Choice of print, Bulletin
HARD COPY AS EVIDENCE. A copy of the day's newspaper is still the favorite proof of life.
When Bong Go, President Rodrigo Duterte's unofficial chief of staff who moonlights as senator of the land, reportedly released a photo of the President with his partner seated at the dining table, a copy of "Manila Bulletin" is part of the image, with the front page in display.
Proof of life -- aimed to refute the rumor that he had left for Singapore or was ill -- was a newspaper. Not a smart phone or a TV set but the good old print hard copy.
Did the choice of "Bulletin" tell the public anything? Critics expected another paper but definitely not the paper that ranks with Rappler in the Palace communicators' hit list.
Not the proof of life critics want, namely, a doctor's health certificate, but the newspaper as evidence, despite possibility of photo tampering, still works.
Governor's home accident
GWEN'S HIP FRACTURE. It took some time for Malacañang to quell the rumor about the President's health.
In contrast, Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia, through Capitol's Sugbo News, promptly ran Monday, August 17, a news story reporting that she fractured her left hip when she slipped in her home in Cebu City. Sugbo News, sounding professional, even included the governor's age, which I, by sheer habit, withhold.
Rory Jon Sepulveda, Capitol legal consultant, is the news source but tucked with his name in the news is the name of a doctor, provincial health officer Dr. Christina Gianggo.
Guv Gwen will be using a walker for six weeks, the Sugbo News report says, with the promise of an update on the state of the healing of her injury, signed by another doctor, Jose Antonio San Juan of Cebu Orthopaedic Institute.
With a lawyer and two doctors confirming Gwen's injury, the Capitol report beats hands down Malacañang's report about Duterte's health.
A "caveat" to local critics: better not allude to a "limping" governance at the Capitol. Unlike the President, Guv Gwen has not isolated herself: she is not "incommunicado" or cut off from communication. She has perpetual access to a mic and a live-streaming video cam. And by now, she has perfected the art of calling out anyone who has stuck a foot in his mouth.
UNFORTUNATE USE OF TERM. Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque apparently used an inapt phrase or term when he said President Duterte was in "perpetual isolation" in explaining his boss having gone away from public view, an occasional occurrence during his term.
Many people read only the headline or a paragraph or two of the news story. The Inquirer.net headline, as did the heads of other news sites, used "perpetual isolation."
Which, taken with the earlier rumor about Duterte having gone to Singapore and linked with recurring doubts about his health, was more interesting and intriguing. "Why the perpetual isolation, is he virus-infected?" Or so ran the immediate reaction of idle watchers of Malacañang.
"Perpetual" carries the sense of "indefinitely, for a long time," even forever. Primary meaning refers to the time frame, not to nature of the isolation. Using it figuratively was unwise. Many people don't bother to go beyond the basic meaning; for that, they've to read more to get "context."
Roque had to explain later that he was speaking figuratively, an indication he goofed. By the nature of the President's position, Harry said, few people can come close to the President. The public knows that already. Bringing that up, given the swirling rumor of his alleged disappearance, was inappropriate and, for the Palace communicators, unfortunate.