President Duterte needs to face the TRUTH about his communications team before it’s too late


This is one of those rare times that I cannot disagree with the Inquirer editor who, today, in light of the latest “approval ratings” report on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte commented on Malacanang’s response, that the “love is still there” for Duterte despite the perceived drop in public approval for his government…

Even at the height of their popularity, Presidents Corazon Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada or Benigno Aquino III — or their various spokespersons — never spoke of public love, only public opinion. To speak of love is to protest too much.

…and that there really is;

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No need to speak of love; instead, the word should be all about work: fixing the different messes the Duterte administration both inherited and created, putting an end to the deeply flawed anti-drugs policy and reforming the national police organization, resolving the crisis in Marawi and the growing threat from Islamic State-inspired extremism, getting to the bottom of the billion-peso shabu smuggling scandal at the Bureau of Customs, censuring political allies who are clearly angling for electoral or economic advantage, and so on, ad infinitum.

Who in Malcanang comes up with corny statements like “love is still there” anyway? This is the whole trouble with the Duterte administration. There is too much emotionalism that surrounds it — the whole “Papa Digong” thing, for one, has worn thin a long time ago. Anybody who has tried working for his own dad or mom would understand the complications of mixing business with family. And, not surprisingly, with a team composed of highly-emotional members comes the risk of internal strife. Indeed, thanks to a recent bulatlat by Bruce Rivera, a key insider in the Duterte administration’s inner circle of bloggers and social media “influencers”, that risk has come to the fore too. Suffice to say, the paisley rug has been pulled from under the feet of the love-in theme of the “die-hard Duterte supporter” (DDS) community Duterte’s social media mouthpieces cultivated over the last 12 months.

In the project management community, it has long been recognised that in high-risk projects, a tightly-coupled communications and change management strategy executed by competent people is important. If your change and comms people are not up to the task, if they are immature, inward-looking, self-absorbed, don’t keep their eye on the ball, and don’t keep a pulse on the broader audience (and not just their loyal choir of angels), a high risk project — such as one that seeks to upend a deeply-entrenched status quo will fail.

The drop in Duterte’s popularity rating should be a wakeup call to his administration. To keep on the ball and focus on the platform of change and reform that won him the presidency, Duterte needs to get his communications shit together. In short, some hard decisions need to be made. As the Inquirer editor quite fairly noted, Duterte had once exhibited an ability to “rebound” from a popularity drop. It can be done again — but only if the administration gets real. There are strategies that work on the campaign trail that are no longer appropriate when the need to get down to business is in order. Duterte needs to face the truth about his people and ask the right questions with regard to setting his government up for success.

12 Replies to “President Duterte needs to face the TRUTH about his communications team before it’s too late”

  1. I don’t think Duterte will do something about his mis-communications team. For two main reasons.

    First, he already admitted why they gave stupid people like Mocha Uson and some other stupid blogger who claims that he is “Thinking Pinoy” a government position – It is because they supported him all the way during elections. Of course, he cannot let go of that “utang na loob” thing.

    Second, and this is the problem of any governments in the past – The survey, and the support of their stupid social media followers. For as long as their survey ratings are high, and for as long as they feel the love on the majority of online trolls, he won’t even care about the criticisms that his mis-communications team gets. In fact, he will just feel that his mis-communications team is doing a great job. 🙂

    1. I dunno why but RJ Nieto had more dignity compared to Cocoy Dayao, which he garners more stupidity than the former.

      And also, surveys are prevalent before Duterte and that can also be said about the past administration where SWS showed results that people were satisfied about with President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino’s performance despite his government’s glaring incompetence and abuse of power. Surveys are the reason why that schmuck was elected as president and even former president Arroyo was bombarded left and right due to those surveys. Why I say this?

      The answer is simple: surveys, the majority of them, are biased. The SWS and Pulse Asia are all Yellow since they were owned by friends and relatives of BS Aquino. So yeah, these firms have their intentions to give low results in order to destabilize this government. They do that against Arroyo and they failed, they will still do that against Duterte and they will fail again.

    2. Well, if he can tolerate a Chief of Police who is routinely reduced to a blubbering baby whenever he is put through the wringer by a Senate probe, he can likely put up with a team of bumbling communications “professionals” who waste precious oxygen in Malacanang.

      Yeah, utang na loob is a bitch indeed. These intractable relationships Filipino government officials maintain through thick and thin are what ultimately sink them in the end.

      It’s always a toss up between what makes professional sense and primitive sensibilities to do with utang na loob. It’s no better than the baseless and irrational “brotherhood” that fraternities demand that their members regard one another with.

      1. I don’t know. I guess, this is an in-born trait of Filipinos. We cannot let go of people who did good to us. I’m not saying this is a bad trait as a whole. It only gets bad when that “utang na loob” affects the way we work professionally. We see that anywhere, whether in the corporate world or the government. Higher ups tend to hire incompetent, stupid people just because they are friends with them, and they have such “utang na loob” for helping them get such position. And if those people messes up, the higher ups will not do anything about it because of, yes, “utang na loob”.

        You don’t have to let go of those people who helped you get in the way. But perhaps it should not affect how you should live. We should not drenched ourselves with that “utang na loob”, because later on, we will get drowned with it, and we will no longer be unable to focus on the things that we need to do in the long run.

        Until such time that Duterte will disregard that “utang na loob” that he has toward those people, I don’t think he will do something about his (mis) communications team, regardless of their countless failures.

      2. We aren’t at the point where he can put the people most qualified and ethically moral, he needs people who are loyal to him first though, call it nepotism or cronyism if you want, but that’s the reality in Philippines politics, gotta get the loyalist first where your agenda can be pushed. But it is true, that mistake by the DND in putting the Taiwan flag for the ceremony with China, the constant screw-ups by the AFP, and the miscommunication by both President where he changes his mind and the “Official Statements”. Work on the issues first, go with love later, but never forget that the opposition of eternal protesters will profit from your genuine mistakes more.

        1. It could be because Philippine society is one where rule of law isn’t quite up to scratch yet. It’s the same reason Filipino motorists drive the way they drive — because being good and ethical gets you nowhere in a society that is barely governed consistently according to what the law prescribes.

          In short, being good simply does not pay in the Philippines.

  2. I myself, do not believe in the SWS “False Asia Survey”, that determines the popularity thru Statistics. During the Pnoy Aquino term; the country was going down and down economically. There were “Laglag Bala ” extortion scheme done by Abaya and Aquino in the international airport.

    Yet, the popularity of Pnoy Aquino was going up, up and thru the roof, done by SWS “False” Asia Survey !

    That popularity thing is a “Political Tool”, to downgrade your political opponent.

    While there are many problems to be solved in our country. Because of the neglect and incompetence of the Aquino era. The Aquinos were more interested in their heroism and sainthood. While their cahoots, were more interested in stealing the National Treasury.

    I urge Pres. Duterte, to appoint better Managers, who are competent and able to solve the country’s problems.

    The issues of Conchita Carpio Morales, and Lourdes Sereno, who are blocking the investigations of the corrupt practices of Aquino and his cahoots, must be resolve. their is no other way, than to impeach them !

    Communication has changed already. This generation relies more, on twitters, blogs and other social media tools. The Information Technology will continue to improve in the coming years !

  3. This Dueterte fellow is incompetent and incapabe of running a National Government and certainly will not do so Internationally. FLIPS have once again recruited a moron to lead them into a new beginning and are finding it out to be a continuation of the never ending hell since 1965. NICE MOVE MORONS !!!

    1. And since when did the Philippines get a “vey good” crop of candidates in all previous elections anyway? They don’t have a choice but to choose the lesser evil, the one who’s deemed the best in the lot or the one who they think will rule them all. You should know about this ever since Philippines had elections, stupid!

      Or until now you still suspend your belief that this is happening (always) in the Philippines? To adapt and update a popular saying: it takes one moron to know another moron.

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