POSTSCRIPT / July 18, 2021 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Kris, Sara, Bongbong in dream showdown

THE post-EDSA 1986 political showdown that I often dream of is a one-on-one electoral duel where the main antagonists are the presidential candidates representing the Marcos and the Aquino families.

We had the “snap” election of Feb.7, 1986. Victory was handed to then-President Marcos by a captive Batasan, but the dubious verdict was upended two weeks later in the streets by the People Power Revolution. Marcos fled to Hawaii and Cory Aquino took the presidency.

Since then, the political landscape has changed significantly. Now we see Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio moving to succeed her father the president. With that, I’m upgrading my dream duel to a three-cornered showdown – with Duterte thrown in.

To the new fight card, I included Kris Aquino even without her having hinted of a desire or intention to seek the presidency, the “impossible dream” of her late father Ninoy, if only to vindicate his name.

It is time, I think, for the ultimate showdown among these prominent political families – to be represented by Kris Aquino, now 50 years old, Sara Duterte, 43, and Bongbong Marcos, 63. (Above listing is in the alphabetical order of their surnames.)

The faceoff could be a side feature of the May 2022 elections – if Bongbong could be persuaded to run for president instead of vice president, and if (a big if) Kris would consider tangling at the polls with Sara and Bongbong.

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USUALLY ebullient Kris has been leading a quiet private life lately and may not be inclined to get involved in bruising politics, but we do wish to see her again on the campaign trail, this time seeking the toughest job in the land.

And from Davao City where she reigns supreme, Sara is projecting herself as presidential. Becoming the next president would enable her to cover the tracks of her controversial father and protect him from the hounds barking outside the Palace gate and in The Hague.

Bongbong is cast as vice-presidential material. Instead, he should aim to capture the presidency to be able to return the family to Malacañang during the lifetime of his 92-year-old mother Imelda and grant her a presidential pardon for her criminal conviction.

This discussion assumes that national elections will be held on May 9 next year as ordained by the Constitution, although anything can happen in the next 294 days before Election Day.

A COVID-19 crisis, for instance, could just develop and make it risky to conduct nationwide elections. President Duterte could then push aside the elections (like he did the arbitral ruling vs China) and stay in office to save the country – aside of course from saving himself.

 PDP-Laban row headed for Comelec

WHILE this dream showdown of three contending political clans rolls in our mind, a real conflict is rocking the ruling PDP-Laban party as the nation moves toward the May 2022 elections.

One faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi as the party’s vice chair convened an assembly Friday at the Clark Freeport in Pampanga to smooth out campaign plans and to press unification moves. President Duterte was reportedly set to join the body yesterday.

For allegedly acting against party interests (such as supporting the presidential bid of Sara, a non-member, Cusi and two others were expelled last week by the national executive committee led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao, national president, and Sen. Koko Pimentel, executive vice chair.

Although many participants were looking for avenues for unification, there were reportedly those for going after the leaders – Pimentel and Pacquiao – of the other faction. That may provoke an equal and opposite reaction. An ace in Cusi’s hand is President Duterte, the party’s chair.

If the squabble is not settled internally before Aug. 15, it will end up at the Commission on Elections for resolution, according to election lawyer Romy Macalintal citing a Supreme Court ruling.

August 15 is the deadline for political parties to submit to the Comelec their sworn information sheet and updated statement listing their current officers and members. The rival Cusi and Pacquiao factions are likely to file conflicting statements.

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A SIMILAR impasse arose in 2019 when the Comelec received conflicting statements and lists of authorized party signatories filed by then-party president Koko Pimentel and one Rogelio Garcia. After hearings, the Comelec recognized the Pimentel wing.

Incidentally, six of the seven Comelec members are Duterte appointees. The only Aquino appointee is Rowena Guanzon, whose term ends in February 2022. Comelec chief Sheriff Abas, appointed as a commissioner by President Noynoy Aquino, was named chair by Duterte.

As held by the Supreme Court, Macalintal said, “the Comelec has exclusive jurisdiction over the issue of leadership in a political party incidental to its power to register political parties where one party appears to be divided into wings under separate leaders.”

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque told the media Friday that Duterte recognizes that the Pimentel’s virtually own PDP-Laban, which then-mayor Rodrigo Duterte used in his successful run for president in 2016.

Roque himself had tried joining the PDP-Laban whose membership he had derided as enough to fit in a jeepney.

The original PDP (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino) was founded in 1982 by anti-Marcos elements led by opposition leader Nene Pimentel, father of Koko. By 1983, PDP had coalesced with Laban (Lakas ng Bayan), the party founded by Ninoy Aquino and Lorenzo Tañada in 1978.

Koko Pimentel had advised Cusi to form his own party instead of hijacking the PDP-Laban as the vehicle for the presidential bid of outsider Sara who already has her own party, the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (Faction for Change).

(First published in the Philippine STAR of July 18, 2021)

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