Not a requiem but a canticle

Not a requiem but a canticle Featured

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!

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Read 685 times Last modified on Wednesday, 22 December 2021 10:55
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