Manila Standard : The call has been sounded

7 August 2021

By Charlie V. Manalo | Manila Standard

"Throngs of supporters will heed Marcosí call."

2022 has just gotten more exciting.

Last Thursday, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso resigned as vice chairman and member of the Enrique Razon backed-National Unity Party, eliciting reactions from political pundits who thinks Domagoso could have forfeited large chunks of campaign fund from the businessman, possibly affecting his chances in a potential presidential run.

Whether it affects his war chest or not, Domagoso’s resignation from the NUP fortifies beliefs that he is indeed throwing his hat into the ring that is next year’s presidential election. His action is widely believed to be a reaction to rumors his party is negotiating with another probable candidate – Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte.

A day before Domagoso’s resignation, the presidential daughter was said to have again hinted she would be running for president when she declared she would go for a total Cabinet revamp should she win, sparing no one among her father’s appointees.

A couple of hours after the Manila mayor’s announcement, PDP-Laban president, Energy Secretary Al Cusi announced they have nominated Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and President Rodrigo Duterte as their party’s official bets for 2022. Go even issued a statement reiterating his position that he will only seek the presidency if the elder Duterte would agree to be his running mate.

Interestingly, all those aforementioned moves were effected just days after former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. said he would only seek the presidency if he could muster enough support to carry him to victory.

It was Bongbong sounding off a clarion call to Marcos supporters, some 15 million strong, to come out and openly express their support in order for him to engage in his biggest political battle. He was giving the Marcos supporters the honor of deciding his possible presidential run. It would be their collective voices reverberating throughout the country – from the selection of the candidate to putting their chosen one to the halls of power.

Domagoso and Go had to make their moves fast. They have been beaten to the draw by Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Vicente “Tito” Sotto who have already declared their intentions for next year’s polls.

And even as the younger Duterte and Marcos have to make known their preference for 2022, they already are enjoying a groundswell of support.

Late last month, an alliance of strong political leaders from the so-called Solid North ed by League of Municipalities President and Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Chavit Singson and Isabela Gov. Rodito Albano, along with dozens of congressmen and elected local government officials, pledged united support for Marcos as they urged him to run for president in next year’s elections.

Sara, on the other hand, had been eliciting support from the country’s major political parties including Lakas-NUCD, the Nacionalista Party, and Isko’s former party, the NUP.

And both Bongbong and Sara are considered frontrunners even as this early even if they have yet to make any declaration if they are running and for what position.

With the least political mass base among all probable candidates as he has yet to run for any national electoral position, Isko has to seek refuge from another political party – the resurrected Aksyon Demokratiko. However, this could bolster suspicions he is a Yellow politician with leanings to the Left as AD is composed of Yellow personalities with the likes of former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay and other leaders who are being backed by the Left.

With the opposition now in disarray, Domagoso could suffer the same fate as that of the Otso Diretso candidates as they employ the same groups of supporters.

Domagoso and the other aspiring candidates should also take into consideration that the elder Duterte won not because of his popularity -- he was not that popular back in 2016—but because of the people’s frustration over and growing hatred of the Yellows. And the Marcos camp played a major role in delivering votes for the then-Davao City mayor.

And that could spell some disadvantage for Domagoso. Thus, he needs to play his cards right.

In yesterday’s press briefing hosted by the National Press Club, Marcos reiterated he still has his options in 2022 open. Meaning he could step down as a vice presidential candidate, or push for the top post, which could open the possibility of a possible team-up between him and Inday Sara. And as I have stated in my previous column, once these two agree to slug it out together next year, tapos na ang boksing.

But then, Bongbong has already sounded his call. And not only do I believe his throngs of supporters will heed the call, but that they will also insist that he should not settle for anything less than the presidency.