What game are the Dutertes playing?

It’s all right for Rodrigo Duterte to turn himself into a global laughing stock. It’s not ok for the Philippines to turn into an Asian Somalia-cum-Latin American narco-state like Colombia, Mexico, or Guatemala.

The country is headed into that direction based on the machinations that are going on, which would install either Sara Duterte or Bongbong Marcos to the presidency.

It does not look that way for now, but there is plenty of time to continue with the political script that took a sudden and unexpected turn last week when Rodrigo Duterte announced that he was retiring from politics.

It’s all for show, of course. And no, I will not use that godawful term moro-moro. It’s a dog and pony show. It’s all smoke and mirrors. The end result has been pre-determined long ago.

For those with a long memory, it was about as dramatic as then president Ferdinand Marcos stating that he was surrendering all his worldly goods to the people.

Remember that?

The dramatic announcement was done by Makoy’s then spokesman Kit Tatad, who even shed a tear or two at the magnanimous act of his boss.

At least Duterte’s supposed retirement was not done by his obnoxious spokesman Harry Roque but by the president himself.

It was all nonsense, of course. See, Duterte had done the exact same thing back when he was running for president back in 2016. Good thing the Philippine Daily Inquirer reposted that announcement, which was even treated as banner news.

Duterte didn’t retire in 2016, and he has not really retired despite what he said last week.

This is the same guy who has said on multiple occasions that he wanted to resign, that he was too tired to continue, and that anytime the Armed Forces wanted him to leave, he would.

He may or may not remember anything he has said in the past. After all, he retracts his statements when it is convenient for him to do so. Almost always, he or his infernal spokesman will say that he was just joking.

There’s an old saying, if it’s too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Thus, last week the celebration over Duterte’s announcement that he was done with politics did not take place. It was just too good to be true.

Ditto with the announcement from daughter Sara that she was definitely not running for president and to prove her point she filed her Certificate of Candidacy seeking another term as Davao City mayor.

With the old man withdrawing his vice presidential bid and his hot-headed daughter opting to stay in their Davao turf, the presidency would have been a four-way battle between Senators Ping Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and Vice President Leni Robredo.

In theory, none of the four could have as horrible a presidency as old man Duterte, who has committed the most serious crimes of mass murder, surrendering the country’s patrimony to China, allowing various members of his Cabinet to commit wholesale plunder, and finally pushing the Philippines to the brink of a constitutional crisis.

He even managed to lawyer for a Chinese company that had won a multi-billion peso supply contract so obviously one-sided that Filipino doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals ended up using either sub-standard or expired personal protection equipment.

One thing should be perfectly clear. Corruption is a way of life for Rodrigo Duterte and family. He intends to install his daughter as president after him. If she really is against the idea, then the very worst-case scenario will take place: the son and namesake of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos could end up as Philippine president.

Then will the Republic of the Philippines not only revert back to being the Sick Man of Asia, the entire world will laugh at the Filipino people for first kicking out the dictator, only to welcome his son as leader of the country less than four decades later.

There may not be any elections at all, but if there are it’s a sure bet that the Duterte regime will employ all means fair and foul – mostly foul based on everything that has happened ever since the former Davao City mayor assumed the presidency – to guarantee a win by the handpicked candidate of Mr. Duterte.

I’m not making that up, by the way. A niece of the president named Nuelle Duterte has been saying as much, and she should know.

The Duterte regime has until the first week of November to set the stage for what will almost certainly be the biggest disaster to befall the Philippines since it first became a republic.

It is no exaggeration to say that the country’s last hope lies on the shoulders of Leni Robredo, who would easily win the presidency in a fair fight.

But that’s the rub. The fight will not be fair. The presidency will likely go to the candidate with the deepest pocket and who is more than willing to massively cheat in order to win. This includes the use of trolls to destroy the character of Robredo, or Moreno or Pacquiao or Lacson, then making sure that the Commission on Elections’ voting machines experience a 7-hour glitch as what happened in 2019, then reporting that the regime’s presidential and vice presidential bets had won by a landslide.

I’ve been wrong before and I hope I’m wrong now, but this is the scenario I foresee if Sara Duterte or Bongbong Marcos end up as the regime’s presidential candidate next year.

To prevent this disaster, what we mere mortals can do is to provide as much financial support to Robredo that she needs, storm the heavens with prayers, and when all else fails maybe even resort to witchcraft.

I’m only half serious with that last suggestion, ok? But if it works…why not?