COMMENT: You can’t mess up if you don’t show up

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Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, former senator and son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, gestures during a press conference in Manila on October 5, 2017. (Photo: NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)

It comes to no surprise that Bongbong Marcos would not show up in critical interviews. It is simply not in his interest to do so.

First, Jessica Soho, then dzBB, and now, an interview with the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP/Association of Broadcasters of the Philippines).

By declining a chance for him to be asked the “tough” questions, he employs a filter used by powerful institutions to repress the media – a concept that philosopher Noam Chomsky would refer to as “flak.” Flak is what the media gets when they start reporting on things that go against the powerful. It is a weapon meant to incapacitate journalists to hold truth to power.

We see this flak often in the comment sections of political articles, but its effect can go beyond social media. You might have heard of the phrase “A-bias-CBN” as early as 2016, a play on words meant to mock ABS-CBN of which Duterte has accused of bias. Now, we witness this filter in action as the dictator’s son fails to attend the interview. It is in the nature of the rich and powerful to discredit everything that would threaten their influence on society.

If I were him, I’d avoid the interview too. The Alamano incident aside (you should check it out for a good laugh), GMA Network said it themselves: the questions are tough because the job of the presidency is tough. An on-the-spot debate would expose his weaknesses – and may even cost him the presidency.

Among all the candidates, BBM is the most controversial one. There’s just too much dirt in the Marcos name. He has to address human rights violations that happened under his father’s regime, possible ties with troll networks, ill-gotten wealth that he could be benefiting from, his tax evasion case, the number of petitions filed in the COMELEC against him, and so on, and so on, and so on.

He would end up in an “emperor with no clothes” situation. Marcos Jr. can't risk losing the illusion of political confidence his campaign team worked so hard on, and so he must decline. This move takes advantage of ambiguity on his political stances and the public’s benefit of the doubt on his candidacy.

If he’s as tough as he seems, then he should appear in any platform of scrutiny, whether or not his team perceives the media network to be against him… or will he have his spokesperson argue on his behalf too?

(First paragraph updated and second paragraph added with more information)

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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