ENRAGED supporters of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte took to social media Friday to express their dismay over a TV advertisement showing children condemning the behavior of their candidate.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, who commissioned the negative campaign ads against Duterte, said he saw nothing wrong as he urged voters—who are also parents—to consider the future of their children, who would be most affected if Duterte wins the presidency on May 9.
Duterte’s running mate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, secured a temporary restraining order on the airing of the political advertisements against Duterte on ABS-CBN.
In the 30-second spot, five children react negatively to the mayor’s controversial remarks and acts, including threats to kill criminals, cursing Pope Francis, and his comments about the rape and murder of an Australian missionary.
The ad aired on ABS-CBN Thursday night and is also posted on YouTube.
“Is this what you want?” One of the children in the commercial said in Filipino.
“It is wrong to kill people!” another one said, referring to the mayor’s promise to kill all criminals.
“Is it right to curse the Pope?” another one asked.
“Please teach us what is right,” a child said over Duterte’s statements supporting the Communist New People’s Army.
“It is not right to harass a woman,” another girl said.
Minutes after the negative advertisement of Duterte went to air in primetime, the trending topic “DUTERTE TILL THE END” made it to second place in social networking site Twitter to condemn the alleged “black propaganda” attempt against the mayor.
Duterte supporters also called for a boycott of the station.
On Twitter, @gayswiftie13 said: “Grabe na high blood ako sa anti-duterte ads ni Trillanes still Duterte.”
“ABS-CBN and GMA just aired anti-Duterte ads on TV. Both were funded by Trillanes’ camp. Where did all that money come from?”, said @ALEXASACLAO.
Some Duterte supporters said that the ad won’t change their minds on who to support.
“They thought making those ads will make us throw our faith to other candidates but no, it grew even stronger. Duterte till the end,” said @SeanPepito.
Trillanes, who paid for the negative campaign advertisements, said that the intention of the advertisement was to deliver the message for voters to rethink their decision to vote for Duterte.
“The truth definitely hurts,” Trillanes said in a statement.
“The children were purposely used to hammer the message that they should always be part of the consideration in our choice of leaders of the country not only because it is for their future but also because they will emulate these leaders,” he added.
Duterte supporters meanwhile, insisted that the use of children in political advertisements is condemnable, saying it exploits them for political propaganda.
But Trillanes dismissed these allegations.
“Dutertards are suddenly concerned about children? Yet they laugh every time Duterte cusses and jokes about his penis and rape not realizing that children are listening too? Such hypocrisy, right? Now, that’s what the ad is all about too,” Trillanes said.
On Friday afternoon, Duterte’s running mate Senator Alan Pete Cayetano secured from the Taguig Regional Trial Court a preliminary injunction against ABS-CBN Corp. and its top executives before the Regional Trial Court of Taguig City. The respondents are ABS-CBN chairman Eugenio Lopez III, Augusto Almeda-Lopez, Carlo Katigbak, Socorro Vidanes, and August Benitez to stop airing the political advertisement.
In issuing a restraining order, the court agreed with Cayetano that the ad “shows minors being used in black propaganda.”
It also cited the Broadcast Code of 2007 which states that “[n]o program or sponsor shall be allowed to manifestly favor or oppose any candidate or political party.”
A third reason for its decision was “the truth to the claim that petitioner’s right to reply will be denied considering that the election day is so close now.”
Once the initial TRO lapses, Cayetano wants a 20-day TRO “enjoining and restraining respondents and all persons acting on their behalf or under their direction from airing or continuing to air negative political advertisements aimed to discredit” him and Duterte.
ABS-CBN defended its decision to air the commercial, saying it was duty-bound to show a legitimate advertisement, and said it violated no election laws.
Another station, TV5, said that it didn’t air the material as it didn’t pass its ethical guidelines.
GMA did not comment on the issue.
The Comelec on Friday said it could not stop the airing of the anti-Duterte ad because it violated no laws.
The Palace denied suggestions that it was behind the expensive TV campaign against Duterte.
While the intention of the ad was to pull votes away from Duterte, University of the Philippines professor Danilo Arao said the move could backfire.
“The problem with negative campaigning is that it could backfire as the targeted candidate ends up unscathed and the perpetrators are the ones put in a bad light instead. In the context of advertising ethics, there should be truth [not spin] in the contents of a negative campaign for the message to be clearly sent,” he added.
Political analyst Ramon Casiple said it was too late for some voters to change their minds.
“By this time many people had already made up their mind, the issues are too late, they won’t affect,” Casiple, the executive director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform said in a television interview over ANC.
In the Palace, President Benigno Aquino III said he was pushing an effort for administration candidate Manuel Roxas II to work with rival candidates to stop Duterte, asking them to join forces against the mayor.
“I am trying to get all of these different voices together and in that sense, perhaps help our candidate get together and have that united front,” Aquino told CNN Philippines.
“Mayor Duterte has about 30 percent so that’s mean he doesn’t have the rest of 70 percent. In any democratic system, it is the majority that decides for everybody. Therefore, it behooves everybody to try and get together and ensure that instead of thinking about what shall we do if everything he says is exactly what he tells to do, why don’t we remove that problem or that threat, or that insecurity by uniting the 70 and defeating the 30,” said Aquino.
He said if only two candidates joined forces, this would give them 40 percent against Duterte’s 30 percent.
He said he had talked to Roxas and had a text exchange with Senator Grace Poe, but this was “inconclusive.”
The final major opinion poll ahead of Monday’s vote showed Duterte widening his lead, with 33 percent of respondents in the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey backing him.
Aquino feared the possible consequences if Duterte “does exactly what he intends to do” if wins the elections and be elected the next President of the country.
Duterte has promised a “bloody” fight against criminality.
He has also said he plans to abolish Congress if lawmakers move to impeach him.
Poe on Friday night rejected a call for unity talks.
“He can talk to me anytime…. But what is clear is that I’m not bowing out of the presidential race,” Poe said. “We have gone through many challenges. What we are carrying here are the dreams and the hope of our countrymen that should not be postponed,.”
Poe was reacting to a call by Roxas to talk about unity.
“I call on Senator Grace Poe. Grace, let’s talk. I will adjust schedules to your convenience. Just tell me where and I will go. This is for unity. This is for our country. This is for our future,” Roxas said in a press briefing at the ruling Liberal Party’s headquarters in Balay, Cubao, Quezon City.
Citing the “very divisive and vicious” campaign, Roxas called on Poe to rethink of her options as he called for unity and asked her to “consider the good of the country.”
“The future of the country and our countrymen is more important than our political career and any of the politicians and the candidates,” Roxas said.
The administration bet added that a possible Duterte presidency has already done damage “to the country and our democracy.”
“Uncertainty and the specter of a dictatorship are looming over our country once again. The peso has dropped, affecting everything from the price of oil, medicines, steel, other imported goods; investors are putting plans on hold; and after six years of the corrupt being on the run, we now face the possibility of a leader coming to power who cares nothing about honesty, integrity, transparency, responsibility, or even just basic decency,” he added.
Sources inside the ruling party however, said that despite the announcement, Roxas will not back out from the presidential race.
Roxas didn’t give any interviews afterward.
Roxas and Poe are now statistically tied in second place in almost all survey, but still in an 11-point gap behind Duterte.
Also on Friday, former President Fidel V. Ramos said Duterte was not a communist.
“If by talking and being friendly with Joma (Jose Maria) Sison makes Mayor Duterte a communist, I must then be in a far worse situation,” he said.
He said Duterte’s move to reach out to Sison of the National Democratic Front was even laudable, adding it was a necessary step to “heal a divided nation.” – With Sandy Araneta and Rio N. Araja
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