MANILA - A 96-second video that shows six industrial-size machines printing out tarpaulins bearing the face of Davao City Mayor “Inday” Sara Duterte-Carpio with the phrase “Run Inday Run” has circulated widely among social media users in the last 24 hours.
The tarps, coming in several shapes and sizes, carried the logo of Alyansa ni Inday Movement, the same group that held a motorcade on EDSA on Feb. 25, the 35th anniversary of the 1986 People Power Revolution, urging the presidential daughter to run in the 2022 polls for the country’s top job.
Duterte-Carpio has repeatedly said she is not running for the post in the coming elections. The president has maintained that his daughter is not seeking the country’s top post in 2022, saying the presidency is “not meant for women.”
In the circulating video, another name catches the eye of viewers: that of the printing press that produced the tarps. A further look into the company’s history shows it has taken on printing jobs for local and national government agencies, including the Philippine National Police (PNP).
In the video, which has circulated through private messaging and a few public posts on social media, three people are seen wearing red shirts with the word “benjas,” while a fourth wore a version printed on a white, long-sleeved top.
Zooming in on a CNN Philippines photo of one of the Alyansa ni Inday Movement tarps from the recent motorcade shows the following: “Designed and Printed By: Benjas Printing Services.”
A manual search for the company’s name on Facebook (FB) led to its page, Benjas Printing, which stated it was a company based in Libertad, Pasay City. Its profile picture was the same “benjas” logo printed on the shirts of the three men and a woman in the video.
The page’s cover photo was a picture that branded the company as the “2020 Official Publisher of the Philippine National Police” and featured a copy of Pulis Serbis Balita, the PNP’s official newsletter. This image was taken down yesterday afternoon and replaced with a company logo, but not before the connection went viral in a Twitter thread on Feb. 25.
A screengrab of the Benjas Printing Facebook page taken by VERA Files at 7 p.m. on Feb. 26 shows the earlier cover photo of the page, and a video post of “We Heal as One” tarps being printed.
A Dec. 14, 2020 video uploaded on the FB page also showed several machines printing “We Heal As One” tarpaulins. An identical-looking copy of the tarp can be seen hung at the Las Pinas City Police Station.
The Run Inday Run tarps appear to have been manufactured at the same place. A comparison of the two videos shows some similar red printing machines, cream-colored walls and orange piping.
The “We Heal As One” printing video was taken down by Benjas Printing yesterday evening and replaced with a different one.
The company is a registered merchant under the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System or PhilGEPS, the national online portal for government procurement.
A cursory search on Google shows that Benjas Printing Services has won bids to print business permit plates and working permits for the Pasay City local government in 2018, and health cards in 2019.
According to the winning bids, the company’s proprietor is Sonny “Mogs” Angeles, who ran for a Congressional post in 2019 under RAM Party-List.
It remains unclear who commissioned the Run Inday Run campaign materials and just how much was produced. VERA Files contacted the phone numbers previously available on the Benjas Printing FB page but an employee refused to comment nor confirm whether they printed the tarps.
Alyansa ni Inday Movement is not the only group that has organized activities calling for Duterte-Carpio to run. A variation of the call — Run Sara Run — printed on tarps and shirts has also sprouted in areas like Zamboanga del Sur, Cebu, several parts of Metro Manila, and Duterte-Carpio’s baluarte of Davao City.
The mayor has topped recent presidential preference surveys conducted by OCTA Research group from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1 and Pulse Asia late last year.
Earlier this month, Duterte-Carpio thanked her supporters for their trust and confidence in her but reiterated that she is not running for the presidency in 2022. She has appealed to her supporters to wait until 2034 for her to run for president.
Duterte-Carpio on Feb. 24 also called for a stop to the Run Sara Run movements in her city.
Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez has said the putting up of Run Sara Run banners technically do not count as premature campaigning, noting that there are no official candidates yet, but that such acts skew the playing field.
In an interview on ANC, Jimenez said: "You are putting a premium on the ability to go out and campaign this early, which means you have a bigger war chest, which means you have more money, which means that, ultimately, candidates with more resources are in a better position to win the elections.”
"I think people should reject candidates who are campaigning this early or who are tolerating people campaigning in their name even if they have not yet filed their certificates of candidacy," the Comelec official added.
(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”)