POSTSCRIPT / November 18, 2021 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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A grand pretense: Marcos vs Duterte

THE Senate looms as the likely post-election rallying ground of the Marcos–Duterte forces campaigning under different banners to capture key government positions in the May 2022 national polls.

President Duterte could become Senate President if the alliance delivers with him a majority of the 12 Senate seats at stake. With that number, plus the residual pro-administration senators, Duterte could be next to the new vice president in the line of succession to the presidency.

The allies continue to scatter optics in the media to paint a fake picture of the parties disagreeing on many issues. There is an effort to hide the Marcos–Duterte modus vivendi so as not to provoke negative reactions from the public.

Will the Senate, with Duterte and his loyal squad in control, become the new political center of gravity? The answer depends largely on who will win the presidency:

• If Leni Robredo of the opposition wins as president, despite the whiff of fresh air, there would be a constant tension between Malacañang and a Duterte-dominated Senate. The battle of Change vs Continuity (or more of the same Duterte style of governance) will rage on.

• With Marcos as president, the collaboration will continue between the son of the late dictator exulting in his family’s recapture of the Palace and Duterte who had tried his best to improve on the original Marcos autocracy.

Some of the Duterte troops are camped under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS), a party allied with the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP–Laban), one of whose two factions is under Duterte.

These Duterte groups appear to be allies of Partido Federal Pilipino, the party being used by Bongbong Marcos as the vehicle in his drive for the presidency.

The PFP is apart from the Lakas–Catholic Muslim Democracy (Lakas-CMD) under which Davao Mayor Sara Duterte signed up as its nominee for vice president. The PFP has “endorsed” Sara as its vice presidential nominee, sealing the Marcos–Duterte partnership.

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, the Lakas–CMD president and a cousin of Marcos, has said that his party will include President Duterte in its senatorial ticket. The Marcos–Duterte love affair continues.

Among those awaiting the President in the Senate are Duterte diehards Sens. Bato dela Rosa and Bong Go, the latter now running for president under PDDS. His challenging Marcos’ presidential bid is part of the pretense of being political foes.

Dela Rosa the good soldier who earlier followed orders to run for president under the Duterte wing of PDP–Laban must have been relieved in being able to back out as the battle lines were getting clearer.

Also worth watching is Senate President Tito Sotto, a graduating senator who is running against Sara for vice president. If he loses, he won’t be able to saunter back to the “august chamber” as casually as dropping in on the set of the “Eat Bulaga” TV show of his dabarkads.

Bong Go used to be the reluctant nominee for vice president of the PDP–Laban’s Duterte wing. He dropped that tag amid the confusion in the party and the potential clash at the polls with Duterte’s own daughter Sara who had decided to be the VP candidate of Marcos.

But now Go has been assigned to run as PDDS presidential bet. When he fails in this token candidacy, he could simply go back to the Senate with his boss the President, and join in singing “Hail, hail, the gang’s all here.…” It has all been pretense.

Many others in the chamber who had been pretending to be independent (of Malacañang), may then be emboldened by the luminescent presence of their lord in their midst to openly profess their faith.

What would then happen to Sen. Dick Gordon, chair of the Blue Ribbon committee that had irritated Duterte no end with exposes of multibillion-peso deals of Palace cronies who allegedly had taken advantage of the rush procurement of equipment for fighting the pandemic?

Theoretically, we the people are supposed to set and secure the boundaries of good governance and the good conduct of government officials. Unfortunately, we have a flawed democracy and we do not seem to agree on how to fix it.

The 2022 elections are supposed to give us another chance at reforming both the system and the people managing it. Let’s see.

• US aid for Pampanga hospitals

PAMPANGA Gov. Dennis Pineda met on Monday with Consul General Elmer G. Cato in New York and the Asia-Eurasia regional director of Americares, a non-profit organization that provides medicines and medical supplies to various countries around the world.

Pineda updated Cato, who happens to be a Capampangan, on the COVID-19 situation in Pampanga and the measures the provincial government has been taking to look after the cabalens. He also discussed his initiatives in peace and order, trade and investment, education, arts and culture, and sports.

In turn, Cato briefed the governor on how the consulate has been promoting trade and investment in the Philippines, including the Clark Freeport in Pampanga and surrounding areas, as well as improving the delivery of consular services.

The governor said he was pleased to learn of the consulate’s coordination with US officials in protecting the interests of the Filipino Community in the 10 states under its jurisdiction. Recently, several Filipinos have been victims of Hate-Asian violence.

Supporting Cato’s promotion of Filipino culture in the US, Pineda gave the consulate two giant Pampanga lanterns for display at the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue in New York during the Yule season. The parol display at the Center, right in the heart of Manhattan, is expected to mesmerize the more than 200,000 pedestrians who pass by it every day.

Pineda also met with Joan Littlefield, director for Asia and Eurasia Programs of Americares, a non-profit organization based on the East Coast. The meeting, arranged by the consul-general, is expected to result in donations of medicines and medical supplies for the provincial medical center, district hospitals, and other local health units in Pampanga.

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

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