Centrist Democracy Political Institute - Items filtered by date: December 2021
Wednesday, 29 December 2021 06:38

The Sun Tzu of Philippine politics?

WITH what is developing in the political scene President Duterte appears to be just a partial lame duck. His failure to field a presidential ticket, first time ever for a political party in power, caused chiefly by his own bumbling moves passing for a political strategy, although tragic, can still be salvaged.

He can still save the day by endorsing a presidential candidate, instruct his compliant PDP-Laban faction to adopt the chosen one and negotiate the continuance of whatever part of his legacy he wants perpetuated. Presidential endorsement with all the pelf, power and logistics behind it can influence outcomes. Some of the five presidentiables could be benefited, or it could spell a kiss of death to some. But it's no longer solely the President's play, the initiative no longer his – the way it could have been had daughter Sara acquiesced and not shown defiance against the wishes of Tatay and run for president and with surrogate son Bong Go as a spare. Political reality intervened distorting the Deegong's well-laid plans — if ever there was one. Still a serendipitous opportunity may have opened up for the President to still wield a modicum of influence in electing his successor. And again, the DDS-Fist Bumpers may attribute this to the President's political genius, deluding themselves into believing that this was Deegong's intent and strategy — ab initio!

Whom and when to endorse

BBM's is a no brainer, for several reasons. Duterte's own father was once in Marcos' Cabinet. His allowing the reburial of the patriarch defined these close family ties. But the more crucial factor is that BBM is currently leading in the polls with Sara's help. Nevertheless, Duterte's endorsement would prove to be marginal and will be perceived by the Marcos camp as simply a validation of an already "sure winner."

But the negative flipside of late is the declaration by the Deegong himself that BBM is a weak leader, a drug user, a cocaine head, and a scion of a family of "kawatans" — a harsh and hurtful indictment. But Bongbong and Imee, both accomplished politicians, may dismiss these remarks today as an understandable consequence of the Marcoses putting one over Sara, forcing her to slide down at the last minute as BBM's VP instead of the other way around. The same endorsement could be glossed over within the context of "politics is addition." But not after BBM wins, if ever. All bets are off. There will be hell to pay. And Duterte knows this.

He speaks with forked tongue

It is public knowledge that Isko Moreno is salivating for the Deegong's endorsement after the withdrawal of Bong Go from the presidential race. "Kung ako and mapupusuan nila, oi salamat..." (If I am the one chosen, thank you in advance. Rappler, Nov. 30, 2021.) But in the same breathe, it too is public knowledge that Isko Moreno has been badmouthing the President since his own declaration of a presidential run, criticizing Duterte's despotic tendencies, the drug war killings particularly in Manila where he is the "yorme," and belittling the President's pandemic response, at one time playing to the audience as he invited the President to come to his turf in Moriones, Tondo to prove his "tapang" (bravery or manliness) — or something to that effect in a scathing challenge in the vernacular in a video clip that went viral. "Hindi naman kayo nakikinig. Bungol naman kayo...'yung mga pasangano-sanganong sagot, nabili na 'yan, kumita na 'yan nuong 2016 (You don't listen. You are deaf. Your bravado and bluster in 2016 are passé...no longer sells)."

Isko is now singing a different tune. At one time, he boasted he would be appointing Duterte into his cabinet if he wins. Before Duterte's withdrawal from the senatorial race, he offered to adopt him in his senatorial slate.

This turnaround by Isko reveals the real image of the man — a profile in inconsistency of a traditional politician, a political chameleon changing his color at will, depending on the circumstances and opportunities that present themselves. What a waste for a young man whose narrative followed the winning classic plot of a poor man from the slums of Tondo to the mayoralty of his city and a stab at the country's presidency.

The verbal joust is not one-sided as PRRD also referred to Isko as a small-time actor, a bit player hinting at his sexy (pornographic) screen roles being degenerate. There seems to be no love lost between the two but the onus at reconciliation is on Isko as an opportunity has offered itself with the Deegong disparaging the frontrunning BBM.

The also-rans

If polls were the only guidelines, Manny the pambansang kamao and Ping, the crime fighter, will not rate Duterte's endorsement. Both are struggling with their single-digit numbers. And the former with a false pretense at nonchalance really needs Duterte's nod for him to cross over to the fighting column or face a TKO on his presidential ambition. With his recent mumbo-jumbo underscored by inane religious undertones, he declared "Kung ie-endorso ako, walang problema. Pagkakaisa naman ang isinusulong natin kasi biblical naman 'yan eh. ...[If] a kingdom is divided against themselves, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided, that house cannot stand" (ABS-CBN News, Dec. 1, 2021). Duterte's tiff with Manny is not that serious and easily repairable. It might even heal the wounds inflicted by the split of the majority party, PDP-Laban, and bring the two factions together. But this could prove to be an exceptionally long shot.

On the other hand, the Lacson-Sotto slate prefers to follow an independent path — explaining vaguely that the same "should be earned, and never demanded...and not asking for the endorsement of the President was [our] way of sustaining [our] 'self-dignity';" leaving ajar a possible testimonial of some sort, although anticipating that they will not get it, either which way. Their numbers are at the tail end and even a presidential endorsement cannot advance them that much — soiling the president's reputation as a political strategist.

The Leni factor

But the President has always operated mostly in unpredictable and shocking ways, mostly for dramatic effect. Endorsing Leni though mind-boggling may be one of these. The Deegong may be laying the groundwork with his reported recent pronouncement, appearing in social media, praising the vice president for her quick response to Typhoon "Odette": "'Pag sinabi kong weak leader, weak leader talaga 'yan, tingnan ninyo, where is Bongbong? Baka nag sisinghot singhot na naman. Mas isog (matapang) pa si Inday. Lupig (talo) pa sya ng babae. Speaking of [babae], I would like to thank the office of the Vice President and si Leni for setting aside our politics and helping our kababayans in Mindanao and Visayas." If not fake news, this could be the precursor of a tie-breaker — the Pinks would wish!

My conjecture is, like the Iglesia ni Kristo (INK) and even the appointed son of God, he might endorse the winning candidate at the last moment leaving a semblance of an image, the "king maker"!

Or the Deegong could just stay put, do nothing, and let the protagonists destroy each other — and he picks up the pieces after.


Published in LML Polettiques
Wednesday, 22 December 2021 06:42

Not a requiem but a canticle

IN my Dec. 8, 2021, column, in the section "The rape of PDP-Laban," I anticipated the withdrawal of Duterte from the Senate race: "The Cusi-DU30 faction was stripped of a presidential and vice-presidential ticket, inducing similarly inclined candidates whose options may just be to withdraw, leaving DU30 by his lonesome as its senatorial bet. He may eventually have to withdraw, turning the scenario into a full-scale tragedy with the administration candidates in limbo, waiting for who the Deegong will support from among other political parties. This, in effect, is a virtual 'self-rape' of the PDP-Laban."

Thus, it has come to pass, but for the shortsighted diehard DDS and ignorant fist-bumping hordes who swear by the President's genius at political strategy, what was displayed as "strategic moves" was just political slapstick — clumsy attempts by a lame duck president at relevance. Perhaps he should have comprehended that this craving for relevance at the waning of his presidency — which is natural in exiting administration — will not be satiated by his continued presence either as a future vice president or even the president of the Senate. His significance to the political environment and more importantly to the life of Filipinos is best ascertained through the fruits of what he has planted over his incumbency. And history will be the sole and ultimate judge.

Conflicting concerns

The president's political initiatives at the closing episodes of his presidency were understandably meant to perpetuate his legacy through his own political dynasty with an eye to his own protection for the next six years — owing to the International Criminal Court's preparing human rights violation charges when he leaves office. PRRD was confident that things would fall in place and his family toeing the line by imposing primarily his paternal influence. Sara was there to succeed him with Sen. Bong Go (SBG) as the princeling-in-waiting (he failed), though he succeeded locally with his sons, Paolo and Baste.

As an initial gambit, the possibility of an SBG-Duterte ticket was circulated. It was meant to be a joke – and PRRD knew it, but only the DDS-fist bumpers bought it. With PDP-Laban's acquiescence, Pacquiao and Koko were first disposed of, leaving the party available for Sara. She didn't bite. This has always been the Deegong's dream team — Sara-SBG. When Sara filed her CoC for Davao City mayor, the s**t hit the fan. So, the strategist hastily installed another willing stooge, Senator Bato (Mr. Mockery), and SBG — just in case Sara changes her mind. With these puerile attempts, the political strategist may have eroded his legacy — for whatever it's worth. But in the end, his withdrawal from his senatorial bid signals, to me at least, the man after all and in the end has succumbed to his better judgment and to the interest of all.

A legacy

Further examination will conclude that the Deegong has done well by many indicators and will be remembered and, perhaps even more, appreciated in the coming years when the cobwebs of political trauma have cleared. No need to qualify his accomplishments now — from Build, Build, Build to articulating an independent foreign policy course — but simply to note that the greater majority of our people placed their trust in him. And this crucial metric hovering at an unprecedented 80 percent approval rating has been sustained. This is as obvious as any legacy he wishes to leave behind. 

vIt is just unfortunate, especially for us Centrist Democrats (CD) and many like-minded voters who were attracted to his candidacy in 2015-2016 by his advocacies on pursuing political reforms, that he did not follow these through. Our position has always been towards a long-term sustainable solution to the ills of Philippine society — not simply as panacea. I wrote these back then:

"Duterte was propelled to the presidency partly on his campaign commitment to a set of political reforms, including establishing a federal system of government. It was assumed that the President would keep his word, ushering all these under his promise of "pagbabago." But somewhere along the way he dropped the ball, degrading his agenda into mere motherhood statements — amounting to nothing.

"One paramount shared advocacy is federalism, a systemic reformatting of the political structures overarching most of the problems and perversions of our government and society. We reluctantly accepted a traditional politician possessing the political will to transform our cherished but dysfunctional democratic institutions, and even destroy the vestiges of his own kind. This is a paradox, a traditional politician, candidate Duterte vowing to dismantle traditional politics using traditional means. Parliamentary federalism through constitutional revisions was a battle cry we responded to from the presidential candidate from the very start."

This would invariably need the overhaul of the 1987 Constitution to dismantle the scaffolding upon which all these are braced. I draw heavily from the Centrist Democrats (CD) ideological perspective calling for systemic changes to the political, economic and cultural underpinnings of Philippine society.

The Senate proved to be the stumbling block to these changes to the Constitution. To be relevant, he can still use his influence and the full force of government to push for the presidential candidate and the potential senators who would fulfill his original advocacies for political reforms which should include the eradication not only of the oligarchy's political influence and political dynasties but for the other ills plaguing Philippine society. This despite his having created his own political dynasty.

A siren's call

Consequently, he need not be goaded by his minions into continued involvement in current politics, which is turning out to be akin to the clumsy and bumbling Keystone Cops-like burlesques and deadly to what he hopes to leave behind. He deserves to be above all this.

Admittedly, the Deegong was going to win hands down as a senatorial candidate. But this is at best anticlimactic to his four decades-long political journey, particularly to his stint as the country's strong man. He will not wield that kind of power and influence among 23 others in the Senate compared to when he was alone at the top of the totem pole. But it was a lonely place up there. A strong-willed despot is wont to make a lot of bad moves. And he did. Appreciating this fact and acting on it could be his ultimate class act. Now he has five months to "cross the T's and dot the I's" of his administration. He will of course still be subject to the temptation of politics — a siren's song. It is in his blood. It is the nature of the beast. But his withdrawal from the Senate race is a grand act.

And the lure of history and how he will be judged may prove to be too seductive even for this alpha-male. At the twilight of his reign, I am confident he will do the right thing. With that, the people from Davao, his old schoolmates and perhaps more importantly, his subdivision neighbor like myself, will welcome him with warm and open arms.

The man needs to rest, sit on his laurels and perhaps like me, cherish his grandkids.

Welcome back to Davao, Mr. President!

Published in LML Polettiques
Wednesday, 15 December 2021 06:52

A taste of pastoral America and local autonomy

UNLESS more earth-shaking developments on the Philippine political front appear, this column will digress to chronicle life in and around suburban Baltimore, Maryland, where I am currently carving out the last leg of my professional career — grandfatherhood — not in the mold of a doting Filipino Lolo, hovering over Pinoy "tsikitings," but presiding over highly independent-minded American-born and -bred miniature versions of adults with proclivities of their own. Every day is an exercise in negotiations with 6-8-10-year-olds who fancy themselves your co-equals whose spaces into which one can't simply intrude. At 7:30 a.m. every weekday, the battle to get them off to school begins with Oliver's declarations: "I hate Monday mornings," and "I hate school" some other days. And "I hate Wednesdays" at mid-week. The middle child, Sylvie, is the hardest to rouse from bed. I don't see her smile in the mornings. Surprisingly, the eldest, Max, has of late been helpful, scraping the snow off the car's windshield, but his demeanor respecting the elders is left to be desired.

Philippine setting

God! I miss the mornings in the Philippines when the yayas do these chores, dressing the kids up, feeding them a hurried breakfast but conveniently driven off in the family van by a driver, a routine interrupted only by the year of online schooling in Davao at the height of Covid. Here at Reisterstown after school, one can barely communicate with them as they are all absorbed with their devices, IPads and cellphones doing "Minecraft," the internet application whose creator should have been arrested, drawn and quartered. During homework, bath and dinner times, the negotiations persist until lights out; only to resume the next morning captured in a time-loop — mimicking the movie "Groundhog Day."

In the Philippines, grandparents are with kids only for brief periods for fun and games, after which, tired but fulfilled, they are dispatched back to their parents and eventually to the yaya. Not in America! Lolo (that's me) and Momsie (Lola Sylvia) are the grandparents-cum-yaya taking the slack off the parents, who are both professionals working from home for corporate entities in the Philippines.

American suburbia

In my earlier Facebook postings and columns, still jet-lagged, I narrated the exciting first few days of life in an American farming community. With travel cobwebs cleared, we are settled on a regular routine subject to the rhythms of life in the semi-rural community of Reisterstown in Baltimore County, 45 minutes off the seaport metropolis.

This American county of 25,000 souls is equivalent to Calinan, a barrio where I grew up, now elevated to a barangay of Davao City with a population of 24,000. But the similarity ends here. The difference in the demographics between the two sites in economic, social and political metrics is equivalent to the gap between heaven and earth. Reisterstown is what I envision Calinan could be transformed into given the right type of political leadership and restructuring we should be allowed to choose.

By definition, American rural communities are expanded outside of populated urban areas with large open spaces containing few houses with neighbors far out of shouting distance. Primarily agricultural, its inhabitants work on farms and ranches, where wildlife is abundant due to a sparse population augmented by strict laws governing the preservation and protection of natural habitats. An example is the nearby county of Monkton — a horse- raising community where grand houses and estates still breed horses for racing. According to one blue-nose family who lived in that area dating back to the 1800s, six families only own one 2,000-acre (809 hectares) area.

On the other hand, some of these communities, not necessarily farming ones, are mixed-use or residential areas, encroached by a city -- an urbanized area within commuting distance of a metropolis where the inhabitants work. These are then called the suburbs — adjacent to urban sprawl. A little bit confusing, but people here know who they are and pay taxes to the right entity — a far cry from many Filipino urban, suburban, or rural dwellers who evade taxes, "kung makakalusot." These taxes are what fuel the better-than-average municipal amenities and local government services to its inhabitants.

Government subsidiarity

Philippine suburban growth follows a general pattern of middle-class migration from city centers, but the similarities with the American suburb would end there. Take Manila, the country's premier city. Currently, just one of the 16 cities comprising Metro Manila, the latter has grown to 14 million people today, swelling by another 3 million in the daytime by an influx of suburban population working in the cities. But one phenomenon attributable to Third World countries is that similar capital metropolises (provincial and regional hubs) bulged due to the constant migration from rural areas and other smaller cities in the country seeking jobs and economic opportunities, straining further the already burdened public services. Many of these people are constrained to live in the inner cities and "slums." The middle class are either driven toward an urban sprawl, or create enclaves within these metropolises called subdivisions or "gated communities," or simply live in expensive high-rise apartments.

Which brings me partly to the point of this column. We don't seek to mimic American suburbanization patterns. But the glaring differences are the political structures by which local governments and cities are run, impacting their overall growth — population, income and services.

Basically, this redounds to the ability of their political leadership to run their cities autonomously the way they see fit, limited only by the mandates of its citizenry and its laws. The Philippine political system is highly centralized with the decision-making process structured from top to bottom, with the locals not so much involved but simply assenting to the same.

Researching here in my "free library office," Reisterstown and most towns in America simply implement government subsidiarity and autonomy similar to what I have been advocating in my past columns.

Simply put, the US system first localized their concept of democracy to the neighborhood level, making it easy for its citizens to make small decisions; a bottoms-up approach precipitating ideas and concerns elevating the same to the next higher level. In our case, from our barangay to the municipio, to the ciudad and probinsya. These processes allow better understanding of local issues unique to that community-producing solutions that are more responsive to their needs. We, Centrist Democrats (CD) call this principle "Pinatubo — not Pinatulo"!

Central to all these is the granting of taxation authorities and disbursements of the same with strict proper accountability. The whole concept needs a restructuring of our political system focusing not only on a leap of faith for our people's ability to govern themselves but to coat these with legal articulations.

Back in the Philippines, I don't see any of the presidential candidates outline these concepts, advocating the methods necessary to implement the same when elected. The CDs have been labeling these as subsidiarity and autonomy towards an eventual federal Philippines.

So simple yet not propounded by Bongbong, Leni, Isko, Manny and Ping.

Published in LML Polettiques

IN the weeks I have been ensconced in a sprawling farmhouse in a bucolic community with gentrified neighbors miles apart where horses are paddocked and cattle enclosed within corrals with wild deer roaming about freely, I find myself puttering around the estate, occupied with chores, which was why my daughter, Lara, had insisted that we spend the holidays with them in the first place. Since we have no yayas (nannies), Sylvia and I take turns hovering over our grandchildren, Oliver, Sylvie and Max, aged 6, 8 and 10, respectively, chauffeuring them to and from school — if their mom is not available. Their dad Matt is an excellent chef, concocting culinary wizardry to the delight of the children who have been taught to distinguish between coq au vin, pot-au-feu and tinolang manok. The couple work online from home with occasional sorties to NYC and the west coast as fintech for Philippine conglomerates where the time difference between Baltimore and Manila deprives them of much needed sleep.

Lolo the chauffeur

Thus, some days I drop them off at school at 9:05 a.m., picking them up around 4:05 p.m. The queuing at the school driveway is a study in military precision where each car is allowed only a minute in the drop-off zone where driving moms, dads and lolos frantically hustle their kids to disembark or board the vehicles. Between hatid and sundo, I spend a quiet time in a place I discovered near a Target store with a Starbucks inside for my regular dose of cappuccino grande. The Baltimore County Public Library, my "rent-free office," courtesy of the good tax-paying people of Baltimore welcoming temporary residents like me, boasts of an array of the latest computers with fast internet, all available to library card holders, allowing access to social media and all sorts of periodicals and books, a far cry from our public libraries in the Philippines. I had been to one years back, and that was it! And I pay my fair share of taxes regularly.

Which brings my thoughts back to our country, especially at this time when we are given the opportunity to pick the right people to govern us. In my semi-isolation in this quaint community, I seldom meet Filipinos, and those that I do, absent from home due to the pandemic, are curious about local happenings: the presidential elections for one and how the popular president has been messing it up as his strategy; of course, Covid-19 and how our country is coping; and surprise of all surprises — the fate of the appointed son of God, charged in the US for sex trafficking. These issues are interrelated but not necessarily in the order of importance.


Last Thursday (Manila time), the first Covid-19 Omicron variant was detected in California on a fully vaccinated traveler from South Africa. Anthony Fauci, the eminence grise of US health, said authorities "knew it was just a matter of time" before this strain hit the US, reminding Americans that vaccination, boosters and the observance of strict anti-Covid protocol remains the best defense. On the other hand, many experts agree that the advent of the Omicron variant could signal the end to this deadly scourge.

Like the common cold infecting millions but killing none, Omicron causes mild symptoms that disappear in a few days, leaving the infected population with sufficient antibodies in their immune system. This is a good development, according to medical experts in the fight against mutating variants from Covid-19, with the Delta variant to Omicron eventually ushering in the pandemic's demise.

The wrath of Quiboloy

But not to the Philippines' disease polymath par excellence. The appointed son of God warned that the world will suffer a fate "much worse than the Omicron virus" if he is continuously "hurt and persecuted... on the sex charges filed against him by US authorities, using his influence as religious chief to entice or coerce girls and young women to have sex with him during what they termed as 'night duties'." (PDI, Nov. 29, 2021) These charges have been denied by Quiboloy who also happens to be PRRD's spiritual adviser.

With his direct heavenly connection, he will cause the appearance of "flesh-eating bacteria immune to any vaccine" that will descend upon his alleged persecutors who make a mockery of him. With his intercession, the Covid-19 D-variant, and now Omicron, are only introductory evidence of his power.

"The day of the Lord is here — do not ever play a joke or continue to pursue the persecution of the appointed son because the Father in heaven has already declared through the appointed son. No one can escape this." (PDI, Nov. 29, 2021) World, be forewarned!

For the skeptics they may be reminded that the good reverend stopped the earthquake from devastating a southern Mindanao province in 2019, by simply declaring "earthquake, stop!"

The rape of PDP-Laban

In the genre of politics as pornography, we have of late witnessed the travails of the dominant political party — the PDP-Laban. Founded in 1982 by the late senator 'Nene' Pimentel and Southern Mindanao colleagues, it reached its apex upon the Deegong's recruitment and consequent ascent to the presidency. Hoping to extend his influence and legacy, the President as the chief strategist choreographed the rise of daughter Sara as the heir-apparent with his surrogate son, Bong Go, as the princeling-in-waiting. But one did not get the memo. Sen. Koko Pimentel instead staged-managed the PDP-Laban presidency of Manny Pacquiao, who already salivated for the Philippine presidency, thus unraveling PRRD's not so well laid plans — a daughter-father tandem with the latter as VP. Pacquiao/Pimentel's initiatives provoked a party split. The schism further dampened Sara's already lukewarm attitude towards the PDP-Laban, prompting the Cusi-DU30 faction to craft a joke of a strategy — the Senators Bato-Go ticket — while still hoping for Sara would change her mind.

Sara boldly drove the last nail in the coffin of the Deegong's plan with her "last two minutes" move to run under Bongbong Marcos as his VP — enraging the President further to cause him to elevate Bong Go to president-designate, directing Bato to withdraw and he himself running for senator.

The last straw was Bong Go's complete surrender to the inevitable realization that he was never fit for the presidency in the first place, but for his loyalty to the badgering president who was "more than a father to me," he declared.

The Cusi-DU30 faction was therefore stripped of a presidential and vice-presidential ticket inducing similarly inclined candidates whose options may just be to withdraw, leaving DU30 by his lonesome as its senatorial bet. He may eventually have to withdraw, turning the scenario into a full-scale tragedy with the administration candidates from congress people to local executives in limbo, waiting for who the Deegong will support from among other political parties. This in effect is a virtual "self-rape" of the PDP-Laban.

As blood is thicker, he may have to swallow his words to advance his daughter's interest and go for one he has accused of being a cocaine dependent, from a "family of kawatans."

And this, from the genius of a political strategist! What a mess!

Published in LML Polettiques
BETWEEN Marcos and the Chinese candidate, whom do you choose? This query was a private message sent by a reader of my column. Obviously a Bongbong Marcos fan or a longtime Marcos loyalist, he tried to make a case for BBM's presidency. But what is intriguing is his perception of Sen. Bong Go as being China's presidential bet — if indeed there is one. This column will follow this line of reasoning and speculate on the possibilities of foreign governments pushing for candidates in this current 2022 election campaign.

In international relations, the government of the day's very existence sometimes rests on the choices of its current administration or set of its political leadership and its associated bureaucracies. This is based on the perceived interest of that government ultimately representing the aspirations of its people as interpreted by its leaders and politicians. This is a legitimate action by governments and regimes assuring their survival. World history is replete with such paradigms; sometimes leading to open conflicts or war if the interest of one country or its alliance clashes with those of others. After the Second World War and during the Cold War, disputes between partisan countries surfaced from time to time, leading to local wars or initiations of low intensity conflicts or the perpetuation of violent and destructive engagements using surrogate countries or groups within those countries engaging in guerrilla warfare, resulting in the destabilization of states perforce advancing the interest of the perpetrators. We see these intermittent "bush fires" in Africa, South America and the Middle East

US interventions as templates

Among the notorious ones is America, the hegemon that emerged after WW 2. In a study published by the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University, academic Doy Levin wrote that there were 117 "partisan electoral interventions" between 1946 and 2000 and 70 percent of these were cases of US interference. "Sixty different independent countries have been the targets of such interventions...the targets came from a large variety of sizes and populations, ranging from small states such as Iceland and Grenada to major powers such as West Germany, India and Brazil." Most were done in secret with voters oblivious of foreign powers actively trying to influence results.

In the Philippines "the Central Intelligence Agency had a strong influence on the 1953 elections, and candidates in the election fiercely competed with each other for US support. CIA agent Edward Lansdale purportedly ran the successful 1953 presidential campaign of

Interventionist policies were done during the Ferdinand Marcos regime, perhaps even tolerated. Vice President George W. Bush when he visited Manila in 1981 addressed Marcos: "We love your adherence to democratic principles and democratic processes." And this was at the height of the repressive martial law that later led to the despot's downfall. The US later reversed course when Reagan's Secretary of State George Schultz advised "President Reagan to threaten to cut off military aid to Marcos if he continued to refuse to accept the popular verdict (Cory's snap election victory) and step down." (American Foreign Policy: Studies in Intellectual History. Edited by Jean-Francois Drolet, James Dunkerley, Manchester University Press, 2017.)

Currently we still have to discover who the US candidate is.

A case for China

In the same Carnegie study, former Foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, alleged that Chinese officials in February 2019 had bragged about having influenced the 2016 presidential elections to favor President Rodrigo Duterte.

The case for China being in Bong Go's corner is peripheral and circumstantial at best but anchored on the oft-repeated position of the DDS/Fist Bumpers that Bong Go is meant to perpetuate Duterte's legacy and the instrument for the Deegong's extension of his relevance to the body politic. In the wake of the Marcos pre-emption of Sara, reducing the once formidable heir-apparent to a spare tire, Bong Go's importance to Duterte became critical, thus PRRD's advice to give up his PDP Laban-goaded VP candidacy for the presidency itself. Even Senator Bong was conflicted with his imposed status, "Nabigla ako. hindi pa pumapasok sa isipan ko kung bakit ako nandito as a candidate po ng pagiging president...iniisip ko pa nang mabuti, nag-aantay po ako ng sign sa Panginoon (I was surprised. It has not sunk in as to why I am a candidate for president...I am still thinking about it and waiting for a sign from God)." (The Manila Times, by Al Jacinto, Nov. 25, 2021.) This is as close an admission as any that the good senator is clueless. His role as President Duterte's marionette is simply to extend the puppeteer's political power and influence by other means, one which Duterte's own flesh and blood, Sara, saw through and refused.

But central to the perception of Senator Go being China's boy is Duterte's decidedly pro-China stance on his tolerance and even acquiescence on China's encroachments in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea). The current blue ribbon hearings on the Pharmally corruption scandals have established Duterte's undue preference for his Chinese colleagues. His actuations in the past (TMT: "Sinification of the Philippines" articles) would establish his soft spot for mainland China's predilections.


For five decades, I was anti-Marcos as many of my generation were during that sad epoch ended by the Cory forces during EDSA People Power Revolution. But many began to be conflicted after subsequent governments post-Cory have not substantially improved our lives. I was with Cory and supported those that came after Marcos. I was supportive of Duterte until he discarded political reforms and federalism, his main advocacies that catapulted him to the presidency. Many, like I am now, are faced with a dilemma.

Will I discard my five decades of anti-Marcos sentiments in favor of China's candidate? Don't get me wrong. I love the Chinese. I have Chinese blood. I respect their position. I read Tiglao and his compelling arguments ad nauseam about PNoy Aquino's connivance with US President Obama's people resulting in the consequent occupation of islands in the WPS we can't truly claim as ours. But I resent the continued Chinese bullying, an example of which is the recent water cannon attack on Philippine boats and other similar instances of China's intimidation within our territory. What is unconscionable is our President's deafening silence save for the half-assed statements by his subalterns. His non-action I'm certain will be mirrored by his candidate, Bong Go, if he wins. This forces me to look at the alternative to the China candidate — Leni, Isko, Ping and Manny. Polls after polls show the near impossibility of their making it, except perhaps for Leni. Thus, I have to re-examine my position with BBM. My quarrel is not with him. It is with the repressive martial law regime of his father, Ferdinand Macoy, and his legacy. I doubt the son will act like his father. The opposite could happen. Having the Marcos name vilified for decades, a son's filial duty is first to clear it and do good by it. Perhaps this Marcos fils has been sufficiently chastised to make amends and eventually do good by the Filipino.

Still, the voters will have the last say.
Published in LML Polettiques