POSTSCRIPT / October 26, 2021 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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The buzz continues on BBM-Sara deal

LIKE stars straying from their ordained niches in the heavens, Sara Duterte and Bongbong Marcos appeared Friday for a meeting in Cebu City, and political observers stopped breathing momentarily to hear more clearly what the duo were saying.

Speculation has built up that the daughter of President Duterte and the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos were ironing out a deal casting Marcos as the presidential bet in tandem with Sara or whoever the Davao group would nominate as vice president.

If they could be locked into a tandem before the Nov. 15 deadline for substitution of candidates, their partnership would be formidable as it combines Duterte’s command votes and Marcos’ bulging war chest.

So what did they say after their summit in Cebu, the middle ground in the Central Visayas between the so-called Solid North and the Solidifying South?

Mayor Sara bared the basis of her present position by reiterating her decision to not run for president in 2022. But, take note, she also expressed an openness to support the presidential bid of Marcos.

Wala pay isturya mahitungod niana (Bongbong–Sara tandem),” she told the media in a country club in Liloan, a first class town some 20 kilometers north of Cebu City whose mayor, Christina G. Frasco, is the daughter of Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia.

Ang among lang gistorya sa pagkakarun (is) how HNP in Davao region can help his bid for the presidency,” she added. (HNP stands for Hugpong ng Pagbabago, the name of the regional political party that she heads. We hope readers can sense what she was saying in Cebuano.)

The Davao mayor was in Cebu for three days to attend official events in Liloan, where a new port was inaugurated Sunday, and to touch base (Run, Sara, Run!) with the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines – Cebu Chapter.

Mayor Frasco is also a spokesman of Mayor Sara in Davao, which is some 16 hours away by land and more than an hour if one motors from Liloan to Cebu City, on to Mactan, then flies to Davao. No need to travel – time and distance shrink with the use of modern communication technology.

As for Marcos, the official reason for his being in Cebu was the opening of his campaign headquarters in the city. Sara confirmed that she met with him but declined to be his spokesman.

“I cannot comment on that but you can ask him since he is the one who is a candidate for a national position,” she said.

My speculations on how Marcos and Duterte could advance their common interests proceed from these hard assumptions: (1) Marcos has to run and win as president in 2022, and (2) President Duterte needs protection from lawsuits after he leaves the presidency.

With Marcos bent on being the president, the Dutertes are left only with the vice presidency option. Either President Duterte himself, or his daughter Sara, or a loyal aide like Sen. Bong Go runs for VP while holding an iron-clad Marcos promise to protect the older Duterte.

Considering her high survey ratings, however, Sara might just insist on running for president instead of VP. This could be the deal breaker. With Marcos’ having sunk billions in this do-or-die drive to recapture Malacañang, we cannot imagine him sliding down to VP – unless he gets from Duterte a very firm commitment to yield to him the presidency at some early point during the six-year term.

That is, if both Duterte and Marcos win in 2022 – which is a big IF that seems to grow bigger by the day.

 What to look for in a president

MANY acquaintances, meanwhile, tell me they have stopped listening to President Duterte’s TV report Monday (or is it Tuesday?) nights on what he is doing about COVID-19 and the runaway corruption, aside from threatening his critics in the Senate and elsewhere.

We don’t really miss anything since most of what Duterte says come out in media days later. If one has time in between watching local or Korean teleseryes, he can go to the RTVM/PCOO site on You Tube and savor Duterte’s monologues, Sal Panelo’s lawyerly commentaries, or the tiresome Hariroke press briefings.

Malacañang does not put the dates on the videos – probably on the theory (or a joke) that the President’s speeches are timeless. A viewer could be lulled into thinking what he is watching is the latest peroration of the President.

But sometimes more critical viewers notice the slower pacing, the too frequent ellipses, cursing or going around in circles that some amateur psychologists see as tell-tale signs that somebody’s cognitive functions have started to deteriorate.

Since hardly any outsider sees Duterte, he could be thought to be up and about busy running the bureaucracy when in fact he is asleep under his kulambo made famous by his photo bomber before he was sent to the Senate.

Last week, I asked on email a media colleague if he has made up his mind about his choice for president in the May 2022 elections and he said yes. I didn’t want to sound pakialamero so I didn’t ask who his choice was.

Instead, I asked what he looked for in his choice for president. He replied in 10 minutes:

“I want a President to be somebody I can proudly present to the world as ‘My President’. I cannot do or say that of Marcos, Domagoso, Bato, Sara, Ping… At least si Leni malinis, matalino at matulungin. At maganda pa!

“Just listen to the presidential aspirants talk, discuss essential topics, explain plans… Kahit si Duterte mismo di makabuo ng complete sentence… Then examine their moral character, an element that is crucial at this point since we’re looking for someone to lift us….”

We hear similar discerning comments on social media and from a growing number of professional and people’s organizations, as well as in random discussions on the need for change in 2022.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 26, 2021)

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