Oct 8, 2021, Vergel O. Santos
‘The overarching issue is Duterte himself. He is repression, he is militarization, he is terrorism. He is EJK. He is corruption. He is China. He is the pandemic.’
Until Leni Robredo declared herself in the running for the presidency, there had been no genuine opposition to Duterte; there had only been pretenders, who, for all their roaring avowals for change, could not even bring themselves to acknowledge that Duterte is the precise immediate cause of the desperate need for the change they’re roaring for.
They keep tiptoeing around him, skipping the prerequisite cleanup to any change, because cleanup implies a mess, and the monstrous mess that is material here is Duterte’s mess. But of course, for them to acknowledge this is to commit themselves to sweeping Duterte away and dumping him, making him pay, as only he deserves, which apparently none of them is prepared to do as his successor.
The reason is not hard to guess: they have all gone along with him, thus making themselves complicit in his mess-making, by voting for or otherwise supporting his Draconian measures. They have done much more to enable him, but the following should speak enough.
Ping Lacson sponsored a law that cannot even define the crime it punishes — terrorism — but allows enough pretexts for furthering Duterte’s authoritarian designs. That should surprise no one: Lacson’s name is inevitably mentioned with that of the abominable Rolando Abadilla’s in the context of torture under Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law.
For his part, Manny Pacquiao, with special help also from Lacson, took up for Duterte the lapdog duty of chasing human rights campaigner and fellow senator Leila de Lima out of the justice committee she chaired preparatory for her being framed and detained on drug charges.
Isko Moreno, a Duterte undersecretary for social welfare and development before becoming mayor of Manila, now makes the particular promise, as a presidential candidate, to continue supporting the implausible case against De Lima. In the same obsequious vein, he says he finds other things admirable and worth pursuing about Duterte’s presidency, but could cite only one — his “Build! Build! Build!” program. As it happens, most if not nearly all that got built under that infrastructure program had been laid out and funded and in some cases actually begun under the preceding presidency of Noynoy Aquino.
To Bongbong Marcos, Duterte’s ties go even stronger, and further: Bongbong’s dictator dad is Duterte’s professed idol, and Bongbong himself was his expressly preferred vice-president, not his own official running mate, the now reticent, apparently belatedly humiliated, Alan Cayetano, when they all ran in 2016. The Marcoses and the Dutertes appear to continue to plot together, raising suspicions of a Bongbong Marcos run with a Duterte for vice president. That would be Rodrigo himself or his daughter Sara, whose theatrical coyness and distancing from her father are only too obviously calculated to fool the electorate that she is a different Duterte — her own father calls her “drama queen.”
The whole affair, indeed, gives off a conspiratorial stink, which lately has grown strong with leaks that Senator Imee Marcos, Bongbong’s sister, is eyeing the Senate presidency and former President Gloria Arroyo the House speakership — in fact, she was once speaker under the Duterte regime — in what they hope to be a succeeding administration that will perpetuate his regime by surrogacy. These leaks reflect a confidence doubtless developed from a relationship with Duterte that has been so special it has set themselves up for this comeback moment.
Arroyo herself brought to the relationship two particular strengths, which may have made her indispensable to Duterte: one, she is the original connection to the Chinese patronage Duterte has been enjoying, treasonously; and, two, he owes her for the Supreme Court that she managed to stack in her unusually long presidency (three years as successor to the impeached Erap Estrada and, after that, six years of an elective term of her own) and that Duterte has subsequently co-opted, allowing him to dispense or deny judicial favors as he pleases.
Given their little-concealed pretensions to opposition to Duterte, the question may yet persist why Robredo had to reach out to the presidential aspirants from the ruling coalition. Naive — as some have said, out of disappointment or anger — she definitely is not. Strategic in her own unpredictable way is how I would be inclined to imagine it. She gave all those pretenders a chance to come around decisively and openly to the righteous cause, but they chose to remain conveniently blind to the real issue, and, with that, the line is decidedly drawn for the vote in May.
The overarching issue is Duterte himself. He is repression, he is militarization, he is terrorism. He is EJK (extrajudicial killings). He is corruption. He is China. He is the pandemic — by his incompetent, uncaring, self-aggrandizing response to it, he has made life more miserable all around than the coronavirus can do by itself.
And Leni Robredo is the exact opposite of all that; all her fellow aspirants to presidential succession are fakes. If you don’t see that, you must be conveniently numb or dumb; either way, you are only contributing to national extinction. – Rappler.com