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Dutertes, Marcoses: Curtains rise on politics unprecedented in PH

By: - Content Researcher Writer / @inquirerdotnet
/ 08:06 PM November 15, 2021

FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—To describe political developments in the past few days as a strange week would be incomplete to characterize events that have never before happened in the Philippines.

The withdrawal of candidacies, the substitutions, the surprise bedfellows painted Philippine politics in the middle of the COVID pandemic in a way it has not been seen ever.

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Last Nov. 13, Sara Duterte, President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter, took an oath as member of Lakas-CMD, the political party still looking up to ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as its leader, shortly after withdrawing her certificate of candidacy for mayor of Davao City.

READ: Sara Duterte files COC for vice president under Lakas-CMD

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Sara had also earlier, through a handwritten note, resigned from the regional political party that she had formed and had been considered as a major player in national politics—Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP).

Then her next move came as a surprise, too, to her father if reports were to be believed. She agreed to run for vice president as running mate of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the late dictator’s son.

Whether it was betrayal of individuals and groups who had been consistently egging Sara to run for president was not clear. It was, for sure, a letdown.

People close to Sara said she aimed for the presidency.

A Lakas-CMD official said there’s still a way for Sara to function as president even if she gets elected as vice president—term-sharing.

Last Nov. 12, Quezon Gov. Danilo Suarez, a key Lakas-CMD official, said in an interview with Teleradyo online that Sara and Marcos Jr. could spend three years each as chief executive because they have high ratings.

Suarez, describing it as just his opinion, said this was the scenario if Lakas-CMD had difficulty deciding which candidate to throw in the presidential race. “I’m not saying that it is going to happen. I’m only saying that it is an option,” Suarez said.

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But Sara did what to those close to her, including her dad, was unthinkable.

Last Nov. 12, as the term-sharing germ floated, Marcos Jr. said no. So did Anthony Del Rosario, secretary general of HNP, speaking on behalf of Sara.

Without the term-sharing germ formalized, questions arise about what drove Sara, who has been leading in surveys of possible candidates for president, to slide down to vice president, where she is not rating high based on surveys.

Consolidating votes

Gerardo Eusebio, a political science professor of De La Salle University, told INQUIRER.net that Sara, who is 21 years younger than Marcos Jr., might have realized that seeking the presidency will not work for the two of them.

“Sara might have felt that Marcos Jr. has been very much leading the surveys, especially when she said she will no longer bid for the presidency last Oct. 8,” he said.

This was shared by Kurt Dizon, a political science professor of Saint Louis University, who told INQUIRER.net that the two could not risk dividing votes, saying that the move was meant to consolidate votes.

He explained that Marcos Jr., who lives in Ilocos Norte, needs the South votes to win. He said it’s possible that with Marcos Jr. having Sara as her vice president, “they already have the votes”.

“This was why Marcos Jr. eyed Sen. Manny Pacquiao as vice president because before Sara filed her COC, he was expected to be the one who would get the South votes when Sara decided not to seek the presidency,” he said.

READ: Bongbong Marcos camp eyeing Pacquiao, VisMin bets as VP options — Imee

Graphic by Ed Lustan

Results of Pulse Asia’s opinion poll last Sept. 6 to 11 showed Sara, with a 20 percent preference rating for president. She had 47 percent preference in Mindanao, 23 percent in the Visayas, 8 percent in Luzon outside of Metro Manila and 12 percent in Metro Manila.

Marcos Jr. was just second to Sara in presidential election preference with 15 percent overall rating. Marcos Jr. had 28 percent preference in Metro Manila, 20 percent in balance Luzon, 5 percent in the Visayas and 8 percent in Mindanao.

Graphic by Ed Lustan

Without Sara, Pacquiao, who had a 12 percent overall preference rating for the presidential race, would have the most votes in Visayas and Mindanao. He had a 15 percent preference rating in Mindanao, 21 percent in the Visayas, 9 percent in balance Luzon and 6 percent in Metro Manila.

Eusebio said, “When we talk about strategy, we talk about how votes are distributed. They have the ‘solid’ North where you get votes and Sara would handle the South.”

Last Aug. 26, Sen. Imee Marcos said a Marcos Jr. and Sara coalition would be a “marriage made in heaven,” saying that the Dutertes have the “solid” South while they expect to have the “solid” North.

In 2019, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said a total of 61,843,728 individuals registered to vote:

Graphic by Ed Lustan

  • Cordillera Administrative Region: 1,013,418
  • Ilocos Region: 3,331,394
  • Cagayan Valley: 2,194,418
  • Central Luzon: 6,829,661
  • National Capital Region: 7,074,603
  • Calabarzon: 8,674,351
  • Mimaropa: 1,831,328
  • Bicol Region: 3,647,711
  • Western Visayas: 4,808,839
  • Central Visayas: 4,946,354
  • Eastern Visayas: 3,051,649
  • Zamboanga Peninsula: 2,193,033
  • Northern Mindanao: 2,855,792
  • Davao Region: 3,026,393
  • Soccskargen: 2,431,265
  • Caraga: 1,760,562
  • Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao: 2,172,959

Last Nov. 10, the Comelec said about 62 million Filipinos are eligible to vote in the 2022 elections. However, this could still rise once the Comelec adds those who registered two weeks before the deadline last Oct. 30.

Graphic by Ed Lustan

Look back

While the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), Marcos Jr.’s newly-formed political party, already said it will endorse Sara as vice president, here’s a look at how this is coming together:

  • May 31, 2021

Imee confirmed that she and Marcos Jr. met with Sara in Davao City. She told ABS-CBN News, however, that it was only a social event and they did not discuss the 2022 elections.

  • Aug. 26, 2021

Imee said while her brother is considering the presidency, he is still open to the vice presidency, saying that if Marcos Jr. would decide not to run for president, a coalition with Sara would be a “marriage made in heaven”.

“I think the most obvious thing is if the Dutertes have the solid South, we’re assumed to have the solid North, it’s like a marriage made in heaven,” she told ANC, saying that “everything is possible”.

  • Oct. 2, 2021

Sara filed COC for reelection as Davao City mayor, saying to those hoping she’ll run for president that “I have been honored with the gift of trust and respect of many of our fellow Filipinos. Thank you to everyone who has expressed their support. Many of you do not know me and yet you carry me over your shoulders.”

  • Oct. 6, 2021

A day after he declared his intention to seek the presidency, Marcos Jr. filed his COC. He also explained why PFP has no vice president: “The reason why that is, that the original plan was for us to adopt PRRD.” PRRD refers to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

  • Oct. 8, 2021

Sara said she would push through with her bid to seek reelection in Davao City, hinting that if she won, she will no longer seek any higher post: “I am presenting myself to the Dabawenyos as mayor for the third and last time in my life as a politician.”

  • Oct. 23, 2021

In what was said as a “beautiful coincidence,” Sara and Marcos Jr. met each other at the birthday celebration of Tingog Sinirangan Rep. Yedda Romualdez in Cebu.

READ: ‘Beautiful coincidence’: Bongbong, Sara meet in Cebu

  • Oct. 24, 2021

Sara said she discussed how HNP in the Davao Region could help Marcos Jr.’s presidential bid. She also insisted she has no plans to seek the presidency in the 2022 elections.

  • Oct. 27, 2021

Imee told ABS-CBN News that it was Sara who convinced Marcos Jr. to seek the presidency. She also said his brother is still looking for a vice president with a strong base in Visayas and Mindanao.

READ: Sara Duterte pushed Bongbong Marcos to run for president when she opted out of the race — Imee

“[She] said ‘Bongbong, run. My brother asked ‘What position will I run for?’ She said ‘Go for the presidency, I will no longer run.’ So we were surprised, we’re really not ready but Mayor Sara said she’s not proceeding,” she said.

  • Nov. 9, 2021

Sara withdrew COC for reelection in Davao City, saying that her brother, Vice Mayor Baste Duterte, will replace her.

  • Nov. 10, 2021

As Sara withdrew her COC for mayor, PFP said Marcos Jr. will not slide down. “We are focused and emphasizing his run as the country’s next president because he’s the most qualified. His platform on nation building is very good,” PFP said.

PFP said it can have Sara for vice president: “If she really believes in our ranks we will openly welcome her. If ever, that will be a great team for the nation’s progress and peace.”

  • Nov. 11, 2021

Sara flew to Balesin Island for the birthday celebration of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco. While there were talks that she would meet Arroyo there, the office of the former President said there will be no meeting.

This day, she also resigned from HNP: “It is with profound sadness that I hereby tender my resignation from our beloved party. My support will always be with you and I will always be grateful for all the things you have taught me.”

Later, Sara and Marcos Jr. attended the wedding of Revilla’s daughter where Sara took oath as Lakas-CMD member.

  • Nov. 12, 2021

Sara filed COC for vice president, substituting for a previously unheard of aspirant, Lyle Uy, in the Lakas-CMD ticket. Later, PFP said it will adopt Sara as candidate for vice president of Marcos Jr.

READ: PFP adopts Sara Duterte as Bongbong Marcos’ runningmate

‘Not sharing presidency’

Dr. Francisco Magno, former head of the Political Science Department of De La Salle University, said Sara could have decided to slide down as vice presidential aspirant because she didn’t want to fight a political ally, Marcos Jr.

“Since this is Sara’s first time to seek a national post, she decided that it would be better for her to serve as vice president, and prepare well before gunning for the presidency in 2028,” Magno told INQUIRER.net.

Last Nov. 12 Lakas-CMD president Martin Romualdez said he was hoping for an alliance between Marcos Jr. and Sara, saying that the two were in talks for the possibility of working together.

READ: Sara Duterte, Bongbong Marcos talking about ‘working together’ in 2022

This, however, followed Suarez’s opinion that the two may share the presidency, which is not possible between one who was elected as president and one who was elected as vice president.

“Such contract may be void for being contrary to public policy. They are elected to two distinct positions,” said election law Prof. Alberto Agra. “However, the President can entrust the Vice President with executive powers.”

RELATED STORY: Proposed Bongbong Marcos, Sara Duterte term-sharing will be a ‘mess’ – lawyer

Magno said the agreement “may not necessarily be one of term sharing but of being able to get a choice Cabinet position and a share of Cabinet positions, as well as leadership positions in Congress for her party mates in Lakas-CMD.”

Dr. Temario Rivera, a former political science professor of the University of the Philippines Diliman, however, said it was “intriguing” why Lakas-CMD was silent about Marcos Jr.

“It has been a one-way process of ‘adoption’ so far,” he told INQUIRER.net, referring to PFP’s Nov. 13 resolution “adopting” Sara as Marcos Jr.’s running mate.

Tough fight with Sotto

Magno said Sara will face a “tough contest” against Senate President Vicente Sotto III, saying that he’s leading the opinion poll and even “relegated” the President who had fed talk he was running for vice president against his own daughter.

For Eusebio, the “strongest” vice presidential aspirant is Sotto. “He has been leading the elections in the 1990s. Remember, he is the Senate President and also of Eat Bulaga. Its power is strong,” he said.

A Pulse Asia opinion poll on vice presidential preference last Sept. 6 to 11, showed Sotto has the lead with 25 percent. Duterte has 14 percent, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno has 12 percent, Marcos Jr. has 12 percent while Pacquiao has 7 percent.

Graphic by Ed Lustan

“Nobody really hates Sotto. Everybody likes him. He’s a comedian and he matured into a Senate President. This kind is formidable. He has slight strength,” said Eusebio.

Sotto, who was Senate President since 2018 and a lawmaker since the 9th Congress, is running for vice president with Sen. Panfilo Lacson as president under the party Partido Reporma.

Bong Go presence

While it was said that Sara decided to slide down to prevent pro-Duterte and pro-Marcos votes from getting divided, the political science professors asked why Sen. Bong Go, the President’s confidante who had filed a COC for vice president, filed a COC for president by substitution.

“I don’t know where Go is coming from. So it remains a sort of mystery to me why Go would seek the presidency,” said Eusebio, referring to the senator’s filing last Nov. 13.

For Dizon, Go’s move would be a disadvantage to Marcos Jr. and Sara. “They can already possibly have the votes then he filed a COC for the presidency,” he said.

“It would present [the idea] that there might be divisions, this was not planned greatly. Our perception is that their decisions are conflicting so it would sway the votes against Marcos Jr. and Sara, especially because Go has the advantage since he is with the government,” he said.

Eusebio, however, said, “It’s some sort of two individuals seeking two different positions but they aren’t partnered together.”

“Vote wise, a vote for the presidential aspirant is not a vote for the vice presidential aspirant, and a vote for the vice presidential aspirant is not a vote for the presidential aspirant,” Eusebio said.

“So, probably, Go was thinking along that line so that he would not bid against Sara. The problem now is if the President will also seek the vice presidency. That’s the twilight zone,” he said. As of 5 p.m. on Nov. 15, Duterte was reported to have backed out of a statement to run for vice president.

READ: ‘BBM-Sara’ taking shape; Rodrigo Duterte wants to be VP too

Last Nov. 13, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said the President will be back at the Comelec office on Nov. 15 to file a COC for vice president.

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TAGS: Bong Go, Bongbong Marcos, Certificate of Candidacy, coalition, Commission on Elections, Elections, INQFocus, Lakas-CMD, Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, President, Sara Duterte, Vice President
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