A great disservice to P-Noy
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2013-03-21
Messaging Secretary Ricky Carandang has been failing to communicate properly the good developments under the President Benigno S. Aquino III (P-Noy) administration. The goodwill and high trust and approval ratings that the P-Noy administration has built were more the effects of the positive foreign media reporting and not Carandang’s information management.

P-Noy’s situation is the classic case of an excellent product that’s very poorly communicated. That P-Noy enjoys immense positive coverage in the usually critical international press compared to media here exposes Carandang’s incompetence.

Carandang’s incompetence either goes unnoticed or is tolerated under normal conditions, especially when the government is achieving landmark accomplishments. The problem emerges when the government faces a serious crisis, when Ricky Carandang becomes the weak link that could sink the ship of state.

Propaganda — the battle for hearts and minds — becomes a vital battleground during a crisis. The EDSA People Power Revolution wasn’t fought with bullets and mortars but with imposing a mental position over the adversary. By February 25, 1986 the image of dictator Ferdinand Marcos was in such a tattered state. Insofar as the world was concerned, Marcos could do nothing right and Cory Aquino could do nothing wrong.

In the Sabah crisis, Carandang’s incompetence failed to communicate that since Day 2, there were already high officials of the P-Noy government who were meeting with the Kirams of the Sultanate of Sulu. He allowed the misimpression to fester that P-Noy was aloof to the appeals of the Kirams when in truth the administration was never lacking in sending representatives to meet with the Kiram family in trying to reach a mutually acceptable resolution. His incompetence fueled many emotions of people who do not hate P-Noy and made them perceive the president in a negative light.

Last March 4, P-Noy announced that our intelligence units are tracking a conspiracy that’s fueling the Sabah crisis. P-Noy’s announcement was based on A-1 intelligence reports. P-Noy even cited the high costs of sending a 200-man expedition to another country that is now engaged in the month-long shootout with Malaysian security forces, noting how the Kiram family could not have afforded it. All that time, the anti P-Noy media chorus were singing the same tune — signs of a puppeteer’s handiwork.

Instead of allowing P-Noy to announce more intelligence reports on the conspiracy, Carandang had to get into the act and promoted his own unbelievable wild version. This is the narration of one of the media people whom Carandang had invited in order to float his conspiracy theory: “We got a text message from Ricky one Sunday morning inviting us a small group talk on Sabah at a Makati hotel. Jim Gomez of AP (Associated Press) and Jason Gutierrez of AFP (Agence France Presse) were also there. Ricky was with a woman staff. It was a friendly exchange of what had happened in Sabah and what he thinks was happening. As journalists, we asked questions and Ricky was thinking aloud saying there must be something bigger than this. He said if there was Bert Gonzales and Boy Saycon there, there must be something more.”

Text messages ‑ guess from whom ‑ were circulating linking Pastor “Boy Saycon of COPA (Council on Philippine Affairs), Peping and Tingting Cojuangco, former Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, lawyer Oliver Lozano and the Marcos forces to a grand conspiracy utilizing the Sabah caper as its springboard. To a veteran political watcher, this is easily dismissed as rubbish.

There was no way that Saycon, Peping and Tingting will be involved in a conspiracy with the GMA and Marcos forces as bedmates. No way! There is also no way that Tingting, who is very close to the Masturas of the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front), will be involved with the camp of the Sultanate and its MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) supporters.

By Saycon’s admission, he is on his own in this Sabah caper. Saycon has been a long-time friend of Sultan Jamalul Kiram, even carried Kiram in his 2007 senatorial ticket. He believes that it’s to our national interest to pursue the Sabah claim. We differ, as it’s my stated view that this Sabah claim is now just a pipe dream.

Where this Carandang version of a conspiracy theory would seem to take off is from the unfinished resentment of the camp of Secretary Mar Roxas against the NoyBi promoters during the 2010 elections. Saycon and Peping became the targets of many verbal attacks by the Mar camp after the loss and the subsequent filing of Mar’s election protest. Little attention was paid to the fact that Jojo Binay’s 2 percent margin of victory was precisely what the last SWS and Pulse Asia polls forecasted. It’s not as if Mar was winning by 5 percent in the last polls and suddenly lost by 2 percent when the vote count came.

Ricky Carandang cannot even satisfy the demands of P-Noy’s messaging requirements. He should refrain from attempting to serve a second master — Mar Roxas. He’ll end up sinking two political powerhouses because of his incompetence. Carandang should just focus on the 2010 presidency of P-Noy and leave Mar’s 2016 aspirations to other competent professionals.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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A great disservice to P-Noy

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