PH midterm elections — realignment of forces

PH midterm elections — realignment of forces Featured

Third of a series

PART 2 last week ended with injecting the first lady into our conversation as an embattled, powerful consort to a weak president. But this is not a tsismis column and until new developments surface that contribute to the success or failure of BBM's administration, topics on her will be irrelevant.

To recap, Duterte is impeded from another presidential run, but his attempts to insert himself into the political fray can't be curtailed. He is compelled to safeguard his legacy, the propagation of his political dynasty through VP Sara's ascendancy to the presidency, and, to a lesser degree, prevent his incarceration — a very long shot — resulting from the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation.

'Who in the world am I?'

On the other hand, BBM still has three years to redeem the Marcos name and cement its political dynasty dominance. None in the immediate family is on the horizon to take up the cudgels, except for the House speaker whose aborted constitutional shift to a parliamentary system that he hoped would guarantee him the prime minister post, dislodging VP Sara from the presidency, has failed — "suntok sa buwan," as we say in the vernacular.

There is still a year to go before the midterm elections, but the political maneuverings are palpable, portending tectonic shifts. For one, the UniTeam that propelled the two political dynasties may be splitting at the seams. BBM's Federal Party (PFP) recently forged an alliance with cousin Martin Romualdez's Lakas-CMD to establish the base for the administration's senatorial ticket. Lakas-CMD boasts 100 House members, while PFP claims nearly half of the provincial governorships. It will be noted that the UniTeam alliance that propelled BBM-Sara in the 2022 national polls was composed of the PFP, Lakas-CMD, VP Sara's Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), Partido ng Masang Pilipino (PNP) and assorted guest candidates. But a deal breaker could be the proviso of Speaker Martin that only those politicians in favor of the proposed Charter change would be included in their full senatorial slate — a constitutional proposal the Dutertes vehemently oppose.


Meantime, the once formidable PDP-Laban, the party that propelled Duterte to the presidency in 2016, has since undergone various permutations. The left-of-center (to center) party founded by the Mindanao-Visayas anti-Marcos dictatorship group headed by Nene Pimentel has completely lost its bearings. On its 42nd founding anniversary, one of its major factions decided to drop "Laban" from its name — harking back to the pre-1982 Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) prior to its merger with Ninoy Aquino's Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) — but without any ideological anchorage. It has become a pathetic floating shell of a political party peopled by shady politicians and prey to opportunists who possess the wherewithal to capture the brand for nefarious ends, with one faction of the originals headed by the iconic founder's lackluster son hankering for the post-martial law days.

Polls and surveys — same old, same old

One of the diversions appearing during the election season is the employment of polls and surveys, momentary photographs of where candidates, potential candidates, wannabees, and issues and preferences are temporarily situated or pervert the process to advance the agenda of those sponsoring the surveys. These are legitimate or biased, depending on where one sits. One, therefore, must take these polls with a grain of salt.

But as political "ususeros," Pinoys love to speculate this early on rankings of their favorite name brands. Not on issues, qualifications or what they stand for. Just tired popular political names — from the Tulfo brothers to actors turned pseudo-law experts, the Padillas and Revillas, to battered boxer Pacquiao, comedians, and senatorial buffoons, the likes of de la Rosa, Lapid, convicted felon Jinggoy, et al.

But we also have some long-shot speculators advancing a numbers game — "last 2 combinations," a Marcos-Duterte tandem post-BBM. This time, Sara and Imee, two formidable women who have displayed independent thinking and a modicum of political will — rightful heiresses to strong-willed fathers and much, much better than their inadequate brothers. Sara, the female Deegong sans the dirty mouth, and Imee, who perhaps inherited the incisive mind of the father and the charisma of the regal Imelda of the 3,000 shoes.

But can they hold their partnership and sustain their close sisterhood together and weather the influences of their respective families? With these two, the saga of their respective political dynasties may prosper while negating a warped conjugal presidency and an insufferable, aberrant, misogynistic father.

Midterm elections crucial — for whom?

May 2025 is a final barometer for a change only in political personalities for the next regime. It is possible that the Marcos camp could consolidate its supremacy and may even entrench the conjugal presidency. It is possible, too, that the Duterte camp will insinuate their people back in and reinforce VP Sara's claim to the next presidency, allowing the Deegong to continue his game at "pretend presidency." There could be drastic changes in the profile of the legislature and resuscitate the "Appointed Son of God" to continue being a fake arbiter of people's souls and influence outcomes of candidacies by dispensing the cult's captive votes. But will the changes in the midterm elections portend real changes to the Philippine system of governance?

What is at stake?

The real stakes in this midterm are nothing more than a change in personalities pursuing the goals of the olipolidyns ("The oligarchy and political dynasty — impact on governance," The Manila Times, April 3, 2024) political power that will enrich their respective camps; and maybe as an afterthought also benefit the people's welfare — if consonant with their objectives. The change will be in the actors, not the play — following the same plot and tired decades-old drama. There will be no systemic alterations to the dysfunctional system of governance long immersed in political patronage (polpat).

Of course, all sides will pay lip service to the following: poverty alleviation, the economy, corruption, peace and order and in foreign relations, China's bullying, and America's neocolonialism.

So, we go through the "moro-moro," a theater of the absurd, subjecting the incumbent government to whether the electorate is satisfied or not.

Publicus Asia Inc. pronounced dissatisfaction with the BBM administration: "Economic concerns, rising inflation, joblessness, low wages and a perceived lack of productivity are some of the emerging factors behind the drop in pro-administration support. The survey also noted that the 'Duterte effect' still persists, with opposition parties grappling with the discreditation of the previous administration."

On the other hand, OCTA Research survey "... found that fewer Filipino families rated themselves poor and hungry in the first quarter of 2024 ... the country's self-rated poverty is at 42 percent, which is 3 percent lower compared to 45 percent recorded in a similar survey held in the fourth quarter of 2023 ... It must be noted that self-rated poverty has been going down at a modest rate for the last five quarters starting July 2023."

The former found BBM's performance a dismal failure. The latter declares it's an unmitigated success. Go figure!

And on foreign relations, the usual motherhood statements, laced with a little arrogance, "We shall not surrender even an inch of our territory" — the helpless looking up to America for deliverance — in case!

To be continued

Read 159 times Last modified on Wednesday, 22 May 2024 23:01
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