Manila Standard : PDP’s folly, BBM’s gain

16 August 2021

By Charlie V. Manalo | Manila Standard

Fait accompli.

That’s how PDP-Laban president Alfonso Cusi describes President Rodrigo Duterte’s planned run for the vice-presidential post in 2022.

Earlier, Cusi bared the party will nominate Duterte in their national convention this coming September 8 as Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go’s running mate in next year’s elections. While the Constitution prohibits a president from seeking reelection, no law bars him from running for a lower post including the vice presidency.

While the party membership is ecstatic over the proposed tandem believing they have a surefire winning ticket, not everyone is convinced. And that includes a core member of Duterte’s 2016 campaign group: Peter Tiu Laviña.

According to Laviña, PDP’s insistence to field the Go-Duterte ticket will force presidential daughter Inday Sara out of the race, resulting in administration allies fending for themselves.

It could be recalled that a number of major political parties, all of them allied with the administration, have expressed support for the younger Duterte, appealing for her to seek the presidency next year.

Leaders of Lakas-CMD, the Nacionalista Party, the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, and the National Unity Party have all expressed intention to coalesce with Sara’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago should she decide to run.

While Laviña says he believes Sara is “the strongest candidate and likely winner” if the elections were held today, it would be awkward for her to run against her father.

With regard to Go, Laviña says his chances are very slim. This is validated by numerous surveys showing Go at the tail end. And Go himself, acknowledges he is among the weakest of the probable candidates as he, on several occasions, have declared he would only run for president if the elder Duterte would be his running mate, as if admitting that without the president, he is non-existent as far as his political ambition is concerned.

Unfortunately for him, a vote for the elder Duterte, who is the strongest vice-presidential candidate at this point, will not necessarily translate into a vote for him.
In the post-EDSA elections, only the tandem of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Vice President Noli de Castro emerged victorious. And that is precisely because Arroyo, that time, already has her established command vote, which she only needs to reinforce via de Castro’s popularity as a television news anchor.

In Go’s case, he has no solid base to count on.

As such, PDP-Laban’s ambition to remain in power could actually spell a debacle for them, which on the other hand, could solidify another candidate’s quest for the presidency – that of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. or simply BBM to his followers.

Aside from the support of the other major political parties “displaced” in PDP’s Go-Duterte tandem which BBM could now court, the former lawmaker could also count on his loyal supporters – estimated to be around 15-million strong – who have been with him since he ran for senator in 2010.

Different surveys have shown him to be a strong contender, placing consistently in second place, next to Sara.

And the latest survey, conducted by radio station DZRH shows BBM slowly picking up, racking up 17.7 percent voters’ approval even as he has yet to declare his intention to run and for what post he will be running. Take note that the elder Duterte did not also start at the top of the survey but slowly climbed into the ratings after he officially declared his candidacy in the last week of November 2015, replacing PDP-Laban’s original candidate, Martin Diño.

Actually, the Go-Duterte tandem could also open the possibility of BBM partnering with a Duterte.

While Laviña said BBM could adopt the elder Duterte as his running mate, making the former senator the strongest candidate for next year, this writer sees a possibility of the former senator teaming up with the president's daughter instead.

It’s common knowledge that the relationship between the presidential father and the daughter is not an ideal one. There were times when Sara would even cross paths with her father.

Remember the famous Speakership change in 2018 when Sara orchestrated the removal of her father’s staunchest ally in Congress – former Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez and had him replaced by former President Arroyo?

For the 2019 elections, Sara fielded her own senatorial candidates, putting up her own political party, the local HNP, to national limelight. In fairness, Sara adopted the senatorial candidates of father, but not those running for local posts.

Clearly, if Sara really wants to spite her father, she will stop at nothing, even facing him head on for the vice-presidential race, instead of seeking the top post.

Even BBM sees this possibility. In an interview with television and radio host Anthony Taberna on Tapatan ni Tunying over YouTube, Marcos, while saying he is prepared to run for whatever position in the May 2022 presidential polls, including the presidency, he added he was open for a BBM-Sara or Sara-BBM tandem, when he was pressed to comment on the matter.

“I am running for something in May of 2022,” Marcos declared during the interview, although clarifying he has yet to decide on what position.

But if there are proposals for him to team-up with Sara, Marcos says he is open for talks on such an idea.

“We have to look at what is the best for everyone, that’s the idea behind all of these,” Marcos said.

“The basis would be what is good for the country, work for the betterment of the country and not for any political purposes,” he stressed.

A Duterte running mate for Marcos, whether the father or the daughter, would make him an instant frontrunner in 2022. By forging such partnership, Laviña says BBM will “gain a foothold in Visayas and Mindanao in addition to his strong bases in Luzon and the National Capital Region,” a belief shared by other political pundits.

Laviña then proffers another observation, which again is shared by political experts: Whoever wins in Metro Manila, wins.