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The Manila Times : History points to a watershed election and an affirmative vote for the future

News & Interviews
4 November 2021

By Yen Makabenta | The Manila Times

First word

SIX months from Election Day on May 9, 2022, I think the signs in our public life today and even in the heavens cautiously point to a watershed election in Philippine history and an affirmative vote by our people for the future.

No matter what stratagems the opposition, the Liberals and the Yellows invent now to derail the balloting and thwart the popular vote, the nation appears set on a course of dramatic change that will be ratified in May, install a new national leader in the person of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. (BBM), and open a period of national rejuvenation and renewal, following a prolonged ordeal from the pandemic and intense political division.

Coalition across the archipelago

If the rumored team up of Bongbong Marcos and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio is confirmed and formally announced on November 15, it will produce a groundswell of voter excitement and enthusiasm across the archipelago that will translate into a tidal wave by election day.

If, as I have predicted in this column, the motley presidential candidates will start looking at themselves in the mirror and really assess their prospects in the election, various candidacies will predictably fold. Bato dela Rosa spends his time now talking about Pacquiao's IQ and President Duterte's wanting to run for senator.

Many candidates, including those vying for a place in the Senate and other lower-level positions, are starting to align themselves with the BBM-Sara ticket, hoping to get a place in the ticket and thereby get help to get elected.

Political turncoatism will begin early in this election cycle because the BBM-Sara team is so formidable.

If Bongbong and Sara are reading the political stakes correctly, they will strive to forge a truly national coalition for reform and economic recovery that will seek a decisive majority of seats in both houses of Congress and in the local governments. From this coalition, they will have an alliance that will enable them to govern effectively. If they are wise, they will turn this into a real political party.

Nobody will dare talk of term-sharing in the Congress this time.

Petition to disqualify BBM

The opposition, the Liberals and the yellows are not about to throw in the towel. Hope springs eternal that they can still come up with a magic formula to turn the election around. They hope for a mirage like EDSA to materialize.

Now, with former justice Antonio Carpio as its chief strategist and thinker, they have come up with a scheme to get Bongbong Marcos disqualified from running in the 2022 election.

They have caused the filing of a petition with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to cancel the certificate of candidacy (CoC) of Bongbong Marcos.

The petitioners, composed of political detainees and human rights and medical organizations that opposed the Marcos dictatorship, claim that Marcos Jr. is not eligible to run for any public office since the Quezon City Regional Trial Court convicted him in 1995 for his failure to file income tax returns.

In a statement shared by their lawyer Theodore Te, the petitioners said that Marcos' CoC "contains multiple false material representations."

"Specifically, Marcos falsified his certificate of candidacy when he claimed that he was eligible to be a candidate for president of the Philippines in the 2022 national elections when in fact he is disqualified from doing so," they said.

"Marcos is not eligible to run for any public office as he is, plainly, a convicted criminal. Marcos was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City in a July 27, 1995 decision for his multiple failures to file income tax returns," the petitioners added.

They noted that the Court of Appeals upheld Marcos' conviction and no longer appealed to the Supreme Court, thereby becoming a final and unappealable conviction.

The biggest problem with this is that the Supreme Court has already ruled on the issue. BBM is perfectly eligible to run for public office. He ran for vice president in 2016 and nearly won, and he also ran and won as a candidate for senator in an earlier election.

Vice President Leni Robredo's real misfortune as a political leader is that she is never allowed to make decisions herself in her campaign. She is always surrounded by the addled thinking of her advisers and her lawyers.

Watershed election

According to William Safire, in his Political Dictionary (1968), "a watershed election is a campaign that decides the course of politics for decades, one that is especially memorable, or that proves to be a dividing line between historical periods."

The Nixon-Kennedy campaign of 1960 is one of the most cited as watershed.

Likewise, Abraham Lincoln's election as president in 1860 is memorialized as a watershed. The Republicans, it is said, came of age in1860. Lincoln won in a highly fractured four-way contest, even though he received only 39.8 percent of the vote, and got no support at all in the south,

Watershed is fitting for our 2022 election because, I believe, it is fated to make history.

First, this election will mark the end of so many political careers, whether they ran for office or not.

It will herald the end of the Rodrigo Duterte presidency.

It will mark the end also of the political careers of Senators Panfilo Lacson and Vicente Sotto 3rd, who can only avert their fate if they win in the May election.

Other senatorial careers are also ripe for termination. Sen. Richard Gordon is now serving his final term in office. Senators Risa Hontiveros, Leila de Lima, Sherwin Gatchalian and others can run for reelection, but they have to win election again to the Senate.

The most decisive change, of course, is the probable election of Bongbong Marcos as the 17th president of the Philippines. This will be happening after 35 years since the1986 EDSA people power revolt that ousted President Ferdinand Marcos from power and sent the entire Marcos family into exile in Hawaii.

This will be an event that is not unlike the restoration of thrones and royal lines in Europe in the 20th century.

It will be a political comeback for an entire family that has been demonized, insulted, persecuted and prosecuted, and harassed by countless Philippine administrations, and victimized by the relentless rewriting of Philippine history.

But first, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. must win in the watershed election on May 9, 2022. And what he does thereafter will be entirely a measure of his vision and his leadership.