Sep 11, 2018

What does it mean when high-ranking officials speaking for the President fail to do so with one voice?

Confusion most likely, especially when you serve a chief executive known to negate his own statements in a matter of minutes while on the podium.

We can imagine frustration, followed by speculations about who tells the truth. If the President’s men cannot put their act together, imagine the scenes taking place inside the Palace walls as officials scramble to take turns at the mic.

The spectacle that unfolded earlier today reflects the troubling situation in Malacañang right now.

It began yesterday afternoon with presidential spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque announcing President Duterte will hold a press conference today, Tuesday, Sept. 11.

The date caused a mild disturbance among netizens, ominous as it being the 101st birth anniversary of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. (Roque’s announcement even fueled long-standing rumors of a plan to extend nationwide the martial law now in place for more than a year in Mindanao.)

It did not help that Roque failed to cite a specific reason for the news conference. The spokesperson admitted he had no idea what the President wanted to say.

As if to compensate, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go chirped in that the forum will be done “showbiz”-style, whatever that meant.

That members of the Malacanang Press Corps were asked to draw lots to determine the lucky ones who can field questions the following day was proof that yes, the President was serious about facing the media.

Then comes presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo, telling a television anchor less than an hour before today’s 3 p.m. announcement that “there was no scheduled press conference in the first place.”

Heads were scratched and reporters’ notes were checked immediately after that. Then Roque faced reporters anew and said the press conference is not cancelled but will push through “under a modified format.”

He later meant President Duterte would give an exclusive interview, a tete-a-tete to Panelo.

President Duterte continues to talk to Panelo as this story is uploaded.  They are discussing the presidential amnesty given by his predecessor Benigno Aquino III to rebel soldier-turned-senator Antonio Trillanes following the coup attempts he led against then President Gloria Arroyo.

Panelo is reading a court doctrine directly in front of the camera, apparently to justify the Proclamation 572 that Mr. Duterte signed voiding the amnesty given to Trillanes, currently his most bitter political opponent.

The contradictory announcements that preceded the ongoing “press conference” between the President and his chief legal counsel may be buried in the news by whatever they will declare this afternoon.

We must remember though, that the drama that preceded this “tete-a-tete,” as Roque described it clearly reflects the cracks in Mr. Duterte’s leadership.  Licensed lawyers who cannot get their act together mean a lot.  Panic, for one.



TAGS: Duterte duterte press con rodrigo duterte