Tiktokers for #MamaLeni

All of a sudden, social media was awashed with tiktok videos extolling the virtues of Leni Robredo!

It was as if these young content creators who have gained wide viewership with short clips that are funny found the holy grail for their genre.

By its nature, Tiktok videos are incongruent with politics. It’s like mixing oil and water.

But in their desperation, the PR handlers of Robredo offered these kids — yes literally kids as in minors — oodles of money to create Tiktok videos about her and boost her poor image with less than 10 months before the elections.

Well, this PR effort fell on its face almost as soon as it began.

With the deluge of Leni Tiktok videos, it became apparent that this was a giant attempt to keep the vice president’s hopes for a Malacanang bid in the 2022 elections alive.

There wasn’t even a smooth transition to disguise the marketing campaign. What they could have done was begin with just one, then two, then three Tiktok creators to make it appear like it was an idea that caught fire. That it was organized, with plenty of money, wasn’t hard to unravel.

Worse, one young Tiktoker came out on Facebook to squeal on the offer made to him to join the “bandwagon” — a P15,000 fee to put Robredo into his content. “My politics is not for sale,” he said.

It’s funny how the dilawans accuse pro-Duterte supporters as state-funded trolls, and then be exposed as putting into motion a glaring troll farm, recruiting many minors in the process and corrupting their minds with instant cash. Hasn’t it occured to them that this is detestable? More odd is the fact that mainstream media has kept quiet about a program to corrupt young minds for dilawan politics!

Troll farms

By last count, 13 senators have signed the resolution calling for yet another investigation into allegations that public funds are being used for the operation of “troll farms” that purportedly manufacturers an endless stream of fake news to prop the image of the Duterte administration and bash its political opponents.

With elections just beyond the horizon — nine months and a few days — this initiative led by LIberal Party senators apparently wants to disable any such capability to influence the public mind on issues. It is fueled by the results of the latest Pulse Asia survey showing incumbent senators at the bottom of the heap facing a real threat of being wiped out of the upper house.

These senators are barking at the wrong tree. “Troll farms” are supposed to manufacture fake news and flood the social media streams to control the flow of public thought. But looking at what is happening in the country and its state of affairs, there is no need for troll farms, and fake news, because good news is flowing with abundance on a daily basis. And the good news is propagated by real Filipinos who want to defend the Duterte administration against the daily slew of disinformation and fake news from the opposite side of the fence.

There are trolls and there are trolls on both sides of the fence. Is there government funding for the pro-Duterte trolls? Maybe. But I don’t think it can be established unless the Senate employs high-tech forensics experts to trace the URLs of known troll accounts. Do these senators think any of the computers used for such a propaganda operation could be traced to Malacanang? I doubt it. Why work from a place that would compromise the operation?

These senators have short memories. About a decade ago, a controversy erupted over the discovery that the office of then Palace communications guru Ricky Carandang was engaged in “social media” propaganda. Carandang purchased expensive Apple Macbooks and Blackberrys for his staff to ensure a steady flow of propaganda on Facebook and Twitter. IG wasn’t born yet, and YouTube not as popular as it is now.

Now that was a real state-funded troll farm. If it’s just putting out press releases and feed to mainstream media, two or three good writers would have sufficed. There really wasn’t that much news emanating from Malacanang anyway. Carandang’s use of social media was pioneering in government propaganda. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t last long in the job. So many controversies enveloped him because of his arrogance, and he was ultimately shown the exit door.

As I mentioned in my YouTube livestream, it is the oligarchy-backed opposition that has a massive infrastructure for fake news. It might not fit into the description of troll farms, but the objective is no different — to misinform and mislead. Mainstream media and celebrities are at the forefront of this high-end troll farm, especially ABS-CBN.

Lest we forget, ABS-CBN, with the guidance of Edwin Lacierda and Abigail Valte, engineered the fake ambush on Miss Kim Chiu on March 4, 2020. With the lights on its franchise dimming, ABS-CBN was scrambling for ideas on how to destabilize the Duterte administration and force his ejection from office. The effort was a flop. And I exposed the fakery of the entire operation.

Numbers crunching time for Leni Robredo

Business executives call it “numbers crunching”.

It’s a time for them to review their balance sheets and make decisions about next courses of action. In business, it’s always about making profits.

Politicians also do numbers crunching – scrutinizing poll surveys and analyzing what is going well and what is not. For politicians with intentions on running in the May 9, 2022 elections, the last six months are likely to have been spent doing just that — crunching numbers. There is a science in poll surveys that cannot be taken lightly, and these periodic samplings of the voters’ pulse have become a reliable gauge to guide campaign strategies. The poll surveys can also be a guide on whether to run or not.

This is now the difficult task for Vice President Leni Robredo.

Her numbers have been consistently low for the last five years. It’s a reason for worry because her images have been literally plastered all over mainstream media, and so much airtime have been alloted for interviews for the mileage every politician covets. That has been reinforced by a social media program on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Such exposure is more than enough to put Robredo among the frontrunners at this time.

It’s clear her marketing strategy and tactics have nothing to show as results. It is becoming clear those relentless efforts at winning the hearts and minds of Filipino voters have failed. Her last poll survey rating of 6% in distant sixth place is discouraging.

In an interview with Christian Esguerra on ANC’s “After the Fact” on Tuesday night, Ms. Robredo had to admit this is what is making it hard for her to decide on whether to run or not. She cannot hope to accomplish a repeat performance of her 2016 vice presidential bid where she started off at 1% one year before the elections. At the time, she was unknown, and only her brand as the widow of the late Jesse Robredo gave her the slightest name recognition.

The political landscape is vastly different, Ms. Robredo confessed.

In 2016, she was running only for Vice President. She belonged to an administration party that controlled vast resources, not to mention the overflowing campaign kitty raised from the Disbursement Acceleration Program with the help of Janet Lim Napoles. The political machinery down to the barangay level was colossal. And there was the magic carpet she was made to ride by Andy Bautista to propel her past Bongbong Marcos — Smartmatic.

Today, the Liberal Party is in shambles. Even the incumbent Senators eligible to run again are almost certain to lose in next year’s elections. Janet Lim Napoles is now in prison. And the death of its leader, former President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, last month didn’t lift the image of the dilawan political brand as many followers had hoped. Its last standard bearer, Mar Roxas, has hung up his gloves. He is now busy playing with his kids, obviously trying to overcome depression. Roxas is dejected about being rejected thrice

And the bottomline, now virtually alone to face the battle, Ms. Robredo doesn’t have the money to mount a nationwide campaign. There is nothing in the horizon that can serve as a beacon of hope.

These are factors that are swirling in Ms. Robredo’s mind now as we approach the period for filing of certificates of candidacy on October 1-8. That’s only two and a half months away. If this were a game of chess, Ms. Robredo has only a minute left on her clock with a most disadvantageous position.

Defeat is certain if she runs; her pride would be wounded severely if she backs out of the game.

My unsolicited advice is that she should withdraw from the race right away. It would be unfair for the opposition to be kept waiting. Only a miracle can change the equation. Maybe she is still hopeful President Duterte will be forced out of office, or even die, to pave the way for succession.

But that is not going to change the outcome at the polls, because the Fiilipino people will get angrier if her wish is granted. It will be a political tsunami that will sweep her in defeat in the unlikely event that happens.

Fake news on GMA 7’s “poop” by China vessels traced to dilawans

I’ve said it time and again, and I’ll say it again.

In this day and age, fake news are easy to track down and expose.

That already happened with the dishonesty shown by Simularity, Inc. and GMA 7 in using a photograph of a dredging vessel causing damage to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia way back in October 2014 and make it seem like an actual image of a Chinese vessel spewing human waste into the West Philippine Sea.

Now, the venerated columnist Bobi Tiglao has done it again: he exposed Simularity as a propaganda front of the dilawans to spread lies against China. And Tiglao raises the question about whether or not the U.S. State Department, or the CIA, could have put up the $1 million that the brother of a former Aquino government cabinet member infused into what was moribund company on July 17, 2018. That’s just three years ago.

Simularity washed its hands from any culpability in using that damning photograph from “The Daily Mail”. It blamed GMA 7 for failure to double-check its attribution in fine print that the ship was unknown with its source indicated underneath. Was GMA alone in this apparent act of spreading fake news?

Hell, no.

There was malice in Simularity’s use of that photograph. The intent to raise a furor by showing a picture of a ship with murky water in its wake was palpable. There was nothing in the caption that would warn the reader that the vessel wasn’t Chinese, and that it wasn’t in the act of dumping human waste as an accompanying illustration to the article. And that certainly accomplished its purpose: it raised hell among Senators who fell for the fake news.

It’s sad because GMA 7 merely removed the offending picture without offering an apology. Simularity said it had asked “the irresponsible news organization” to publish a retraction. GMA 7 pretended as if nothing happened. That is cowardice.

That embarassing episode is now aggravated by what Tiglao has unearthed.

In his column appearing in The Manila Times today, Tiglao discovered that Simularity was a mediocre technology company founded in Delaware, U.S.A. in 2011. Its business was providing clients with data on “changes on the earth surface” using images downloaded from a satellite of the European Space Agency.

But as the website of ESA would show, its powerful satellites are used to monitor “gradual changes” in the earth’s surface such as the gradual clearing of rainforests, the annual rise in global sea level, and an increase in the number and intensity of wildfires.

With this in mind, the question begs to be asked: how can Simularity monitor the build-up of human waste in the open sea when any discharge is carried away by strong currents? It’s not as if the “poop” discharge is weighed down by an anchor so that it stays in place for generations to come, such that its accumulation can be detected from space.

Liz Derr is guilty of exagerrating her report when she said there are now two man-made things visible from space — the Great Wall of China and the “poop” concentrations in the Spratlys. “When ships don’t move, the poop piles up,” she said.

That is plain stupidity. Even an elementary school pupil understands that in open sea, nothing remains stationary. Certainly, human waste piling up in that part of the world is impossible. It’s not an earth-surface latrine where the poop stays in the dug-out for a long period of time. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

But there’s more to it.

Tiglao found out that Peter Abaya, brother of former DOTC Secretary Joseph Abaya, invested $1 million in the company on July 17, 2018 through his company, Shatter Tech Venture Holdings.

What was it about Simularity that attracted Abaya’s brother to pour a cool million dollars in that company? And why did Simularity quickly change its packaging to become a technology-company keeping a tight watch over what was happening in the West Philippine Sea? And how did Simularity’s so-called “poop report” draw the attention of Philippine media to warrant an on-line interview with Derr?

If you ask me, Simularity was set-up as a propaganda vehicle for the oligarchs who have set their eyes on the gas and oil underneath the West Philippine Sea. It’s not hard to see the connection.

Nokia, the Liberal Party and why Leni Robredo is destined to lose

Not too long ago, Nokia was the giant in the telecommunications industry. Almost everyone owned a Nokia, although there were other brands in the market (Alcatel, Sony Ericsson and Motorola among others). Before that, Motorola was the king in the market. But where are these brands now? Almost gone to oblivion.

The market is now dominated by Apple, Samsung and Huawei. With rapid advances in technology, these companies introduce upgraded models to give consumers more choices and better capabilites. The first smart phones were packed by more computing power than the massive main-frame computers packed into buildings for the Apollo missions that ultimately took man to the moon. In a span of one decade, that power tripled and quadrupled and more.

Twenty-five years ago, nobody could have foreseen that the Nokia 3300 hand-held phone was a dinosaur of a gadget for a brand that almost vanished entirely from the face of the earth. Nokia is still around, but its efforts to regain its foothold in the market have accomplished so little. The Finnish company became so comfortable in its position as market leader it ignored warning signals that the telecommunications industry was about to experience tectonic shifts.

In politics, the fate of Nokia is the same thing that has befallen to the Liberal Party, the once great political party that produced Presidents, Senators and Congressmen over 75 years ago. It reached its peak when the late Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III was propelled to the highest post of the land in the 2010 elections, with much help from the emotional outpouring of Filipinos upon the death of his mother, the late Corazon C. Aquino.

As the party in power in 2010, the Liberal Party had everything a political power could possibly desire. The yellow ribbon became a national icon which became popular as windshield and bumper stickers. Dilawan was a label worn with pride. It looked like the victory of Aquino was the start of a long era of rule for the LP, with Mar Roxas getting ready to succeed his political and personal friend by 2016.

But the arrogance of power corrupted the Liberal Party. It became consumed by desire to perpetuate itself in power. How else to better accomplish that than corrupting the democratic institutions to remove any and all obstacles to feed that hunger. Thus was born the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP), a thinly disguised scheme to destroy the enemies of the Liberal Party and reward its allies with pieces of silver, so to speak. Stealing from the public treasury was given legitimacy, albeit for a short period of time only.

As this was happening, Mr. Aquino’s weaknesses as a leader unravelled one after another. It started with the Luneta hostage incident that resulted in the death of eight tourists as well as the disgrunted policeman who had hijacked their chartered bus. Poor judgment and inability to put the right people for a tough job began to emerge as the trademark of the Aquino administration. The problems started to pile up: the MRT and LRT frequently broke down because of mismanagement and corruption, the illegal drugs situation worsened, Yolanda relief and rehabilitation was bungled, the infamous Mamasapano massacre that took the lives of 44 SAF troopers, and Dengvaxia, just to name a few.

Against this backdrop of corruption and incompetence, the nation saw an ambitious Mar Roxas showing insensitivity to what was happening and just keep his eyes on the Presidency in 2016.

Essentially, like Nokia, the Liberal Party forgot to look at the rapidly changing environment and adapt to the people’s needs and wants. The people were disillusioned, and yet, LP ignored the writing on the wall. LP believed nothing could stop its goal of becoming the party in power for decades to come because of the overflowing campaign warchest it had amassed from Janet Lim Napoles and the DAP. It believed its own propaganda that yellow symbolized clean and honest government, when the exact opposite was being exposed.

Illegal drugs and criminality made the Philippines a dangerous place in the minds and hearts of most Filipinos. The people saw through the propaganda and understood drug lords were becoming the power elite that funded politicians like Leila de Lima. If the Aquino government didn’t want to take action, then the people took matters into their own hands. Their weapon: the ballot.

Somehow, that lesson didn’t sink into the minds of the Liberal Party. Its leaders still held on to the notion that the color yellow was an effective marketing tool for their brand of governance. In 2019, the party managed to field only eight candidates. Towards the end of the campaign, Roxas detached himself from the LP line-up and declared he was an independent candidate. He realized, too late, that the “dilawan” label was a ticket to defeat. Roxas suffered the worst fate a politician can experience — losing as Vice President, President and Senator.

Roxas predicted correctly that the Otso Deretso was headed for disaster; he failed to bail out before their plane plummeted to the sea of political doom.

The Liberal Party became the Nokia of politics. Once dominant, now a symbol for dinosaur politics. Not even the death of their leader, Noynoy Aquino, breathed new life into the party as what many of them had hoped.

The handlers of Vice President Leni Robredo refused to heed the lessons of the last two elections. Political scientist Dr. Julio Teehankee had warning the other month that the “dilawans” needed to change their narrative in order to regain bouyancy in the turbulent seas of politics. Teehankee pointedly told the dilawans their usual “Duterte is bad” messaging wasn’t working. The dilawans needed to demonstrate what they could do differently and persuade Filipinos voters to give them a second chance. His advice fell on deaf ears.

With less than 10 months to go before election day, the challenge confronting the Liberal Party and their allies is like raising Lazarus from the dead. The poll surveys have been consistent: Robredo struggled to keep her head above water in rough seas. Her last poll showed a slight slip from 8 to 6 percent. It was funny how her spokesman, Atty. Barry Gutierrez could even describe that as “respectable”.

Robredo should get out of the game while there is time. To run and lose is to validate what most Filipinos have long believed — she had won the vice presidency through cheating.

Pacquiao’s approval, trust ratings fall after PDP-Laban squabble

Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao has a big problem.

While he was training for his boxing bout with Errol Spence, Jr., the PDP-Laban national assembly removed him as acting president and put his arch-nemesis Alfonso Cusi in his stead. It was a knock-out punch that his own party-mates delivered as rebuke for his arrogance. All of a sudden, he became just an ordinary member of PDP-Laban.

His problems didn’t end there.

Only yesterday, a survey on the approval and trust ratings for incumbent Senators showed that Pacquiao suffered a significant decline in the numbers. Publicus Asia reported that Pacquiao’s disapproval rating jumped by 23%, from 12% in the first quarter to 35% in the second quarter.

Pacquiao’s approval rating consequently fell — from 66% in the first quarter to 37%. It’s a 29% drop that can only indicate that his actions during the last three months earned him disfavor from more Filipinos.

His trust rating also plummeted from 53% to 25%.

In my opinion, this precipitous drop in his approval and trust ratings are the result of his declaration to run for President. It does not take in account his “expose” on alleged corruption last July 3 before leaving for the U.S. that was quickly demolished as a fraud. Neither did it consider the “punch drunk” description of him by the President two weeks ago. The survey covered only the months of April to June.

I’m certain the falling numbers are influenced heavily by public perception that Pacquiao has disrespected the President over his remarks about the West Philippine Sea issue and attacks on Cusi. The slide will likely continue in the third quarter over his “corruption has tripled” accusations in July and a growing public anger over his abandonment of his Senate duties to fight with Errol Spence.

This could signal the downfall of Pacquiao unless he is able to return to his senses and apologize to the President and the Filipino people.

The ICC has no business meddling in our country

Th International Criminal Court must realize by now that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte hardly fits into the mold of the criminal tyrants that it needs to prosecute and convict.

Why?

How can you call a leader who is so well-loved by his people at a time when the term “lameduck” should be hanging heavy on his chest?

We have seen criminal tyrants in the world, and we know how repugnant their deeds have been. But these tyrants murdered their people on a whim, often on account of religious beliefs. We have seen wholesale massacres that didn’t spare women, children and the elderly. Such leaders must indeed be held to account for their evil acts.

President Duterte, however, is not like that. If there are victims of extra-judicial killings, a vast majority of them can be attributed to their involvement in illegal drugs and criminality. Fighting illegal drugs is a messy chore. Bloodshed is always an accessory to the trade, with many killings perpetrated by the syndicates. The Filipino people know that, and President Duterte is being accused of encouraging police action to eliminate drug pushers, they apparently support and condone it.

An emotional moment for Filipinos

The final State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday, July 26, 2021, would rank as the most watched and applauded event in his five-year reign. Despite the usual detours from his prepared speech, and the laborious length of about two hours and 40 minutes, Duterte’s SONA accomplished what every speech should: PENETRATE THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE AUDIENCE.

Millions of Filipinos became teary-eyed as President Duterte confessed the job was harder than he had expected, aggravated by Covid 19 and a string of natural calamities. One could easily see the frustration and lament — and he did use the word “lamentation” — in the man who risked everything to bring about the radical changes needed to set the nation on a straight course toward a prosperous nation.

It didn’t fit the standards by which politicians and journalists and academics would want to see in a SONA. But that is immaterial. President Duterte drew praises ordinary Filipinos here and abroad. Throughout the last five years, President Duterte defied conventions. He flirted with the law, pushed it hard to the limits, each time triggering angry shouts of protests from opposition politicians and human rights groups.

The President put things in right perspective when he said: “They clamor for the protection of human rights. I want to protect human lives.” Indeed, the tragedy that have befallen on the victims of drug-induced rapes and murders are never articulated in the protestations of these hypocrites. Neither have they presented ideas on how to curb the illegal drugs problem.

When he promised to stop illegal drugs, President Duterte thought he could put the Davao model into action for the entire Philippines. It is no secret that in Davao City, involvement in illegal drugs was a magnet to police operations that often had violent endings. He had miscalculated the problem.

The illegal drugs trade enjoyed protection at the highest levels of government. He discovered that nine police generals were behind the extensive protection racket with tentacles in the Bureau of Customs. Had he dug deeper, he would be shocked to know that a senator was a giant wall upon which drug lords had depended on protection.

President Duterte has one more year in office, and with this outpouring of support during his last SONA, I hope to see him take firmer action against illegal drugs and corruption. Both are closely intertwined. It would be good to see cases filed against the real criminals in society — the architects of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).

Teaching kids how to write

Teaching your kids how to write, and help build a strong foundation for their future.

In any age, good writing skills are always an advantage for every individual. Its importance is even bigger in this era of social media, when we need to write brief and concise posts to convey our ideas. Good thinking is equated with good writing, and vice versa. This is the reason every parent should want to see their children grow up into good writers.

But unlike all other subjects, there is no formal course for teaching children how to write. In fact, the best writers didn’t learn their craft in the classroom. Teaching writing in the traditional sense of education doesn’t exist. There is no one method or approach to teaching children how to write.

I speak from experience. I’ve reached a point that I can fairly say that my writing skills would be proximate to excellent. At 60, I’ve probably written millions and millions of words, most of them…

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Leni loves to ride GRAB (Credit-grabber)

Ignore the surveys? 1Sambayan needs its feet back on the ground

In case of emergency, break the glass and press the lever to squeeze out a steady stream of lies to put out the fire of reality.

This must be what the convenors of 1Sambayan have on their cue card as they struggle to remain relevant in the fast approaching (yes, fast because it’s less than 10 months away) national and local elections. The period for filing of certificates of candidacy for the thousands of positions to be contested on May 9, 2022 has been set on October 1 to 9, which is just two months away. In a game of chess, this is “panic time” with 1Sambayan having less than a minute on its clock, with the Duterte administration enjoying a superior position and plenty of time left.

“Ignore the surveys,” said Renato Magtubo, one of 1Sambayan’s leaders declared on Friday, July 23.

What?

Magtubo is trying to comfort politicians 1Sambayan is trying to lure into its camp and fill up the list of candidates for president, vice president and senators. Apparently, the latest survey results published by Pulse Asia has scared off the politicians they have been trying to bring board. With Sara Duterte enjoying a formidable lead despite not showing an interest in running, any political analyst will conclude that it’s an uphill journey for the dilawan-led opposition. That Senator Ping Lacson had jumped the gun on everybody doesn’t help their cause at all.

It is an exercise in self-delusion. 1Sambayan is stuck up with Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV. The body language of Robredo tells me she’s backing out of the race. Only Trillanes remains enthusiastic about being the standard bearer of 1Sambayan. Well, Trillanes is another fool believing his own “Magdalo surveys” that he claims puts him on the trajectory to victory.

1Sambayan is a sunken derelict

Senator Ping Lacson is out of the game, as far as 1Sambayan convenor Antonio Carpio announced. That’s because Lacson “excluded” himself from the nomination process. Besides, Lacson has announced he is running. That makes the point of being considered by 1Sambayan moot and academic, the retired Supreme Court justice added.

It was funny reading this on the news because 1Sambayan has ceased to be relevant long ago. Carpio is trying to make 1Sambayan look as if it could still lure more politicians to join its nomination process when it has been stuck up with just two names: Robredo and Trillanes.

Apparently, presidential probables regard 1Sambayan as a sunken derelict, rusting, and its structure more like an artificial reef in the waters of Manila Bay. With Lacson announcing his candidacy, the entire playbook of 1Sambayan is ruined. It was anchored on the premise that the opposition — the term to describe any candidate that would challenge the administration — should have only one candidate. That’s to avoid slicing the pie thinner and thinner against a formidable opponent.

Lacson-Sotto tandem has pre-empted Robredo, Trillanes and company

The announcement was scheduled for August 4, or two weeks from now. But Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and his partner, Senate President Tito Sotto III, couldn’t contain their excitement and revealed two days ago that their plan to seek the two highest positions in the country is a go. That it came in the form of a text message to media organizations didn’t diminish the impact of their decision. All of a sudden, it’s all hell has broken loose among the forces seeking to defeat the Duterte administration’s candidate.

The entry of the PISOT (this is one of the ACRONYMS coined by netizens) tandem is a monkey-wrench into the playbook of 1Sambayan and Liberal Party that premised its battle on a single-candidate only to challenge the administration. This early, administration probables have posted a commanding lead: Mayor Sara Duterte has consistently led the last few surveys with 25 to 28% while former Senator Bongbong Marcos was at a tie for second place with Senator Grace Poe at 13%. Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao are also in the lead pack.

Lacson got only 4% in the latest Pulse Asia survey in a statistical tie with Vice President Leni Robredo. If both run, then they will have to fight for the bread crumbs while the administration delights in the largest slice of the pie. Hence, it is not hard to understand the call for a single candidate only for the opposition.

The obvious question that must be asked: Where is Lacson going to get the billions of pesos needed to fuel the campaign? Do they have secret backers from the business community that have assured them of the resources they will need? A presidential campaign, one that would challenge the party in power, is hard and costly. President Duterte attracted support from San Miguel’s Ramon Ang in 2016, according to the grapevine, which is why he managed to build a solid campaign organization nationwide.

Or could it be funding from abroad? At this time, with the political picture showing an almost certain victory for the administration, the usual political bets from big business are likely to go dry. The survey numbers of Lacson aren’t encouraging at all, and it is much too risky for Filipino businessmen to throw support behind him.

Right now, the only possible domestic backer would be the group of Manny Pangilinan that continues to covet the oil and gas underneath the West Philippine Sea. But 1Sambayan already holds the purse from this group. Will Lacson make an about-face and accept support from a group that includes leftists and petitioners against the Anti-Terror Law that he authored?

One thing is certain for me now: Robredo will not run. The future has turned pitch dark for her with this PISOT tandem coming into the playing arena. What about Trillanes? Well, knowing him to be a fool, he might just well run for the heck of it.