BY ROGER M. BALANZA
It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
With this line, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte gave hope to his supporters that he was not closing the door to a presidential run, a week after saying that his final decision was not to join the 2016 presidential derby.
On September 7, Duterte in a press conference in Davao City announced that he is not running for president for health reasons and opposition by his family.
Seven days later he did a somersault.
In the September 13 edition of the weekly Gikan sa Masa Para sa Masa television program on ABS/CBN, Duterte said a political analyst was right in his reading that his (Duterte’s) announcement about not running was a political strategy.
In media reports, Ramon Casiple, a well-known political analyst and Executive Director of the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform and Associate Research Director of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), said he believes that Duterte “has not totally shut his door at the presidential run despite the mayor’s categorical pronouncement.”
Casiple further said that “there is still a chance that Duterte may take a 180-degree turn from his decision especially that the election period is still a month away.”
It could be just another strategy of Duterte to keep his potential rivals guessing and thus shun criticisms and mud-slinging before the right time comes for him to announce, Casiple explained.
Duterte has emerged as a strong contender in poll surveys of the SWS and Pulse Asia, landing third behind front-runner Senator Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay.
In the ABS/CBN television program, Duterte said Casiple is right in his reading adding he is interested on how the political analyst hit the mark.
I want to find out why Casiple was able to prick my mind, said Duterte.
Lawyer Geraldine Tiu, who anchors the one-hour Sunday program, said: So, it ain’t over until it’s over, Mayor?
Duterte repeated the line, did not say yes or no, but sashayed into explaining the root of the line.
It’s American, from the line “it ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”
Casiple is not alone in speculating that Duterte is still in the running despite the announcement he is not.
Supporters of Duterte are mobilizing mass actions in a bid to make the mayor change his mind.
Duterte’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal said Duterte’s “body language seems to veer away from his words.”
In media reports, Macalintal has joined the guessing game and said the mayor’s supporters and followers may “ultimately convince him to run in time for the filing of the certificate of candidacy.”
Duterte supporters are not yet raising the white flag and are set to hold a massive rally in Manila to convince the mayor to run.
The twice-postponed “Million March: Run Duterte Run” is set on September 19.
The event at the Quirino Grand Stand at the Luneta is expected to lure more than 100,000 Duterte supporters, according to the Duterte for President Movement.
(IT AIN’T OVER UNTIL IT’S OVER, was the battle cry adopted by publicist Roger M. Balanza, Lakas ng Dabaw chief media strategist, during the second mayoral campaign of then reelectionist Mayor Rodrigo Duterte vs. Congressman Prospero Nograles in the 1992 elections. The phrase in bold letters emblazoned a wall of the “war room” of the media bureau)