POSTSCRIPT / September 12, 2021 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Substitution: The name of the game

AFTER a high-visibility drive and her topping a survey of potential candidates for president, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio circled back Thursday and announced she was not running for president or any national office.

What happened? Inday Sara pointed to an agreement she said she had with her father the President that only one of them will run for a national position in 2022.

Without saying that she was gunning for the presidency, Sara had gone around making her presidential presence felt with the aid of such campaign materials as giant tarpaulins, appearances in mass events, and deploying big buses emblazoned with her face and name.

In a media interview, she explained that with her father’s accepting his nomination for vice president by one faction of the PDP-Laban party she was no longer running for a national position, presumably even for vice president or senator.

Stopping her campaign may look like the closing episode in her “Run, Sara, Run” series. But she could still resume the game by creating a “public clamor” for her to run for president or vice president – depending on how the winds blow in the next month or so.

Sara can still change her mind before the Oct. 8 deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy – and even take her time deciding until the last minute of Nov. 15 when the substitution of a nominee of a political party who withdraws, dies or is disqualified by final judgment is still allowed.

That was the same substitution route taken in 2016 by her father, then Davao mayor, when he took the slot reserved for him by Martin Dino who had filed to run for mayor of Pasay then gave his space to Duterte to be able to sneak in before the door closed.

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AS we are neither lawyer nor politician, we cannot understand why the Commission on Elections accepted or allowed that substitution when Dino’s candidacy was for mayor of Pasay City.

That is now water under the bridge, but when Duterte was allowed to replace Dino it should have been as a candidate running for Pasay mayor, not for president of the Philippines, as expressed in the CoC that was used.

The substitution was approved by the Comelec en banc on Dec. 17, 2015, by a 6-1 vote, citing Section 12 of RA 8436 (the law adopting the automated election system) and the poll body’s rules and regulations.

For reference, Section 12 provides: “In case of valid substitutions after the official ballots have been printed, the votes cast for the substituted candidates shall be considered votes for the substitutes.”

The lone dissenter was Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, the only one among the seven commissioners who was appointed by then-President Noynoy Aquino. Her seven-year term ends in February next year on the home stretch of the election season.

The Comelec had shown how creative it could be in its Resolution No. 10695, issued Feb. 10, 2021, which allows late substitution even from Nov. 16, 2021, until noon of Election Day itself, provided the substitute and the one he is replacing have the same surname.

We’re bringing up these details because with at least two Dutertes out there playing, everybody has to keep their eyes on the “substitution” ball as candidates may slip in or out without alerting their adversaries in fairness.

 BBM-Sara best tandem for Duterte

IN A survey in June, Sara Duterte topped the list of possible presidential bets with 28 percent, trailed by Isko Moreno (14%), Bongbong Marcos (13%), Grace Poe (10%), Manny Pacquiao (8%), Leni Robredo (6%), Ping Lacson (4%), Bong Go (3%), Jojo Binay (2%) and Alan Peter Cayetano (2%).

In the same survey where 2,400 adults nationwide were asked about their choices for vice president, President Duterte was chosen by most, 18 percent, of the respondents, giving us an idea of the relative standing of the father and his daughter.

The figures come from a survey firm that is not exactly famous for the reliability of its reports. We’re using its data only as rough guides for making generalized conclusions. We assume that the aspirants themselves have their own surveys.

Everything considered, we start from our arbitrary assumptions as we try to divine how the ball would bounce all the way to May 9:

1. Rodrigo Duterte accepts that he is barred from running for reelection. But any alliance will have to guarantee his protection from local and foreign prosecutors after his term ends on June 30, 2022.

2. Sara Duterte seems to have started to believe she has a good chance of winning a presidential run. With at least 28 percent of the votes in a field of 10, she looks like she is the candidate to beat. The numbers suggest opportunities too valuable to ignore.

3. Bongbong Marcos must run in 2022 or never. The train leaving for Malacañang in 2022 may be the last for the family dreaming of returning to the Palace. They are ready to buy the ticket whatever the cost.

4. The survey numbers are not exciting enough for Isko Moreno and Manny Pacquiao who believe in their mass appeal. They must strive to move closer to the target to improve their hitting scores.

5. Leni Robredo lags in the survey, but her staff says she has her own survey to help her plan and decide. They add that her numbers have been firming up as Duterte’s hold on his followers loosens.

Based on these assumptions, we dare say that:

Sara and Bongbong both want to lead the takeover of the Palace. Sara has the warm bodies needed while Bongbong holds the war chest. As the deadline nears for filing CoCs, each will press the other to agree to be his/her VP.

Rodrigo Duterte will reap more benefits from a Bongbong-Sara winning tandem in terms of protection after his term. If Sara refuses to be BBM’s VP, RRD himself may consider running for VP with Marcos. A Marcos-Duterte (RRD) pair will be formidable.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 12, 2021)

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