Catch-22

By CHITO A. FUENTES

“One look is worth a thousand words,” wrote Frederick R. Barnard in Printer’s Ink, in 1921. Barnard, however, was careful enough not to claim originality, noting that the phrase may have been of oriental origin.

Most baby boomers probably have not heard of Barnard, but many are familiar with a song David Gates wrote in 1971, “If”, when he was still part of the popular 70s soft rock band Bread.

Whatever, these words came to mind when several pictures were posted recently on Facebook that generated mostly positive reactions from politically active Boholanos. The pictures featured no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, the undisputed contemporary political rock star, with prominent political figures.

With President Duterte, in various frames, were political son Paulo Duterte, former Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go and former Cabinet Secretary LeoncioEvasco.

By this time, most political watchers are already aware that the three men are vying for different political positions in different levels in next year’s mid-term elections. Go is aiming for one of the 12 seats up for grabs, the younger Duterte is running for congressman in the first district of Davao City while Evasco is setting his sights on the governorship of Bohol.

Among those posted online were two kinds of photos featuring Duterte and Evasco. The first had the President raising Evasco’s hands, along with those of Go and Paulo Duterte. This picture leaves little to the imagination.

It is the typical proclamation photo showing the endorser and the one being endorsed. No one will doubt the President’s endorsement of Go and, most of all, his own son. The one for Evasco, however, is not automatic, at least as Evasco’s critics and opponents would like to believe.

In recent weeks, if not months, supporters of Deputy Speaker Arthur Yap make it appear that Evasco is not alone in enjoying the President’s blessing.

Talks have circulated that Bohol will be declared a free zone – meaning President Duterte either will endorse both Evasco and Yap, or he will not endorse both of them. The contention is not entirely without basis considering that Yap, who campaigned hard against the then Davao mayor in 2016, has been resurrected politically by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who promoted him Deputy Speaker.

Yap, who is facing a slew of corruption cases, heads the formidable trio composed outgoing Gov. Edgar Chatto and graduating Rep. Rene Relampagos.

By next year, the trio boasts of a combined 27 years as congressman and 15 years as governor. All three would have served three terms each as congressman, three terms as governor for Chatto and two for Relampagos.

Before I forget, the second photo had Duterte pointing his left hand, the index finger locked in on a beaming Evasco. This is not exactly the first time Duterte did it. If there is any message anybody can get, it is a Duterte endorsement - a different if not special one.

Does this picture paint a thousand words? It depends on who’s looking.