Political permutations — 'last two jueteng' combinations

Political permutations — 'last two jueteng' combinations Featured

LAST week, I wrote about the mini saga of Sara Duterte-Carpio that started on Duterte's midterm when the intimations and the whispering of her succeeding the father as heir-apparent began to reverberate first among the political cognoscenti in Davao City; then spreading throughout the islands. The last few months witnessed the calculating Sara displaying what in hindsight, could now be considered as a feigned reluctance to go for the presidency, bolstered by the Deegong's statement seemingly with faux sincerity depicting a loving father's desire to protect a favorite child, asserting that the presidency is not for women. She had media eating out of her hands in the "on-again, off-again" moro-moro that dominated speculative politics for a good part of at least a year; until lured into what could only be deemed a gambit by the Marcos siblings, BBM and Imee, with the unwitting participation of GMA and the Lakas-CMD. Sara's "last two-minutes" move was a study in political timing – the seeming public denial hele-hele bago quiere, the CoC for mayoralty, the withdrawal of the same CoC, the last minute oath-taking with Lakas-CMD, a feather to GMA's cap, to the "almost-declaration" of her presidential candidacy. This game with the public's and her fans' emotional ebb and tide culminated in the one-week flurry of political masterstrokes. This one-week drama could rival that of any pandemic Korean telenovela except that Ferdinand Macoy's genius of a bloodline flows on the Marcos siblings. They saw or maybe even predicted Sara's last-minute moves, painting herself into a corner — ensnaring her at the end, perforce a forced VP run under a Marcos. The Marcoses came in with an all-in bet figuring Sara will not contest BBM on a MAD (mutually assured destruction) run for the presidency. This was Machiavellian at best applied to perfection.

Revival of a political divide

With these developments, the political divide has been somewhat defined. We now have the Marcos-Duterte firmly on one side tempting the opposition, if there is still one, to consolidate. This means the remaining presidential candidates may have to do some drastic recalibration and renegotiations. Offhand, Leni is now perceived to be the "true opposition," for whatever its worth as the rest are seen as "royal opposition" what with Isko promising the Deegong a cabinet post and Manny reportedly reconciling with the lame duck presidency. Perhaps, Ping can equate with Leni, but his campaign is in the doldrums. This state of disarray has principally been exacerbated by our arcane electoral laws encouraging last-minute substitutions.

With Sara, ignominiously sliding down to VP, she has surrendered the initiative to BBM and will settle down as a "spare tire." Her status has changed drastically, not necessarily for the better. She is not even assured of winning the vice presidency hands down now. Her long-running melodramatic performance may have been overplayed, stretching the play and the patience of both her fans and the general public, and in the end turning into a mere political satire.

Duterte playing his last cards

Duterte, playing a part in this overall moro-moro, advising his daughter "kunwari" at first to stay away from the presidency, penetrated the veil of deception and saw what for him was the Marcos subterfuge perpetrated on Sara forcing her to take second fiddle even as she led BBM in the polls from the very start. This precipitated a wild illogical reaction resulting in Bong Go, the son he never had, to give up his VP candidacy for the presidency and meet BBM head-on, while Duterte himself runs for senator.

As a digression, for the cinema aficionado, this reminds one of "The Devil's Advocate" where Al Pacino's character, John Milton, the devil himself, conspired with fate to have his daughter, Christabella Andreoli, portrayed erotically by Connie Nielsen, to procreate with her brother, Kevin Lomax, Keanu Reeves' character, to protect and perpetuate the Devil's legacy.

Political pairings

Now the political daggers are unsheathed. The fentanyl-using President has viciously attacked the erstwhile ally BBM as a cocaine-using cokehead and a weak leader. This singular character assassination attempt by the President himself has established BBM as the frontrunner. The other candidates must be salivating for similar assaults by an outgoing chief executive refocusing much needed media attention on them. More importantly, the Marcoses are now absolved from defending the Duterte administration as part of its "utang na loob" for allowing the reburial of the Marcos patriarch. All bets are off for the Marcos siblings and the Duterte père. This could prove to be complicated and embarrassing for Sara.

The first among many clichés in Philippine electoral politics is a historical anomaly imposed by our forefathers — that of splitting the president and vice president slate. Except perhaps for GMA and Noli de Castro, voters split their choices.

Putting on center stage again the Marcos name evokes old enmities and awakens fear among those martial law denizens now mostly in Leni's corner, opening the possibility of this election season's first permutation, derailing the BBM-ISD tandem with two women at the helm — a Leni-Sara partnership. This could be the recalibrated move of the "yellow cum pink" and a fanciful strategy. This effectively discards BBM and Kiko Pangilinan from the equation. Seemingly impossible, but in politics, nothing is, and the final arbiters are the voters. And the Filipino voters, sadly the masa, are driven more by gambling instincts — last two or jueteng syndrome — a popular number's game, and a predilection for the popular.

A second permutation is a subscript from the narrative of the DDS and fist-bumping loyalists, the Bong Go-Sara dream team. This is what the Deegong lusts for to still be in virtual control or at least be the major influence in the next administration. With him pining for the Senate presidency and GMA the speakership of the lower house; this would assure Duterte's protection from the clutches of international courts for charges against human rights violations resulting from the anti-illegal drugs initiatives.

A third permutation is the opposition's capturing the two top positions, a remote possibility: a Leni-Kiko or a Leni-Sotto — whose numbers are pretty much lethargic nonetheless a possible offshoot of the deterioration of Marcos-Duterte alliance forged from the time of Ferdinand Macoy's re-burial at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. Now the Deegong going for broke has labeled BBM's family as "kawatan." A sad end to a once thriving "lust affair."

Other permutations would depend solely upon the partisans' perception of the political flux emanating from the mockery of this election process triggered partly by the November 15 deadline for candidate substitutions. Through the splitting of the slate, a case can be made too for a BBM-Sotto, Isko-Sotto, Manny-Sotto, Ping-Sara — all possibilities but as remote as the polls have shown so far.

On the other hand, these musings are probably borne of jet lag after my 16-hour direct PAL flight from Manila to New York. Meantime, I look forward to enjoying my Christmas holidays and a skiing vacation in the kiddie slopes with my American grandchildren. The convoluted election circus campaign in the 'Pinas and Covid-19 be damned!


Read 655 times Last modified on Wednesday, 24 November 2021 14:03
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