United Nationalist Alliance senatorial candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri has accused the Liberal Party of spreading malicious text messages about him and other UNA candidates.
In a press statement, Zubiri said UNA has “been warned early this week by our friends in the administration camp that a demolition job will be initiated by the spin doctors in the admin camp against me, Senator (Gregorio) Honasan, (San Juan Rep.) JV Estrada and (Cagayan Rep.) Jack Enrile.”
Zubiri said the party’s source told them “the LP has budgeted several millions to do this demolition job against us.”
Insiders–that is, people who have mobile phones–have indeed been receiving text messages in recent weeks alleging corruption by Honasan, Enrile’s alleged involvement in Martial Law-era murders, and Zubiri’s alleged ties to the Ampatuans, who supposedly helped him cheat in the 2007 elections, and to Ladlad party-list (which would not be a bad thing at all). Not much has been said against Estrada. Maybe the text blast bureau is still working on that.
“We’ve read and heard an uptick in deceptive and intimidating tactics designed to divert the attentions of the voters away from the issues that matter in this campaign such as the program of government and accomplishments of the senatorial candidates,” Zubiri said.
Earlier in the campaign, Zubiri accused rival Senator Aquilino Pimentel III of being a wife beater, so it’s tempting to say turnabout is fair play (,bitch). But it isn’t, really. Not when we’re talking about one of the few democratic exercises that still, at least on the surface, means something. If the administration is resorting to this kind of dirty tactics, then it’s an insult not just to the intelligence of voters, but also to the supposed principles the Liberal Party adheres to.
It doesn’t help that it isn’t difficult to believe that the administration–or, possibly, a faction within the administration–is behind the negative text campaign. They have the most to gain from the personal attacks on strong UNA candidates. Plus, they, or people on their side, have a history of using text messages and social media to condition people’s minds.
There were, for example, enough text messages and tweets against impeached chief justice Renato Corona during his impeachment trial in 2012 to fill a large and rather redundant book. Recall, too, the 2010 presidential election campaign, when we were swamped with text messages disparaging Senator Loren Legarda and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay who was then running for vice president.
Senator Manuel Villar Jr., failed presidential candidate, deserves a special mention for the coordinated SMS and social media attacks on him.
It isn’t difficult to believe that either Malacañang or the Liberal Party has a dirty tricks department. This website has been told as much in both knowing winks and off the record conversations.
The administration coalition can, of course, point to SMS and social media attacks against their own candidates. Notice, though, that these attacks are usually against Senators Legarda and Francis Escudero, who are not members of LP.
Escudero, a favorite target of text blasts, is also considered one of the possible contenders for the vice presidency in 2016. He also campaigned for an Aquino-Binay tandem in 2010, dropping then LP president Senator Manuel Roxas II.
Escudero may be friendly with Malacañang, but that does not necessarily mean the Liberals have much of a reason to love him.
Let’s be clear: This website bears no love for Zubiri and Estrada or any of the candidates of UNA (save, as a possible exception, Honasan). Their lineup smacks of old politics and their spokesman looks like a hedgehog making love to a muskrat. Despite that, they deserve better than to be targeted by negative campaigns that are about as legitimate as the “Eto ang roaming number ko” text scams.
If the administration coalition truly stands for new and principled politics, they shouldn’t be getting their hands dirty with these annoying, dishonorable, and ultimately ineffective text blasts. If the LP has really been resorting to this kind of shit, then they are trading away whatever is left of their rapidly diminishing legitimacy.