By Charlie Manalo
Philippine Star columnist Dick Pascual, in his column, recently floated the idea of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. teaming up with a Duterte—either President Rodrigo Duterte or his daughter, Sara —for the 2022 elections.
Without giving a detailed explanation, Pascual averred that if ever the two families link up, “it would be so overwhelming that only divine intervention could prevent its sweeping the 2022 national positions down to the senatorial level.”
Actually, I have been discussing this scenario in some political circles as early as last year when rumors of a possible Marcos-Duterte team up began circulating. I have stated then, and I am maintaining this, even in the midst of these political surveys showing Marcos placing a distant second to Inday Sara, that should the two decide to run as a team, they will be unbeatable. Either of the two can head the ticket.
My reason is simple: I think the vilification campaign against the Marcos family has already lost steam and in fact, slowly reversing itself.
For the longest time, the Marcoses have shied away from national electoral positions having been traumatized by the events of 1986. And no other family, not even the Arroyos, have been as vilified as much as this family. Even school textbooks have to be rewritten to portray not only their patriarch, the late Ferdinand Sr. but the whole family as well, as the worst family to have occupied Malacañang Palace. After returning from “exile,” they have to content themselves with locally elected positions as they believed then they could only count on their kababayans to support them.
But all these changed when Bongbong decided to run for a national position in 2010—a seat in the Senate.
With even his partymates campaigning against him, the Bayan Muna candidates who were adopted by the Nacionalista Party, Bongbong placed 7th, garnering a total votes of 13,169,364. Even NP’s standard bearer, Manny Villar could only get a third of Bongbong’s votes. And this could only mean one thing—the Marcos supporters are still very much around.
Still in doubt?
In 2016, despite the all-out campaign waged against him by the Aquino administration, and assuming he really was not cheated, Bongbong got 14,155,344 votes in the vice presidential race. In fact, Mr. Dick Pascual contends the Marcos have helped Duterte get elected in 2016. And this could actually hold water.
Duterte got a total of 16,601,997 votes. While Bongbong’s running mate then was the late Miriam Defensor-Santiago, she only got 1,455,532 votes, meaning the majority of those who voted for Marcos, did not go for her. So, who will these Marcos supporters vote for?
The obvious choice would be Duterte. It would be even safe to assume that Duterte won not because he was popular that time. He won because of the overwhelming frustration and hatred of the people that time against the Aquino administration. And the Marcos supporters would willingly deliver their votes for the former Davao City mayor rather than suffer another six years of Yellow rule.
Never mind Cayetano, Duterte’s running mate got more than 5 million votes that time as he cannot deliver those votes to Duterte as he is also largely identified with the Yellows ever since. But granting for the sake of argument, Cayetano did deliver votes for Duterte, it would still mean more than half of Duterte’s voters were also from the Marcos camp.
The Marcos command vote was again validated in 2019 when Imee Marcos placed 8th in the senatorial elections, garnering a total of 15,882,628 votes.
The figures don’t lie. The number of Marcos supporters is around 13 million to a little less than 16 million. It would have been a different story if the figures would show an erratic rise or fluctuation. But no, after nine years, it seems to be slowly but consistently on the rise.
With such a formidable number to back him up, and adding up Duterte’s own supporters, the tandem of Bongbong and Duterte, be it the father or the daughter, would really be unbeatable.
But the major contention of course would be is this: Who will be the standard bearer?
The Duterte camp would surely bat for the equity of the incumbent as they are the ones in power. But to slide down to the position of vice president would be more acceptable as it would do away issues of morality and political dynasty. Anyway, she’s still young. She’s only 43 now. And if she decides to run for president in 2028, she would still be only 49.
Anyway, neither one has made known their preference for next year. Even after getting the commitment of the Solid North, Bongbong says they are still weighing their options. And the same I believe goes for Sara.
But in the event these two decide to team up, as Mr. Dick Pascual puts it, “barring any divine (or devious) intervention, a Marcos-Duterte tandem would be formidable.” Tapos na ang boksing.
But, 2022 has just gotten more exciting.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso resigned as vice chairman and member of the Enrique Razon backed-National Unity Party. Domagoso’s resignation from the NUP fortifies beliefs that he is indeed throwing his hat into the ring that is next year’s presidential election.
His action is widely believed to be a reaction to rumors his party is negotiating with another probable candidate – Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte. A day before Domagoso’s resignation, the presidential daughter was said to have again hinted she would be running for president when she declared she would go for a total Cabinet revamp should she win, sparing no one among her father’s appointees.
A couple of hours after Domagoso’s sudden move, PDP-Laban president, Energy Secretary Al Cusi announced they have nominated Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go and President Rodrigo Duterte as their party’s official bets for 2022. Go even issued a statement reiterating his position that he will only seek the presidency if the older Duterte would agree to be his running mate.
Interestingly, all those aforementioned moves happened just days after former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. said he would only seek the presidency if he could muster enough support to carry him to victory.
It was Bongbong sounding off a clarion call to Marcos supporters, some 15 million strong, to come out and openly express their support in order for him to engage in his biggest political battle. He was giving the Marcos supporters the honor of deciding his possible presidential run. It would be their collective voices reverberating throughout the country – from the selection of the candidate to putting their chosen one to the halls of power.
And even as the younger Duterte and Marcos have to make known their preference for 2022, they already are enjoying a groundswell of support.
Late last month, an alliance of strong political leaders from the so-called Solid North ed by League of Municipalities President and Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Chavit Singson and Isabela Gov. Rodito Albano, along with dozens of congressmen and elected local government officials, pledged united support for Marcos as they urged him to run for president in next year’s elections.
Sara, on the other hand, had been eliciting support from the country’s major political parties including Lakas-NUCD, the Nacionalista Party, and Isko’s former party, the NUP.
And both Bongbong and Sara are considered frontrunners even as this early even if they have yet to make any declaration if they are running and for what position.
In yesterday’s press briefing hosted by the National Press Club, Marcos reiterated he still has his options in 2022 open. Meaning he could step down as a vice presidential candidate, or push for the top post, which could open the possibility of a possible team-up between him and Inday Sara.
And as I have already said earlier, once these two agree to slug it out together next year, tapos na ang boksing.
But then, Bongbong has already sounded his call. And not only do I believe his throngs of supporters will heed the call, but that they will also insist that he should not settle for anything less than the presidency.