In bizarre twists, Sara Duterte runs for VP and Bong Go upgrades for the presidential derby. President Rody files his COC for senator. General Parlade meanwhile has an even higher target: the Presidency.
FAST-PACED political maneuvers started the frenzy last Saturday afternoon, continued over the weekend and came to a head Monday, culminating with President Duterte's filing his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator via substitution, beating the deadline by a few minutes.
For a while there, media and the public awaiting developments at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) main office in Intramuros thought that the President would file for Vice President, leading to a head-to-head contest with his daughter.
Earlier, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who had sworn to high heavens that she will not seek a national position, conveniently filed her COC for vice president after withdrawing from the Davao city mayoral race and joining the Lakas-CMD party. Take a bow, columnist Mon Tulfo, you are vindicated.
Another development this weekend is Senator Bong Go's decision to upgrade his power trip, aiming for the presidency with Sen. Ronald dela Rosa giving way in another expected substitution play.
Such move by Go fueled rumors that Go will have President Duterte as his running-mate for Vice President, as it was disclosed to reporters by PCOO chief Martin Andanar that the President will go to the Comelec on Monday. It was not to be, and Andanar was "nakuryente" again.
Monday, Nov. 15, is the last day of substitution of candidates for the May, 2022 national elections. As of 5 p.m. on Monday, no Digong materialized at the Comelec. But Grepor Belgica, former presidential adviser on religious affairs, appeared to file Duterte's COC for senator under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS) party. This information was relayed to media by presidential aide Sen. Bong Go an hour before the deadline.
Duterte's late entry into the senatorial race further constricted the competition for votes. Latest surveys showed big names like Francis Escudero, Raffy Tulfo, Alan Peter Cayetano, Loren Legarda, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sherwin Gatchalian, Mark Villar, Jinggoy Estrada, Richard Gordon, and Jejomar Binay in the possible winning circle. With Duterte in this list, there is only one slot left to be filled! Or if two of those mentioned fail to make it, only 3 slots are available. Quite a contest.
Bong Go's thoughts on this development: "Kung ako lang ang tatanungin, ayaw ko din na VP ang i-file nya. Ayaw ko magkasakitan pa. Tama na ako na lang ang nasaktan. Mataas respeto ko kay Pangulo at sa kanyang pamilya. Sana Senador na i-file niya."
Only because we have an active social and traditional media that the latest Sara Duterte caper was guaranteed to spread like wildfire in the nation's political landscape. Almost everybody with some influence, and even ordinary citizens with access to the internet, have a comment or two on both Sara and Digong.
These developments revealed quite a few secrets: that the President and his daughter are not on speaking terms; that Bong Go and Inday Sara do have friction in their relationship, and that although blood is thicker than water, Digong will side with Bong Go any day.
While BBM-Sara diehards were ecstatic, those from the camp of the Yellow-Left were full of trepidation and condemnation.
One netizen speculates that Marcos will be DQ'd and Sara will take his place; Go with withdraw leaving Digong running for VP. From here on, "alam na." This scenario cannot play out because substitution is by political party, and BBM and Sara should belong to the same party for this to happen. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez also said there is no succession in the substitution system.
From the net: Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate calls on democratic, non-administration candidates to unite and thwart a 'dictatorannical' regime...
Teddy Casino: By aiding in the political restoration of the Marcoses, the Dutertes have unleashed a monster more power and cunning than them. Now they have been relegated to second fiddle, with Sara coopted and Digong desperately using Bong Go as a bargaining chip.
Renato Reyes Jr.: Pagkahaba-haba man ng dramahan, sa impyerno pa rin ang patutunguhan.
Meanwhile, presidential candidate Isko Moreno is unimpressed. Moreno said, "I don't care about what they want to do with their politics. We're not involved with the group, and we are not part of their politics."
VP candidate Sen. Kiko Pangilinan is also adamant: "...Presidency regardless of who we would go up against. So whoever else files, we will simply continue to focus on our campaign preparations."
From Barry Gutierrez, spokesman of VP Leni Robredo: "If we still needed a reminder of why the 2022 election is so crucial, we got one today. While we desperately need the pandemic under control, food and jobs for the poor, and our kids back in school, our current leadership plays games with the electoral system. Tama na. Sobra na."
Given all these bizarre turn of events, the excitement by media and the public can now subside, with President Duterte's final decision to run for senator. The Comelec has closed the door for any more substitutions, and the official ballot with names of official candidates may now be drafted for printing.
It is noteworthy that Sara's decision to run as VP with Bongbong was met with resounding applause when it was announced at the Comelec by her lawyer.
Pacquiao meets Digong
The meeting Tuesday in Malacañang between presidential aspirant Senator Manny Pacquiao and President Duterte, officially dubbed as “renewal of friendship” has elicited varied reactions.
It could be Pacquiao's last-ditch attempt to get Duterte’s assurance that he would unify the divided ruling party and endorse Pacquiao as a standard bearer.
The PDP-Laban currently has two factions—the Pacquiao wing with him as standard bearer and Lito Atienza as his vice president, and the wing of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.
The Comelec also must decide this week whether to grant the petition to cancel Bongbong’s COC and not give it due course because of a conviction in 1997 for non-filing of a tax return, which is different from tax evasion.
Already pressure is heavy for the poll body to review its law and jurisprudence on convicted candidates.
Either way it decides on Bongbong’s COC, conflict and disagreements will fill the air before elections in May.
Whatever Comelec decides, any of the parties (pro and against the COC) will surely take this case to the Supreme Court, the only panel that can overrule the Comelec on election matters. (With reports by Rose De La Cruz)