Manila Standard : Why Bongbong shuns debates

15 February 2022

By Emil Jurado | Manila Standard

“He’s way ahead of his opponents, anyway.”

Here I am, still pounding my old Olympia manual after almost a month’s absence. My wife and I were down with a moderate case of COVID-19 and had to be treated at a hospital, Santa Banana!

Just how we got infected remains a mystery since my wife and I never go out of the house and never see outsiders. But I know, after reading a lot about the COVID-19 pandemic, that the virus is everywhere and you can get infected by asymptomatic people.

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Here we are with all aspirants from the president, vice president and senators having 90 days of campaigning until May 9, 2022, Election Day.

Nothing much is significant with aspirants having had their proclamation rallies in their respective bailiwicks. All except Bongbong Marcos and teammate Sara Duterte-Carpio – they had their proclamation rally at the Iglesia ni Cristo’s Philippine Arena in Bulacan. How else can any of the aspirants except BBM get that advantage?

Given that the rallies are happening with COVID-19 still around, the DOH is worried because it could trigger another surge of COVID-19 cases.

In any case, the non-attendance of Bongbong in political debates and other political forums, in my personal opinion, is a smart thing for him. Bongbong is already the frontrunner in all surveys. Any other aspirant that engages him will just have additional exposure for political advantage.

If it would be a one-on-one fight between Bongbong and an oppositionist, the presence of Bongbong in political debates could work. But an aspirant like BBM is now beyond gravity, as a columnist described the race to Malacanang. The rest of the aspirants are all trailing behind.

But what if the rallies trigger another surge of COVID-19 cases on May 9, 2022. Will this mean elections have to be postponed?

Will there be no elections if this happens?

In fact, even the Senate has come out with a scenario that in case there will be no election as scheduled, the Senate, which will still have its 12 members as holdovers until 2025, has adopted urgency measures for this eventually. It decided to elect a holdover Senate President in case the May 9, 2022 polls does not happen. With these holdovers, 12 senators will choose their Senate president.

Personally, I don’t think it will be a “No El” scenario. That would be very dangerous considering the fact that Filipinos could have a chance for a new president and vice-president. The worst thing that can happen in case there is a “No El”is that there could be civil unrest to force an incumbent President to declare Martial Law to restore peace and order.

In any case, the less talk of a “No El,” the better. To my mind, the worst thing that could happen is to postpone the elections, especially the counting and canvassing of votes. Note that in many places, ballots have to be transported from precincts. Canvassing is another problem. Let us hope and pray that the May 9 elections will be honest, clean and peaceful.

The Comelec should assure the people that the elections will proceed as scheduled. It will be a victory on the part of the enemies of the state and democracy if “No El” prevails on May 9!

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There has been a study that no less than 78 political dynasties exist nationwide – even though the 1987 Constitution bans political dynasties. Along this line, there have been attempts to amend the Charter and to do away with political dynasties. But let me ask first – are political dynasties good or bad in a democracy?

Personally, I believe that political dynasties are not evil per se. They serve some purpose. It all depends on what kind of political dynasties they are. In my experience as a journalist, I know of some political dynasties, where the members of the family is a President and sons are also elected time and again, one is a senator whose wife is also a senator. Another member of the family was also elected and the daughter-in-law is an undersecretary of a department. Time and again, my gulay, this family is in control of a city’s or province’s political future, and time and again the people elect them.

I also know for a fact that there are political dynasties that continue getting elected because they rule a province or a city with a mailed fist. There was also a political dynasty in Mindanao that was like the mafia that controlled illegal drugs and killed people who opposed them. It was fortunate that the Chief of Police was able to break up this political dynasty by having the family killed and some of its members jailed.

This is what I mean by it depends on what kind of political dynasty rules that area.

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A hard look at the lineup of senatoriables will show that name recall plays a big part in the election of the so-called “Magic 12 of winning senatoriables.

As I see it, the “Magic 12” winnables are incumbents, comebacking senators topping the list. The new aspirants like former DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, former Vice President Jojo Binay and former Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro are said to be winnables.

Among the incumbents are Senators Migz Zubiri, Win Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva and Dick Gordon and among returning senators are Chiz Escudero, Loren Legarda, Jinggoy Estrada, Alan Peter Cayetano and with the last four placers are also said to have a “statistical” chance of making it.

Personally my wishlist for the Magic 12 are the following:

Former VP Jojo Binay, former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, former Public Works Secretary Mark Villar, former Defense Secretary Gibo Teodoro, Migz Zubiri, Chiz Escudero, Loren Legarda, Jinggoy Estrada, Dick Gordon, Win Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva and Risa Hontiveros.