Strange things are happening in the Philippine political scene these days as lameduck President Rodrigo Duterte’s minions strive to keep their lord and master relevant.
Because his daughter Sara is said to be serious in running for president next year, daddy Digong has no choice but to stand by her wishes.
There is even talk of getting the president to run for vice president, which would be a variation of the Gloria Arroyo playbook. You know. Keep some form of power in the moronic belief that one is indispensable to the Filipino people.
Super alalay Bong Go also wants to run for president, according to the sleepy president, but he may have to take a backseat to Sara and run for vice president instead. If she will have him, that is.
Sara’s presidential run was confirmed by a once respectable congressman who has earned a reputation for being a political butterfly, but who is still capable of issuing sensible statements every so often, especially when it comes to economic matters.
Rep. Joey Salceda said last week that he was “100 percent sure” that the Davao City mayor would run for president in the May 2022 elections. As a close political ally of Ms. Duterte – who doesn’t use her married surname of Carpio, for some unknown reason – Salceda’s statement can be taken with more than just a grain of salt.
Sara Duterte does have one problem, and that she does not have a major political party backing her candidacy. But daddy Digong is making sure that the party that propelled him to the presidency in 2016 will recruit her as standard bearer.
There’s just one problem. Senator Manny Pacquiao is now the president of that party, PDP-Laban, and he is known to be dead set on also running for president next year.
While Pacman and daddy Digong have both professed to admire each other in the past, that may now be changing.
Last week, Energy Secretary and PDP-Laban vice chairman Alfonso Cusi called for a national assembly, supposedly to determine what the party can do to help Mr. Duterte in his final months in office.
No problem here, except he bypassed Pacquiao in making that call, which naturally got the goat of the boxer-turned-senator, who then issued an advisory telling all party members to ignore Cusi’s invitation.
For the record, Pacquiao only assumed the presidency of the party last year. The titular hear remains President Duterte. I have no idea why Cusi became vice chairman, except maybe because he is a billionaire like Pacquiao. Cusi, however, has no political experience. He has never run for any political post.
Pacman tried to settle the issue by asking to meet with the president. But instead of agreeing to Pacman’s request, Mr. Duterte said PDP-Laban should go ahead and push through with the assembly, scheduled for this week.
So what will Pacquiao do next?
For now, he is preparing for what may well be his final professional fight. He is meeting undefeated American Errol Spence in Las Vegas on August 21, this year.
Pacquiao enters that fight as the underdog, and he took a big risk in taking it. A loss will definitely affect his chances of winning the presidency next year, as he will be perceived as a loser in the fight that caps his illustrious career.
But he will earn big bucks, which he will need to fund his campaign.
There are ongoing machinations within his PDP-Laban but it is unclear if Cusi has the wherewithal to wrest control of the party from Pacman.
Still semi-active in the party is former Speaker and one-time Duterte ally Pantaleon Alvarez, who appears to have thrown his lot with the fighting senator rather than the presidential daughter.
Alvarez has formed his own regional party, but being a pure trapo, he keeps the door open to a glorious return to the party where he served as Secretary General for five years before “resigning” late last year.
My take is that the Dutertes now recognize the influence of the Pambansang Kamao, and are afraid of it.
Presuming that Pacman and Sara both run for president, there remains an elephant in the room in the person of former senator Bongbong Marcos.
Like Donald Trump, he never accepted his last defeat. Unlike the 45th POTUS, however, the son and namesake of the late dictator appears to be a spent political force, who only has tons of money stashed somewhere. Now in his 60s, next year’s elections will be his last chance to return to national politics after his previous uneventful term as senator.
Bongbong along with sister Senator Imee met with Sara this week, and it’s a safe bet they did not discuss the coronavirus pandemic or where to buy the best lechon.
The question is, are the Marcoses planning on asking Sara to slide down to VP as Bongbong seeks the presidency? And would she agree if they make it worth her while?
And what of Bong Go? Will the lawmaker with the worst teeth in the Senate and who keeps getting humiliated in debates by Senator Franklin Drilon beg Pacman to recruit him as running mate?
Expect a lot of unexpected, even unbelievable, developments to take place in the weeks and months to come. Such is the way of Philippine politics.
Sickening, isn’t it?