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MANILA, Philippines – Skipping references to previous leaders and opponents, and skipping platforms too, presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr stuck to a disciplined message of unity on Tuesday, February 8, a campaign branding that could do no wrong given his survey numbers.
In a speech that lasted 20 minutes at his proclamation rally at the Philippine Arena on Tuesday, Marcos mentioned the Filipino word for unity 21 times.
“Ang pagkakaisa ay naging adhikain ko dahil sa aking tapat na paniniwala na ang pagkakaisa ay ang unang hakbang upang tayo ay makaraos na dito sa gitna ng krisis kung nasaan tayo, sa gitna ng krisis ng pandemya, sa gitna ng krisis ng ekonomiya na dala rin ng pandemya,” said Marcos.
(Unity is my advocacy because I believe that unity is the first step to recover from the crisis we are in, in the middle of the crisis of the pandemic, and in the middle of the economic crisis brought about by the pandemic.)
Unlike typical political speeches that usually hit rivals, Marcos used his proclamation to say he’s not out to make enemies.
“Hindi naman tayo palaaway, hindi naman tayo naghahanap ng gulo. Ang hangad lang natin ay magkaroon ng disenteng buhay para sa ating sarili, para sa ating pamilya, para sa ating bansa,” Marcos said.
(We’re not war freaks, we don’t look for trouble. All we want is decent life for ourselves, our families and our country.)
This strategy of keeping the message light and positive works for him in big ways, because it also avoids talking about the human rights abuses and corruption of his father during the dark period of Martial Law.
Marcos also didn’t mention any platform. He rarely does in his campaign events, as he is only compelled to detail his plans during media interviews, which he has been selective of so far.
The one staple from his speeches, repeated on Tuesday, is the appeal to nationalism: “Pararatingin natin hindi sa ating pinanggalingan kung hindi pasisikatin pa rin natin ang mahal nating Pilipinas. Para tayo ay haharap sa buong mundo at sasabihin muli natin, at isisigaw natin sa kanilang lahat na ako ay Pilipino, taas noo kahit kanino.”
(We will take the Philippines not to where it was before, but to bring our beloved country to greater heights. So we can face the whole world, and we can say again, shout to everyone that I am a Filipino, and proud.)
Sara’s solo rides
The only thing that can potentially shatter this theme of unity comes from the Uniteam itself – his running mate Sara Duterte has been doing solo events with her motorcycle rides.
During the proclamation rally, Sara Duterte still mentioned the senatorial bets of her choice, which aren’t in the UniTeam slate – Robin Padilla, Jejomar Binay, Chiz Escudero, Guillermo Eleazar, Salvador Panelo, JV Ejercito, and Joel Villanueva.
In an earlier interview, Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said Sara Duterte’s solo events were just a matter of scheduling.
And on stage at the Philippine Arena, Marcos opened his speech the way he always does – acknowledge Sara.
“Ako po ay ang pinakamapalad na presidential candidate dito sa halalang ito dahil ang aking naging partner, ang naging vice president, ay ang pinakamagaling, pinakamahusay at bukod sa lahat, may matibay na paninindigan sa pagmamahal sa Pilipinas, Mayor Inday Sara Duterte,” said Marcos.
(I am the luckiest presidential candidate in this elections because my partner, my vice president, is the best, most competent and most of all, has the strongest conviction and love for country, Mayor Sara Duterte.)
The 64-year-old son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is running for president against five major opponents – Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and labor leader Leody de Guzman, among others.