A convoluted political conjuring and a grand moro-moro ABS-CBN News

A convoluted political conjuring and a grand moro-moro Featured

MISDIRECTION is a magician's art, making the audience believe what it sees while the reality is something else. It is an elegant deception when the trick is executed to perfection. The magician refocuses the audience's attention to where he directs it while achieving what he sets out to do in the first place. His tools of trade - optical illusions, smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand, hypnosis - may be applied all at once or in phases for the spectators' benefit, conjuring up different realities. He does not act alone. His accomplices and minions are privy to the misdirection's design. Overwhelmed by the magician's sheer dominance and control of the performance, the timing and the unfolding phases, the eyewitnesses' disbelief is momentarily suspended with their acquiescence. He is the main actor. His subordinates merely assume lesser roles.

All audiences love to be entertained; the Filipino audience is no exception. Before the movies, the internet, YouTube and Facebook, our amusements revolved around the entablado (stage) - zarzuelas and moro-moro (passion play), performed during town fiestas. The former" is a play with songs and dances, usually written in prose, depicting the vagaries of romantic love among idealized Filipino characters and often incorporating contemporary social, political, economic or cultural issues for relevance and interest." (Wikipedia)

Moro-moro on the other hand is a form of theater depicting epic battles between Christians and Moros (Filipino Muslims) from the Spanish colonial period. Also called comedia, it was created principally by Spanish priests to spread Christianity, where the Moros were portrayed as the anti-heroes, the villains. Now, its popularity has faded but what remains is the pejorative underpinning of a scripted scenario whose outcome is predictably a forgone conclusion. In contemporary parlance, moro-moro is akin to a subterfuge.

The combination of two themes, magician's misdirection and moro-moro sham amidst the current environment of political circus and electoral campaign is what could explain the garish entertainment value of the following subject matter circulated to the public lately, segueing to the second part of this column:

Duterte vs Duterte

Headlines in the dailies and social media refer to President Rodrigo Duterte's two families being at loggerheads. To those disposed to chismis (gossip), the Aug. 25, 2021, offering of Politiko (echoed by The Manila Times) describing what many political cognoscenti have been whispering all along could be juicy tidbits:

"All gloves off! Sara v Bong Go/Honeylet is a proxy fight between Duterte's first and second families. For over five years, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and her siblings have toed the line by staying in the background while showing a united front behind their father, President Rodrigo Duterte.

"A Politiko source said Sara, Paolo and Baste kept their cool despite being boxed out of their father's life in Malacañang by his longtime aide, Sen. Bong Go, who is allied with the President's partner, Honeylet Avanceña.

"With the end of the President's term looming and Sara's stock soaring in presidential surveys, the source said the time of Duterte's first family to rise in power was imminent.

"By making the President run for vice president or for Go to run for either president or vice president in the 2022 elections, the source said the Bong-Honeylet camp would ensure they would extend their power over the next term by riding on the President's enduring popularity.

"The source said Sara saw through all of the Bong-Honeylet machinations of using her to further their stay in power, with the President as leverage.

"'I was left with two letters endorsed to me by the President for consideration – one note explained why I should endorse the Go-Duterte tandem and the other suggested that I take in Senator Go as my vice president, said Sara in a Facebook post." (All of the persons named have denied these allegations.)

This item implies that President Duterte is not in control of his two families and that they are in disarray; and that senility may have set in requiring the need for a surrogate son, Go, as cordon sanitaire.

The current political landscape

Taking all these in with a grain of salt, I take a contrarian view; the reason why I predicated this column with misdirection and moro-moro. I don't think this family conflict is entirely accurate, and even if true, its outcome could be in Duterte's favor.

The pandemic for one has taken a turn for the worse with his subalterns clueless in mitigating much less resolving with finality these disasters. The "urong-sulong" lockdown policy is dangerously inducing a "whac-a-mole" random appearances of Covid virus variants in the country. The resultant effect of a crippled economy driven to its knees has thrown thousands of unemployed to desperation.

But deadlier is a pattern of corruption appearing in the bureaucracy with the President admonishing the Commission on Audit, dismissing their findings of anomalies as "insufficient and deficient," contradicting his Duterte Doctrine of dismissing bureaucrats on a mere "whiff of corruption."

A different scenario emerges from the current Senate inquiry into the DoH/DBM - a kutsaba (conspiracy) involving the anomalous transfer and disbursement of P42 billion to a syndicate which presumably includes Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd, Undersecretary Christopher Lao and a certain Michael Yang, the president's former economic adviser. The implication, still murky at best, is that Go stands at Malacañang's gates preventing the muck from spilling over to the presidency. Unless this stops short at Duque as a scapegoat! The senator, changing his tune, is now persuading Duque to make the supreme sacrifice - effectively falling on his sword. Thus, the need for this Duterte family chismis diverting our attention from all these problems confronting the country at the twilight of his reign that could precipitate his Götterdämmerung.

By a magician's misdirection, the speculation for the next presidency is a convenient substitute reality; Lacson-Sotto, Isko Moreno, Robredo, Trillanes, etc. - all bit players in this moro-moro. Even the unfolding tragedy of the Pambansang Kamao, booted out from the presidency of his party with the tacit consent of Duterte, party chairman on the eve of what to his adulating fans was to have been a triumphal valedictory of a pugilist career, an overture to his presidential craving that turned into a swansong for a debacle. He is now impelled into negotiating with the opposition.

So, for the next few media cycles, on the internet, in the airwaves and on social media, the dominant theme fascinating to the chismis-(gossip)-prone-soap-opera-Korean-melodrama-loving masa (masses) will be the internecine conflict of Las Familias de Duterte, the perfect misdirection and a grand moro-moro production. Will he run for vice president (VP) under his surrogate son as proposed by his PDP-Laban faction? Will the daughter allow herself to be "pursuaded" to run for president with tatay (father) as VP? Will the two sides of the family compromise with the daughter for president and the surrogate son as VP? There are countless permutations extending this telenovela with the opposition condemned to binge-watching. Unless the Senate enquiry produces more salivating morsels derailing this diversion and moro-moro.

My take for now. Sara will run for president. And she could win! The vice president doesn't really matter - Gibo, Bongbong, Sotto and even Pacquiao. In the end, Las Familias de Duterte wins!

 

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