Duterte Chronicles: To Debate or Not to Debate?

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After the slapping, fist fight and gun duel dares between Roxas and Mayor Duterte comes a new challenge, a debate between the two. As usual though, the media sensationalized it again to try and create a new propaganda against Mayor Duterte.

Let us try to address this issue in this episode. Again, let it be 1 point at a time to make it easier to understand.

1. Mayor Duterte said in one interview that he is ready to debate against all other presidential contenders to debate on national issue. The keywords here are “all presidential contenders”

2. After the interview of Mayor Duterte, reporters asked Roxas if he is willing to debate against Mayor Duterte. The question implied that it will be a one on one debate. Roxas answered that “gusto ko ngayon na, alam nyo naman si Mayor Digong, pabago-bago ng isip”

3. Mayor Duterte answered back, “Ayaw ko. Mayabang eh, Mag number two muna siya sa mga survey”.

4. The Roxas camp then fired back, “Naghahanap lang nga palusot si Mayor Duterte, takot siya makipag debate.

Now let us analyzed this situation in a strategic way to see what really happened. Mayor Duterte’s statement that he is willing to debate all contenders imply to one sanctioned debate officiated and moderated by the COMELEC. It was never meant to be a one-on-one contest. Why?

1. A debate that involves only two candidates is pointless since the people could not really tell if their ideas are better than those who did not join the debate. The “what if” will be there. (What if Miriam was there? What if BInay? What if Poe?)

2. A debate that involves all candidates on the other hand will allow a venue to hear all contenders. This gives the people the opportunity to know and compare their ideas without the “what if” situations.

3. The Roxas camp was thinking it was a direct challenge to their side. They did not even bother to verify about what Mayor Duterte’s stamen really is. Roxas was thinking he is the sole target of this challenge. Unfortunately for him, this is not the case as what was pointed out above.

Going further, when Mayor Duterte said “Ayaw ko, mayabang eh, Mag number two muna siya sa mga survey”, is actually a brilliant and strategic move. Why?

1. He was able to emphasize that Roxas is the usual candidate who is always in the back of the line. Santiago, although is constantly in 5th place can’t be considered the “last place” since she did not launch any political campaign just yet. This is in contrast to the relentless efforts of Roxas.

2. Now, in terms of strategy, a leading contender should not allow himself/herself to be dragged down by those who are far behind. This of course depends on the distance between the ratings. For example (Note that I will be using the MAGDALO survey to prevent any bias assessment and assuming it will be a one on one debate):

a. If Grace Poe wants a debate against Mayor Duterte, her 26% is actually still a substantial threat against Mayor Duterte’s 31%. Both parties then can technically benefit in a debate since whoever wins will be able to draw support from the other opposing camp.

b. Binay, wityh 23%, is definitely a threat to Grace Poe. But he cannot be that much of an opposition to Mayor Digong. Still, debating with Binay will still be beneficial since Binay draws support from Mindanao as well. If Mayor Duterte can show he has better vision for Mindanao, the Binay Mindanao votes can easily be swayed to Mayor Duterte’s favor.

c. A debate against Santiago, although she has only 4%, is still beneficial for Mayor Digong since Santiago is no doubt considered a brightest among the candidates. Standing toe to toe against her alone will prove that Duterte is on par with her intellect.

d. Debating with Roxas though will not give Mayor Duterte any benefits at all. Why?
i. The 13.5% of Roxas is his base support. His previews ratings never went way ahead or way below from this number. Therefore, these 15% are the diehard supporters of Roxas.

ii. Debating against a candidate who has only his base support is useless since even if you win the debate, the base support will most likely not change.

iii. Now, why would you want to engage in any battle (debates included) if you have nothing to gain from it? Power tripping just to show supremacy is not really a good way to fight.

3. Remember, that there are times it is better to taunt the enemy by retreating strategically. And while retreating, chip away at his morale by slightly attacking. This will make the enemy frustrated and confused. He will start to be constantly on guard concentrating all his efforts in guarding. And when he finally decides to attack will no longer have energy to do so. That is the Art of War.

Roxas though most likely wants to debate with everyone one on one. This is because strategy wise, this is the one of the few remaining options for him to raise his numbers. Since (real talk) his political strategist does not know how to sell Roxas to the voters. It is not the strategist’s fault though. Roxas is a hard sell. And his platform of “ipagpatuloy ang daang Matuwid” does not really work. A few may buy into it, but seriously, only those few are feeling the effects.

So what are your incites on this?

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