Will Bongbong Marcos’ strategy of “No talk, no mistake” work for the voters?
Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will not be joining tomorrow’s presidential forum organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and to be hosted by ABS-CBN’s Karen Davila and CNN Philippines’ Rico Hizon due to “conflict in schedule.”
It can be recalled that Marcos likewise declined to participate in the presidential interview series hosted by Jessica Soho of GMA-7 two weeks ago because his camp claimed that the veteran journalist is biased against him. Marcos’ apparent aversion to the media has prompted his critics to promote the hashtags #BaBackOutMuli and #MarcosDuwag on social media.
It is important, therefore, to understand where Marcos is coming from. According to surveys released last December 2021, he is ahead of his nearest competitor VIce President Leni Robredo by as much as 30 points. However, the elections won’t happen until May 2022. Hence, he needs to protect his lead.
Marcos has not performed well during debates and unscripted interviews. In 2016, he skipped the second of two vice presidential debates after getting savagely attacked by his rivals during the first one. There’s also this famous clip of him taken during the same period where he got flustered after he was asked by Soho about the human rights abuses that happened during his father’s dictatorship.
Apparently, the axiom “no talk, no mistake” makes sense for Marcos because he did not inherit his father’s intellect and oratorical skills. Simply put, Marcos is doing the equivalent of how a basketball team tries to waste away the game time because it thinks that its lead is insurmountable. The problem with Marcos’ strategy is that the election cycle is not yet in its final stages. In fact, the official campaign period won’t start until February 8.
Now, Marcos is using the “it’s-us-against-them” narrative to fire up his supporters against mainstream media outlets, just like what his father did. However, it is possible that voters who used to lean toward Marcos merely because of name recall and parental or peer influence may be turned off by his consistant avoidance of tough questioning from journalists.
The quote “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt” commonly attributed to the late American writer Mark Twain appears more appropriate for Marcos.