POSTSCRIPT / March 22, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Duterte to ease out Mar as 2016 LP bet?

SUBSTITUTION: With Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas’ numbers continuing to dwindle in the surveys, is Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte emerging as the Liberal Party’s “Plan B”?

The question is raised after Duterte sneaked from down South into the 2016 presidential election picture, placing third among potential aspirants in the latest Pulse Asia survey for the first quarter of 2015.

Included for the first time in a survey on potential presidential candidates, the mayor tied with former president now Manila Mayor Erap Estrada at third and fourth. Both city executives garnered 12-percent voters’ preference – behind top contender Vice President Jojo Binay (29 percent) and Sen. Grace Poe (14 percent).

Roxas, who his partymates insist to be the top LP bet for 2016, is a distant 7th place, garnering only 4 percent of voters’ preference.

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LP IN WAITING: Now that Duterte has been thrown into the mix of possible candidates in the 2016 presidential derby, people have begun to ask: Will he be the alternative bet of the ruling Liberal Party?

Unknown to many, and possibly even to some Liberal Party members, Duterte became LP chair in Davao City in 2009 after former party head Peter Laviña relinquished the post in favor of the veteran politician who has been Davao mayor for more than 20 years.

Duterte was a member of the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) but switched party in 2009 when then Sen. Noynoy Aquino ran for president in 2010 under the LP banner.

It was said that it was Duterte’s mother who convinced him to move to the LP and support Noynoy out of debt of gratitude (utang na loob) for then President Cory Aquino who appointed him as OIC mayor of Davao City in 1986. Duterte ran for Davao vice mayor in 2010 after his second three-term limit.

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MINDANAO BAILIWICK: Duterte began his “listening tour” in January after ignoring calls for him to announce presidential aspirations. But it was clear he was interested.

He is using federalism as a platform for his listening tour, saying it is the solution to the four-decade Mindanao conflict if the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law fails. The tour has taken him to Metro Manila, Baguio, and Dagupan in Luzon; Ilolio and Dumaguete in the Visayas; and practically all over Mindanao.

The Davao mayor is likely to corner the Mindanao votes should he run for president. He is known for his ability to rein in various factions of Moro rebel groups, and even the communist New People’s Army.

The March 1-7 Pulse Asia survey showed that he has overtaken Binay and Estrada as the top preferred presidential candidate among Mindanao voters. Mindanao is the second largest island in the country, and nobody from the island has made it to Malacañang.

Getting the highest support from Mindanaoans at 34 percent, Duterte bested in Mindanao the top 3 presidential aspirants. His chances will improve if the raging issues in 2016 remain to be peace and order, war and peace, and if the Bangsamoro question continues to roil the nation.

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‘FOREVERMORE’: When I posted Friday evening on Twitter “Dapat si PNoy gaya ni Xander sa Forevermore: Accept mistakes and apologize” I was surprised by the instant agreement.

To the uninitiated, Xander is the smitten Manila boy who fell in love with Agnes the Benguet girl tending to a strawberry patch in La Presa. But in an intricate web that only ABS-CBN teleserye scriptwriters can weave, the lovebirds broke off — and now Xander is wooing her back. In the delicate retrieval attempt, he and his well-meaning KKK ka-tropa committed a blunder. Hence that point about owning one’s mistake to be able to make up.

Anyway, we spotted a parallel in the predicament of President Aquino who stubbornly refuses to own his, huh, lapses in his handling of Mamasapano and other issues.

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HOLY RETREAT: Many well-meaning folk wonder why P-Noy refuses to admit his major blunders and say sorry – as one way to rekindle the romance with his followers.

If we go by the alarming surveys and the political gusts rocking Malacañang, P-Noy may have to scramble fast before the year is over.

We are one of those who say President Aquino must not precipitately resign at this point. His quitting without a well-thought-out Oplan Post-Aquino will deal the bleeding nation more harm than good.

In the spirit of Lent which is upon us, we reiterate our suggestion that the beleaguered President go on a spiritual Holy Retreat, maybe this Palm Sunday? Depending on how the introspection affects him, we suggest he extends his meditative state by going on a brief vacation.

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KRIS STYLE: Back to the reactions to my tweet suggesting P-Noy admit his mistakes and say sorry ala Xander, Leonard Mike (@MAIQUEZ68) posted: “i hope he delivers it kris’ style and not gloria’s way.”

Some P-Noy supporters do not want him to say sorry, afraid that he might fall into the same trapdoor that swallowed then President Gloria Arroyo after she said sorry during the “Hello Garci” scandal.

The reference to his kid sister Kris may be in light of her honesty and forthrightness. When Kris says it, bad or good for her, it must be true. One simply has to believe her.

Demaree JB Raval (@djraval) said: “I agree. By saying ‘sorry’ Xander will get back Agnes. P-Noy’s ratings will rebound once he apologizes to the nation.”

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 22, 2015)

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