POSTSCRIPT / November 11, 2021 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Que sera, Sara… What will be will be

THE withdrawal by Davao Mayor Sara Duterte of her reelection bid to aim higher was widely expected, but when she announced it Tuesday on social media it still sent viral waves stirring up the political pandemia afflicting the country.

Que sera, Sara? Is her withdrawal before the Nov. 15 deadline for party substitutions the signal for the launching soon of a Duterte-Marcos (or a Marcos-Duterte) tandem vying for the two top positions in the 2022 national elections?

Sara, 43, confirmed that her younger brother Baste, who was seeking reelection as Davao vice mayor, would now run for mayor in her stead, and councilor Melchor Quitain would replace Baste as vice mayoral bet, all of them under the Hugpong ng Pagbabago party.

The next scenario in the unfolding sarsuela could show Sara aiming for the presidency, or the vice presidency, in tandem with Ferdinand Marcos Jr., 64, the standard-bearer of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas who is on a campaign to recapture the Palace lost by their family in 1986.

Whether the final configuration would be a Marcos-Duterte or a Duterte-Marcos tandem, it would be a formidable force propelled by Duterte’s command votes and Marcos’ bulging war chest.

In Antipolo on the same day, Sen. Bong Go, vice presidential nominee of the Duterte wing of the PDP-Laban Party, told a crowd to expect a shuffling of candidates including himself, hinting of instructions of “our beloved President”.

Duterte himself was saying in July and August that he would run for vice president to continue enjoying immunity from lawsuits. Last month, however, he brought in Go to replace him for VP and announced he was retiring from active politics.

Last-minute substitutions, a hallmark of Duterte election tactics, could involve Marcos, who is still looking for a VP partner and a senatorial ticket.

But tricky legal details could ruin the best of plans. For one, Marcos’ certificate of candidacy is being questioned before the Commission on Elections on the ground that he lied in his CoC sworn declaration that he has no criminal convictions. https://tinyurl.com/u8fmbjn3

In 1995, Marcos was convicted on four counts of violating the Tax Code which carried among the penalties perpetual disqualification from holding public office. He appealed his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court, which only affirmed the guilty verdict with finality.

If Marcos’ CoC is canceled, the net effect is as if there was no CoC to begin with. This will preclude any substitution, which can be allowed only if based on a valid CoC on file.

As for Sara, if she runs under PDP-Laban and replaces either Go for vice president or Sen. Bato dela Rosa for president, and Comelec approves the substitution, that would in effect recognize the Duterte wing of PDP-Laban over the original wing led by Sen. Koko Pimentel.

Maybe Pimentel should file an urgent motion for Comelec to hold in abeyance any substitution of party nominees because that would prejudge the PDP-Laban wrangling in favor of the Duterte faction.

With six of the seven Comelec members being Duterte appointees, a decision favoring the Duterte camp may not look good for the poll body overseeing elections where the President’s daughter and the son of the late dictator Marcos could be running in tandem.

On the other hand, if Comelec recognizes the Pimentel wing, Sara cannot replace Go or Bato as they would then be considered independent candidates who cannot be substituted – unless Pimentel abandons Sen. Manny Pacquiao, their party’s presidential nominee.

We have just four days before the Monday deadline for substituting candidates. Whoever loses in the petition for the Comelec to deny or cancel Marcos’ CoC is expected to go to the Supreme Court.

Further delay in resolving the status of Marcos’ CoC would make smaller the space-time framework within which Duterte and Marcos partisans are operating. One way out of the box is for Duterte’s friends in the Comelec to come to his aid. Will they, with everybody watching?

 Clark may go waterless unless…

WHILE we’re engrossed in the political teleserye playing in the media, more than 1,100 locators who keep the Clark Freeport in Pampanga productive face the prospect of their water supply cut off by the government agency monitoring their water consumption and disposal.

Locators use 35,000-plus cubic meters per day drawn by the concessionaire Clark Water Corp. from underground and processed before distribution, with the wastewater treated by CWC before its release into a nearby river.

The problem arose when the Environment Management Board for Region-3 reportedly told CWC its wastewater treatment was inadequate and should be replaced, suggesting a Modified Sequencing Batch Reactor (MSBR) – with a P880-million tag although it isn’t gold-plated!

If it does not install that type, CWC’s license could be withdrawn daw – leaving Clark waterless. The threat was almost garbled by ugly static that a group from down South (your guess as to who they are is as good as mine) was reportedly pushing for the new equipment.

The water concessionaire insists it has improved its wastewater treatment and asked for more time to do more, but improvements it made were apparently found unsatisfactory.

So CWC was given 15 more days from its receipt on Nov. 10 of a deadline extension to upgrade its wastewater treatment to satisfactory levels or its license would be withdrawn.

Our guess is that CWC’s wastewater treatment will remain “unsatisfactory” until it buys – without public bidding – the sparkling new equipment as suggested.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of November 11, 2021)

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