Robredo started ‘too late’ in her campaign, experts say

Screengrab from the “ANYARE? Post-Election Analysis” forum held through Zoom Meeting

VICE PRESIDENT Leni Robredo’s presidential campaign was “too late” since presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr’s campaign was already years in the making, media experts said.

“Apparently, their team [Marcos Jr’s] was already invested in the campaign. Leni was too late,” University of the Philippines (UP) statistics professor Erniel Barrios said in a post-election forum on Wednesday.

Manila Broadcasting Co. president Ruperto Nicdao Jr.  echoed Barrios’ statement, saying Marcos Jr’s team was ahead in conditioning the minds of people by spreading “disinformation and fake news.”

“Bongbong’s camp outran them. They tried their best to bring out disinformation and fake news. Unfortunately, Bongbong’s camp got ahead when it comes to mind conditioning… They got ahead of Leni’s group,” Nicdao added.

Marcos’ camp, Nicdao said, was able to develop a great strategy using extensive research, which led to the forging of a tandem with Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The ‘Duterte’ name is still a very popular name. Bongbong would not have won if Sara was running for president [so] the biggest strategy this campaign did was to unite the forces of the Marcoses [with the Duterte],” he said, labeling both politicians as populist candidates.

Marcos, who had consistently topped various surveys, is now the presumptive president as he enjoys a more than 16-million voter lead over Robredo, his closest rival.

However, some critics suspect that there were irregularities in the May 9 polls, citing the malfunctioning of several vote counting machines in different polling sites. They noted that some voters were asked to sign a waiver allowing the electoral board to process their ballots without their supervision.

Despite the allegations of fraud, Barrios said the partial and unofficial tally of votes is “statistically sound,” citing the central limit theorem (CTL) in statistics.

“[That is not] irregular. Statistically, there is nothing unusual with the proportion. That is what CLT is telling,” he said.

Screengrab from “ANYARE? Post-Election Analysis” forum held through Zoom Meeting.

However, Barrios acknowledged the possibility that something happened during transmission “but we can only know that during the manual counting.”

Manual counting by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting began on May 10, a day after the elections.


Distortion of facts

University of the Philippines (UP) journalism professor and College of Mass Communication associate dean Rachel Khan said the primary strategy of the Marcos-Duterte tandem was to spread misleading information that would attack Robredo.

“Social media is really easy because of what we call ‘algorithms.’ Disinformation becomes easier to spread once you enter a particular network because it will generate itself particularly,” Khan said.

Barrios added that TikTok and Youtube have also become the primary platforms that peddle disinformation.

Veteran broadcast journalist Ces Drilon said the widespread disinformation has demonized the media as a “deadly” source of fake news

Khan echoed the view, saying a lot more needs to be done “because we’re dealing with so much [disinformation] in digital media out there that can do a lot of damage.”

However, Khan said Robredo’s camp should have done more to address the widespread disinformation about the vice president.

“They (Robredo camp) let us [the media] correct it. Kung sinagot nila (Had they answered back)… they should have already ceased the negativity. They should have done more… in their campaign.” she said.

The virtual forum “ANYARE? Post-Election Analysis” was the final installment in the webinar series “National Forum on Communication and Democracy: Philippine Elections 2022 Series.” It was organized by the Philippines Communication Society in partnership with UP and TVUP. F

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