Clickbaiting

On March 21, 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte attended and delivered his speech during the Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte National Executive Coordinating Committee (MRRD-NECC) National Convention at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. The MRRD-NECC is a volunteer movement that supports the President’s advocacies including the change to a federal form of government for the Philippines.

On August 22, 2020, the MRRD-NECC moved a step forward and assembled at Clark Freeport to support a “revolutionary government” to be led by President Rodrigo Duterte until the end of his term in 2022. Duterte, however, disowned the group stating that “There are those coming out, saying they want one– a revolutionary government. Then they are saying that I’m the… (leader). I don’t care about that. I don’t know anyone there.” This, despite the fact that he addressed them two years ago and appointed to key government offices some of their leaders including the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Martin Diño.

But why would the President suddenly disown the group that had been supporting him all along and whose members he had appointed in government posts?

Clearly, if Mr. Duterte acknowledged the recent moves of the MRRD NECC, he will be considered as resigned. He was elected under the 1987 Philippine Constitution and swore to defend it. If he openly supports the revolutionary government that thrashes the very Constitution instrumental to his presidency, he automatically is considered resigned. This paves the way for Vice President Leni Robredo to take over his seat.

But if the move for revolutionary government had gained traction, his speech would have been different. Unfortunately, the Saturday event is ill-timed, and the Office of the Vice President cleverly set a check in the board game. Ms. Robredo’s message was clear: The government is there but it needs to function and if the leader sitting on the presidential seat is not working, she is ready to take action.

The words as well as the books say them all. And Mr. Duterte got the message loud and clear so, despite embracing the people behind the MRRD-NECC and acknowledging some of its officials like Diño, he had to disown the group the way Peter had to disown Jesus.

The Saturday event, however, was not totally an “unsanctioned” move. It was actually a clickbait designed to entice the population to do something. If one “clicks” it favorably, the result will be a continuing traction for the revolutionary government. Otherwise, or at least the population takes notice and discuss it, the time spent will provide a short respite for the Duterte Administration currently being blamed for the mishaps being experienced under the COVID-19 pandemic. An inaction could also be favorable to the clickbait. If nothing will be done, the movement and its events will become a record that Mr. Duterte and his supporters could always use as they craft the movement’s history.

Of course, the history is still being written. If this click baiting is not real, the current administration will be firing government officials involved in the MRRD-NECC and would be filing charges against the organizers for sedition. Isn’t the Duterte Administration keen on passing the Anti-Terrorism Law to protect the current government? So why a sedition case is not in order?

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