OFFLINE: Junior’s smoke and mirrors show

Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s candidacy is being exposed for what it truly is – all smoke and mirrors with no substance or foundation to stand on.

From the start, he has been harping a message of “unity,” to the point of calling his running mate and their chop suey senate line up as the Uniteam.

When asked how he will handle the very serious problems the Philippines will be facing in the next few years, the son and namesake of the late dictator always answers “unity.”

He seems to believe that mouthing a generic, motherhood statement is more than enough to propel him to the presidency.

Never mind that he has been hemming and hawing where his stand on important issues are concerned.

Consider that he initially said that the Philippines should maintain a neutral stance where the Russian invasion of Ukraine is concerned. After it became clear that Filipinos were leaning heavily towards Ukraine, he suddenly said that Russia should respect its neighbor’s independence, or words to that effect.

Now with gasoline prices skyrocketing, Junior proved what a wishy washy candidate he is by taking opposing stands on the suspension fuel excise tax. First he favored it, then he was against it. Someone must have whispered in his ear that he was on the wrong side of the economic realities.

And so it goes.

That he knows little of how poor Filipinos live showed when he said that galunggong should be raised in fish pens so the poor could feed themselves.

He didn’t know that the fish known as scad or blue mackerel cannot be raised in pens, and is no longer a poor man’s dish. Only the rich and the middle class can afford this fish nowadays.

Out of touch much, Junior? Just like your son who had no clue on what domestic helpers are and what they do for the economy, but at a huge social cost.

Junior has avoided attending debates because he and his handlers know that he will probably embarrass himself with his lack of knowledge on the key issues of the day.

But this has boomeranged on him, as his fading popularity can attest. Late last week, his own sister, Senator Imee Marcos, advised Junior to attend the debates because his non-appearance has been used by his opponents to prove that he is a coward.

Still, he refused to join the coming debates sponsored by the Commission on Elections, offering not even the lamest of excuses for refusing to engage his opponents in any kind of verbal exchange, friendly or otherwise.

Perhaps his biggest worry is the massive crowds that have been attending the rallies of Vice President Leni Robredo. Everywhere she goes, tens of thousands of adoring fans and followers show up.

Meanwhile, Junior can only bring in paid crowds to his rallies, and only a few thousands show up at best.

His poorly attended rallies hit a new low recently when attendees complained of cell phones and wallets being stolen. The victims then went on stage, sometimes begging the pickpockets to return the lost items and keep the money.

The solution of Junior’s handlers was to ban all appeals to return stolen items in future rallies.

In contrast, when attendees invariably lose their cell phones or wallets during Robredo rallies, they are always returned intact.

The huge Robredo rallies have caused such consternation in Junior’s camp that they have asked the Comelec to limit the number of attendees to 3,000, which is about the usual number who show up in Junior’s events.

Typical Robredo rallies have been in the tens of thousands attending and her crowds continue to swell.

It should be noted that the typical Junior crowds appear listless and unexcited, with some even leaving even before the presidential wannabe does his unity spiel. By comparison, the Leni events are always happy ones, with big name performers showing up for free.

Case in point is songbird Kuh Ledesma, who admitted that she was offered a huge sum to perform at Junior’s event in the Bacolod area. She said no, but agreed to sing for the Leni followers gratis.

Multiply this by the dozens upon dozens of artists who show up to express their solidarity with Robredo, and you will see that there is reason for Junior to be worried.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Robredo’s running mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan is married to the one and only Sharon Cuneta, aka the Megastar. Her presence in the rallies is icing on the cake.

The latest Facebook and Google reports say that Robredo is on her way to victory in two months’ time, and this has made Junior’s camp even more desperate. Since they could never question Robredo’s impressive credentials, their attacks have always been on a personal basis.

Robredo herself has stated that the attacks have turned extremely vicious of late, and will worsen in the weeks to come.

The vice president has never had to resort to cheap gimmicks and tactics to push her candidacy.

It is Leni Robredo who can and will unite the people after she is elected.

Since he is now aware that his “popularity” at the start of the campaign had no ground to stand on, Junior has allowed his wife and children to appear before the media in hopes that they can bring in the women and the youth vote.

No dice. His wife, a member of the Araneta clan, may come across as being nice enough, but their adult kids are just as empty headed as the father.

In contrast, Robredo’s three adult daughters are all overachievers who will almost certainly go far in life. One is already a practicing physician who was at the frontlines in the battle against the pandemic.

It seems pretty clear that Junior’s manufactured popularity peaked too early. His smoke and mirrors show could not be sustained.

The craziest claim came this week from Junior’s running mate Sara Duterte, who said that the opposition – meaning Leni and company – was preparing to cheat in the coming elections.

She is saying what she and Junior are themselves prepared to do. For the duo and their awful senate candidates, cheating is the only way they can hope to win.

If they do, Junior and Sara will find out that the spirit of People Power remains very much alive and well. Cheat and there will be hell to pay for the senseless Uniteam.

The Marcos family may as well pack their bags and get ready to be kicked out of the country by a united people for the second time.