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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Communicating the Duterte legacy 

Grassroots communication works.

And to say that this has greatly contributed to why President Rodrigo Roa Duterte enjoys a high approval rating from the public is not a one-time thing, but a series of unrelenting efforts to campaign for a more aware and informed citizenry.


The Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), under the leadership of Secretary Martin Andanar, has made significant institutional reforms that brought government media to new heights.


As the lead communications arm of the government, Andanar pushed for the digitization of government media platforms, including that of its attached agencies, bringing closer to the people the messages of the President.


The Internet has made the PCOO more effective in campaigning for good governance and informing the public in the span of five years. Social media platforms offer a more dynamic way to connect with a wide range of people across the world.


For the Philippine government, this was an opportunity to reach out to more Filipinos and promote the programs that will become the legacy of “tapang at malasakit” of the Duterte administration.


The technological landscape was favorable to disseminating the efforts of the administration, shaping the awareness of the people that the government is at all-times at #WorkWorkWork, resounding much like its ambitious infrastructure program “Build, Build, Build.” This strategy of using digital platforms helped gain more support from Filipinos present online and earned the admiration of foreign allies, because information was able to reach the people in real time wherever they are in the world.


The openness of the government and its maximized presence online have made it more susceptible to scrutiny and criticisms, but it “did not succumb to the attacks, and neither did it allow criticisms, however intense, dampen its determination and initiatives.” It remained confident because the purpose was “pure, unpolluted.”


Apart from leveling with private media on the use of social media to deliver timely news, it has also encouraged public participation. Strong communication fosters trust among people, which in return inspires citizens to become involved in their communities.


With the government’s public discourse and other platforms of communication, Filipinos gain the assurance that their national government, through the leadership of President Duterte, is well-equipped to manage emergencies and other crises. This is reflected in surveys on trust and confidence expressed by the public for the President and the Cabinet. In the recent survey conducted by PUBLiCUS Asia, President Duterte had an approval rating of 58 percent and a trust rating of 55 percent. In Pulse Asia’s last survey recorded in September 2020, the President got an approval rating of 91 percent, and the poll firm said ratings of the President haven’t changed until today. Pulse Asia even cited Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte’s big lead in the latest presidential survey can be attributed to President Duterte’s popularity. In fact, analysts shared unanimously the same view that President Duterte is the most popular post-Marcos president.


Let’s also not forget that it was PCOO that initiated the landmark policy Freedom of Information (FoI), which was made effective under Executive Order 2 signed in 2016. This furthers the promotion of free access by the media and the general public to transactions, data and information under the Executive branch. It has established an agenda for good governance and transparency.


Through Radio-Television MalacaƱang, the government was able to air “live” the pronouncements of the President — his State of the Nation addresses, media interviews, meetings and other significant gatherings with local officials. These engagements are being amplified by the Philippine Information Agency’s 90-plus strong social media pages, other state-run and private media making him the “most visible and accessible” president in the country’s history.