Rodrigo Duterte

[OPINION] Holiday neutering

Joey Salgado

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[OPINION] Holiday neutering
Politically neutering Duterte makes for good spectacle, a sideshow that could either end the Davao dynasty or strengthen it. The stakes are high, but the higher the risk, the bigger the gain.

At this time of the year, politics, our favorite spectator sport, usually takes a back seat to the more mundane concerns of prepping for Christmas. The nearer we get to December 25, the more distant we are from all the political noise.

For schemers and operators, it’s the ideal time to break the knees of selected targets. No one would care, save for the online trolls who must troll on through the holidays.

The decision of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to suspend the program hosted by former president Rodrigo Duterte and two die-hard red baiters who served under his administration is another stark reminder of shifting political fortunes. Duterte’s program was suspended after the MTRCB received complaints over the death threats made on air by the former president, and his use of profane language. You know, the same things that had him elected in 2016.  

The suspension would deny the irascible former leader a venue for his attacks against the administration. Granted it’s only for 14 days, we can all use some peace and quiet during the holidays, especially the Speaker. Who knows, by the time those 14 days are over, Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) might be yanked off the air by the House. So this one calls for another serving of liquid lunch.

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There is plenty of holiday cheer all around, even in the face of high prices and apocalyptic gridlock on the streets. Traffic has never been this crazy, but there is nothing that pa-morningan Christmas parties, videoke, and unli booze cannot fix. And there is boundless public optimism for the coming year, even when economic managers and business leaders are less upbeat because of El Niño.

It’s also the time when the public is more generous in rating their elected leaders. We can safely assume that the public has set aside, even for just one month, their frustration over the state of the economy and gave higher marks to the President and the Vice President. 

There is goodwill all around. And the goodwill offers another window for our leaders to focus on the issues that matter most to ordinary Filipinos, mainly jobs and prices. It shouldn’t be invoked as a license to commit acts that advance a political and personal agenda. But who are we kidding? 

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Too much politics could get in the way of governance, especially when the prognosis for the economy is not so rosy. Unless what we are witnessing is textbook wag the dog. 

Politically neutering Duterte makes for good spectacle, a sideshow that could either end the Davao dynasty or strengthen it. The stakes are high, but the higher the risk, the bigger the gain.

Besides, political maneuverings are a lot easier than managing the economy. And while the political class indulges in power plays and mutually-assured destruction, those who live on the economic edges continue to hope, every December, for a better year ahead. – Rappler.com

Joey Salgado is a former journalist, and a government and political communications practitioner. He served as spokesperson for former Vice President Jejomar Binay.

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