his COC for vice president under ruling party PDP-Laban.
“We know for a fact also that is not the real deadline. In the playbook of the Dutertes, November 15 will possibly be the real deadline,” he said.
“The danger of having a Marcos-Duterte tandem is really on the horizon. That is why this possibility of a dictator-tyrannical regime when this tandem wins in the 2022 elections is a real challenge for the non-administration candidates.”