Wed. Apr 14th, 2021
Is the world boxing champion in your bowl of soup?

Senator Manny Pacquiao has been going around recently in what he asserts as a way to help those in need. There is nothing wrong with that. Manny, the legendary boxing hero is known to be generous to his friends.

His sudden and recent act of charity, however, is tainted with politics. He has been named acting president of PDP-LABAN and is making the rounds of the country which fuels speculations he is vying to run for President in 2022.

Boxing is one thing, running a country is another. I think the Pacman has enough gray matters between his ears that could trigger him to think that the Presidency is not his cup of tea. He thinks that governing a country is nothing different from running a barangay.

It’s like thinking if he wins eight different boxing titles why can’t he win as President. In real life, Manny won several local government elective posts including his incumbency as Senator. He forgot, moreover, that those posts are so small to return a debt of local and national gratitude for bringing honors to the country as a victorious pugilist.

But the Presidency? My mother-in-law would tell him: “Ano ka hilo (Are you dizzy)?”

Does he want more than being President of PDP-Laban which has yet to be confirmed by the ruling party in a Convention? Did not somebody advise him that being President of the party does not mean he is going to be the standard-bearer of the party too?

Aside from the Korean noodle cups as his way of demonstrating his affection for the poor, several billboards endorsing him as President have sprouted overnight.

And then quietly, too , Pacquiao unceremoniously replaced Manny Lumanao the Regional Chairman of PDP-Laban in Caraga with Johnny Pimentel. Does Manny Pacquiao have the authority to do so? My gosh, he is like a bull rampaging in a china shop!

What is the boxing icon up to? Was there something in his subconscious that suddenly perked him up to think that “pang-PresIdente na siya?” Recall that some time ago in November 2016, fresh from his successful bid to regain the welterweight belt, he proceeded to Malacanang to pay a courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte. The moment they came face-to-face, Duterte raised his hands and to humor, the Pacman said, “Pang presidente na ito ah”.

I admire Manny Pacquiao, his life story, his virtues. Like all Filipinos, we all put him on a pedestal of fame as the greatest Filipino icon in the world of boxing.

The Presidency? It’s entirely another story. Beware of the elixir that may come with your quest for a higher post.

As in the tales of yore, it might come from the wily enemy.

Why fault Inday Sara?

The 2022 elections are fast approaching but unlike in previous years, the mood is damp and lacks the usual hoopla and excitement that characterized the presidential election in the past. I do not think that the pandemic has anything to do with it at all. Within the year, the country will be swamped with all kinds of vaccines and if things won’t go wrong the country shall have achieved the universal target of 75% herd immunity.  

Let’s take it from the US experience. The Covid-19 infections were at an alarming rate but the Americans were throwing away precautions as the campaign for President was in full swing. We Pinoys are no different, in fact, an election derby is a much-awaited event it could pass as a favorite pastime. 

While no politicians in the running ever believed they will lose (unless cheated) the usual election fever has not started to simmer.  Is it because the Pulse Asia survey showed that Davao City Mayor is a runaway winner? Or no one is interested to take on the job of the President in the midst of the pandemic? 

Remember the last time Pulse Asia made a survey to ascertain whether Duterte still has the people’s trust and approval with all the tirades coming from the opposition? He got a 91% rating, something which leaders all over the globe devoutly wish.

Since I am from Davao in the deep down south, I texted Senator Imee Marcos from the northernmost and asked what she thinks of the rating the man from the boondocks (to borrow the word of Jim Paredes in describing Duterte). Her crisp repartee: “91% approval exempts PRRD from the usual lame-duck last years. He will determine 2022.”

Could this public perception of Duterte be the reason why we do not feel the election fever yet? Let’s look at the latest survey of Pulse Asia on who will likely be the people’s choice to replace Duterte. Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte is on the apogee. Her score is almost twice as much as the first runner up. VP Leni Robredo,  the declared presidential bet of the Liberal Party was No. 6 in the list of 11. 

And yet now and again the President disapproves of Inday Sara vying for the presidency. “Maawa ako sa anak ko. The presidency is not a job for a woman’, he was often quoted.

Even former House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, the one who was jettisoned from his post after picking up a fight with the President’s daughter, started with what he termed as “voters education rally”. One of the criteria for a presidentiable he lectured, is, in his own lingo: “Dapat may bayag”.  

The next day he lost a number of his political allies. 

But look at Davao City Mayor Inday Sara up close. She is in the middle of the battle against coronavirus which is her top health priority. The city is the center of commerce and industry in Mindanao and the busiest port for southern entry and exit. 

She has just launched a bus system for Davao City which involves the fielding of not less than 1,000 units of fully air-conditioned passenger buses.   This will be the first of its kind in the country. These will replace the jeepneys. She is neither hobbled by the pandemic nor the critics. 

What other Davao City mayors, including her father, have not done in the past she is doing the way she wanted to.

Two years ago she gently asked the power and telecom firms to lay down their cables underground. She wants those ugly cable cobwebs out of the city major thoroughfares. This resulted in terrible inconvenience but her constituents understand what it takes to achieve development targets.

The Davao City Water District too is about to accomplish a ₱12.5-billion bulk water project that will deliver 300-million liters of potable water daily to the city’s growing population. This resource is in addition to the present volume of water that comes from the city aquifers. The alternate source will allow the aquifers to be recharged.  There are diggings all over the city on account of all these development projects not to mention the widening of farm-to-market roads but Dabawenyos endure knowing the benefits of these all.

So, how can those who know Inday Sara not want her to succeed her father? Under her term, the economic growth of Davao City was at 9% (pre-pandemic figure). The revenues of the city allowed her to construct concrete roads that connect the hinterland barangays to the main arteries thereby reducing the cost of transport of farmers produce and increasing their incomes. 

It was not her fault that she emerged to be the top contender in the survey.  She was not even aware that a survey was being undertaken. Of course, she ought to express her gratitude for those who backed her.  It is part of her virtues. But critics, including a fact-checker, thinks she hankers for the Presidency.  

Well, it pays to have a father who is President of the country for now this coastal city, three times bigger than Metro Manila and six times bigger than Metro Cebu will finally have a coastal boulevard and a train system that will be shared with several towns and cities of Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur.  

The Alpha in the family, as her father cautioned former House Speaker Alvarez, Mayor Inday is known to many political pundits in Davao as an “iron lady”.  Come to think of it, she toppled two* Speakers in the Lower House: Bebot Alvarez, who made the mistake of suspecting her to be opposition for having organized the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago, a regional party which actually supports the President’s programs, and the late Speaker Prospero “Boy” Nograles whom she trounced in the mayoral elections in 2010. 

Inday Sara Duterte for President? Why not? The lady is busy and had repeatedly declined the prospects which others are drooling for.  But why find fault in Inday Sara if people want her to run for President.

Editor: *Actually, Sara Duterte has slain three speakers, the last of which is Allan Cayetano.

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