The Manila Times : Leni who?

17 November 2021

By Rigoberto Tiglao | The Manila Times

ANTI-Duterte writers on Tuesday became delirious over what one called the roller-coaster plot, referring to the announcements of presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio to run for the vice presidency with presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., of Sen. Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go's bid to vie for the presidency and, surprise of surprises, of President Duterte to seek a senatorial position.

And then you even have the Red nemesis, the just-retired general Antonio Parlade, announcing he's running for president.

An American writer in this paper pontificated that our politics the past days was a "weekend in Bizarro World" — a fine example of the bad use of obscure cultural references: only a dozen Filipinos remember that 1960s comic strip about a negative version of the ordinary world. I wonder how he would call the 2020 US presidential elections in which leaders of both parties hurled gutter-level accusations against each other as if the other were a sworn enemy (e.g., Trump's barb against Vietnam-war veteran and Republican pillar John McCain that he's not really a hero, as he got himself captured by the Vietcong).

Sen. Panfilo Lacson — yep, I confirm, he's a presidential candidate — called the substitution episode showcases the "convoluted narrative of the state of politics in the country." He realizes that only now after four decades in government? Kontra Daya, headed by the leftist Danilo Arao, quite inanely demanded that substitution candidates — i.e., Duterte, his daughter Sara and his closest confidante, Senator Go — be declared nuisance candidates.

Even not a few Duterte supporters were ruffled at the recent episode, with one telling me it sends a bad signal to voters of a "divided house."

SWS poll commissioned by del Rosario’s propaganda venue

SWS poll commissioned by del Rosario’s propaganda venue

Me? I've learned one thing in my years of covering elections: what we analysts conclude more often than not is what the masses of the people think. Well, while this may be another "analysis" of course, but what we may be missing, which is actually what I tried to convey by breaking the rules of column writing (i.e., write in the first two or three paragraphs what you want is say) is the following.

The opposition running against the ruling bloc's candidates have become irrelevant. Seven months to the May 2022 elections, Leni Robredo as well as other candidates whose names I forget are slipping into obscurity.

The half-Iranian writer I enjoy reading because of his hilarious penchant for famous quotations to impress his readers said it all, unwittingly, when he referred to the episode as the Duterte administration's "Squid Game," referring to that South Korean TV series that was Netflix's most watched program with over 200 million viewers from 94 countries. The Duterte camp totally dominated media in the past few days.

In the breakfast clubs or the barbershop talk of olden days, all the talk — and speculations – would have involved around such questions as the following: Why would Bong Go run against Bongbong? Will Duterte be the topnotcher in the Senate race? What role would be given to Sara to prepare her for 2028?

Then one participant would ask, I wonder how Leni is taking all this? A wit would quickly remark, "Leni who?" and they'd all be guffawing in delight. The "Pharmally" issue, which the opposition thought would be the big "bomba" against the Duterte administration, and therefore against his candidate for the presidency, has turned out to be a fart.

That US pawn against Duterte, the Fil-Am fraud Maria Ressa, proved to be a dud, with even well-educated Filipinos concluding that the homegrown "Ambassador Gusi Peace Prize" has more integrity than the Nobel Peace Prize. However, Ressa is laughing all the way to the bank with her share of the $1 million Nobel cash prize. The US strategists seem to have forgotten: How can she rally Filipinos to vote for Robredo when she can't even speak a straight Filipino sentence? I for one have never heard her talk in Filipino.

Del Rosario, the bungler

If I were Leni Robredo, I'd beg First Pacific honcho Manuel Pangilinan, or even Anthoni Salim, that conglomerate's real owner, to ask President Aquino 3rd's foreign affairs secretary, Albert del Rosario, to go into exile until after the 2022 elections, and to shut his mouth.

After all, del Rosario, together with the late President Aquino 3rd, committed one of, if not the biggest boo-boo in our modern history: losing Scarborough Shoal to China in June 2012 when they believed US assistant state secretary Kurt Campbell's fabrication that the Chinese had agreed to a simultaneous withdrawal from the lagoon.*

There wasn't such an agreement, only mere informal talks with a single Chinese official in a Virginia hotel lobby. Because of their gullibility, either del Rosario or Aquino (each blames the other) ordered the two of our remaining vessels out of the contested area — effectively giving up what we claim has been our territory for centuries. Campbell fooled them in order to defuse the stand-off which could have led to a shooting war, dragging the US into it — which would have complicated Barack Obama's re-election bid that year. Obama won, we lost territory.

With del Rosario rooting for Leni, the Duterte forces need not bother themselves with her candidacy, as he is unwittingly sabotaging her campaign.

Last week del Rosario undertook a fund-raising campaign for her which involved asking contributors to pay P25,000 for a dinner that had "Pink Salmon" as it entrée. My column on it last Monday became viral, with many ridiculing it and pointing out — correctly — that it only underscores that Leni enjoys only the support of a small section of the elite.

A bigger boo-boo: Stratbase-ADR Institute, which del Rosario bankrolls and runs as his anti-China propaganda venue disguised as a "think tank," commissioned the Social Weather Stations to run a survey on voters' preference in the 2022 elections.

A disaster for the Pinklawans: Undertaken October 20 to 23, it showed Marcos leading by a landslide, with 47 percent of voters choosing him, nearly three times the number picking Robredo, or 18 percent of respondents. That's even smaller than the 24 percent Robredo got in a Facebook-based poll Rappler undertook October 7 to 9 — and quickly took down. How could it be much worse, Leni's supporter commissioning a poll which forecast that she would lose terribly, with Isko Moreno just five percentage points from her?

When several news outlets asked Stratbase about it, its president Dindo Manhit confirmed that they commissioned the poll. Del Rosario or Manhit obviously were so naïve as to think they could keep it confidential, asking the SWS to warn that the poll results were "not authorized for quotation, publication, broadcast or sharing without the express written consent of SWS." I suspect a Stratbase employee, maybe even Manhit, leaked it.

I'm keenly waiting for the next big boo-boo of this Pinklawan agent.

*This is discussed in detail, with evidence and testimony, in my book to be released next month entitled, Debacle: The Aquino regime's Scarborough fiasco and the South China Sea arbitration deception.