The Sun Tzu of Philippine politics?

The Sun Tzu of Philippine politics? Featured

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 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.


Read 703 times Last modified on Wednesday, 29 December 2021 09:44
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