2022 PH Elections - Voices

[Newspoint] Crazed and desperate

Vergel O. Santos
[Newspoint] Crazed and desperate

Alejandro Edoria

Indeed, the times are desperate for both Duterte and the nation in that Duterte’s defeat is the nation’s redemption. It’s EDSA all over again, and the same question hangs: How much does the nation really care?

President Duterte and his camp were portrayed as delaying, as a matter of strategy, naming who to field and for what positions in the 2022 election. Their choices now revealed perforce, it’s more like they were at a loss and only trying to put up a brave face. 

Scrambling to meet the 5 pm deadline on November 15, they came up with a lineup so pathetic it brought Bong Go to tears. Of course, he will never admit that; he will always blame some incidental smoke getting in his eyes. But those would seem more tears of fear than tears for drama. 

Promoted by Duterte from majordomo to senator and now to presidential heir, Go, despite his thickness and notwithstanding his lapdog fealty to his patron, could only have realized he had been dunked out of his depth. 

For a while her father’s official muse and groomed to succeed him, Sara Duterte, on her part, is now content to run for vice president. And her father, for some time eyeing that position himself, is settling for a mere seat in the Senate

Whether it’s for show or for real, an open row is playing out within the Duterte dynasty. Supposedly, legitimate daughter Sara resents her father, not to mention his common-law family, and Go, the favorite son not of his own blood, and is reluctant to involve herself in his politics. Indeed, at one point, she said she was not running for any national position and preferred to seek reelection as mayor of her native Davao City. 

Being a dynastic heiress, she is at pains to prove she is her own person. But she endeavors to play the part. She picks a different party from that of her father and declares herself in tandem not with Go but with Ferdinand Marcos Jr., himself of a different party but without a running mate. 

In any case, dynastic interests have carried the day. For any hope of easy time, if not outright avoidance of culpability, once prosecuted for various wrongdoing (murder, corruption, national betrayal), Duterte must be able to keep enough of the power and influence that allowed him to rule pretty much as he pleased. But even a co-opted Supreme Court and Congress won’t be any help in the case brought against him in the International Criminal Court, for thousands of deaths in his war on drugs.

Evidently, the Dutertes tried to strike a deal with Marcos. After all, he was a Duterte ally and his late father, the dictator, a Duterte idol. In fact, Marcos was Duterte’s openly preferred choice for vice president, over his own running mate in the 2016 election, Alan Peter Cayetano. Apart yet from all that, Marcos had good poll numbers. 

Since Duterte can ill afford taking a chance on a surrogate president who is not family, his deal presumably was for Marcos to run for vice president, running mate to Sara. Marcos may also have been reminded that his candidacy needed yet to be approved by the Commission on Elections, which happens to be packed with Duterte appointees and now looking into his previous conviction for tax evasion, normally a cause for automatic disqualification from holding public office. 

Obviously, Marcos would not be persuaded, or allow himself to be even vaguely threatened. Just as obviously, the spurned Duterte has been propelled to a new level of crazy: he now calls Ferdinand Jr., credibly, a liar and a thief but also, laughably, a communist. A Duterte left fuming as Marcos runs away in tandem with Sara should make for interesting theater. But in the matter of votes gained and lost in the realignment, who knows?

Actually, if you want serious theater, it’s Duterte that bears watching. Already crazed and desperate, he is yet bound to go into a panic. His political stock is falling. The pandemic has revealed him further for his ineptitude and cronyism. Scandalous sweetheart contracts for health supplies have so weakened the official response to the emergency that the Philippines is ranked consistently among the poorest performers. The result is joblessness, hunger, and death such as the nation has never seen.    

Duterte should be watched in relation to Leni Robredo, whose own numbers are rising, thanks, in a way, to him. He sidelined her, being from a rival party, as his vice president and starved her of budget to make her seem useless and deprive her of a public profile. But that only drew out her leadership qualities – resourcefulness for one – and consequently allowed her to build for herself a wide constituency of admirers among aid donors and beneficiaries. 

Moreover, it’s been well proven that she can inspire a bandwagon. Starting with an awareness rating of less than 1%, she defeated Ferdinand Jr. for vice president in the 2016 elections.

If anyone makes Duterte crazier than he is clinically – as a case of antisocial narcissistic personality disorder – it is Robredo. Without intending it, she could very well force him to take desperate measures. And, with Gloria Arroyo very much in with him, as electoral orchestrator, it is even said, the worst of such measures cannot be discounted. 

Arroyo had rigged the vote in her own presidential run and got away with it, with help from discriminatory elites, who, preferring the cheat to the actor Fernando Poe Jr. – a first-timer in electoral politics – used their influence to suppress righteous protests and from voters whose interest in the vote ended once it was cast.

Indeed, the times are desperate for both Duterte and the nation in that Duterte’s defeat is the nation’s redemption. It’s EDSA all over again, and the same question hangs: How much does the nation really care? How much does it care about itself and its descendants being redeemed? – Rappler.com