Tue. May 17th, 2022
Cartoon by Steven Pabalinas

By Ado Paglinawan

What prompted me to write about this topic are the words of Emil Jurado in his “To the Point” article today in the Manila Standard entitled “My choice: Sara-Bongbong”.

Perhaps the oldest pundit in the Philippine mainstream media, by age he should be the dean of mainstream print media. The problem, however, is that he does a hodge-podge column, snippets of ideas more like opinions based on observations but not necessarily coming out of deep analysis. 

Jurado said, “There are now at least six running for President: Senator Ping Lacson, Senator Manny Pacquiao, former Senator Bongbong Marcos, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Vice President Leni Robredo, and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.” 

I consider this curious. Why, because despite statements that the lady mayor of Davao City repeatedly saying in public she is not running for a national position and the fact that she has filed her Certificate of Candidacy for reelection for a local position, there seems to persist this idea of pitting her for the presidency.

Where did Jurado base this conclusion? He said, “I included presidential daughter Sara because sources told me she would run for President. I am told Bongbong Marcos and Sara will eventually team up, with Bongbong running as vice president.”

There you go, hearsay, there seems to be an angel or a demon, whispering to everyone’s ears – Run, Sara, Run.

Months ago, in almost all places predominantly in the Visayas and Mindanao, a well-funded campaign to draft the presidential daughter for president, was launched.

My own sources indicated that the powerful juice that has been poured into the draft originated from KGMA and Kampi followers of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her husband Mike, and it did not take long for the Duterte Diehard Supporters (DDS) to be lured into it.

I found nothing wrong about it until Inday Sara ordered all Run-Sara-Run tarpaulins be taken down giving the impression that she had nothing to do with the draft.

It has even caught the imagination of her own father, who has incessantly insisted she take on the national position.

Answering a question by Rey Langit in the ambush interview outside Sofitel in Manila, “So is it clear, Sara-Go?” after the President announced his retirement from politics after accompanying Senator Bong’s filing for vice-president, Digong responded, “It is Sara-Go!”

In the same clip, the 76-year-old leader was asked when his daughter would file her candidacy for president, he said: “I really do not know. I do not have any idea at all”.

Immediately, Sara Duterte’s spokesperson, Mayor Christina Frasco issued an update: “Mayor Sara has no intention of becoming a member of PDP or of being its standard bearer now or in the near future.

“She has already filed her Certificate of Candidacy for Mayor. Not being a member of PDP-Laban, she is not privy to the party’s sudden change of plans.”

Meanwhile at the grounds of the Philippine International Convention Center fronting Sofitel, a Run-Sara-Run rally was being staged.

That stage extends to former Cabinet Secretary Leoncioi “Jun” Evasco joining the People’s Reform Party founded by Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, with no less than Miriam’s widower PRP president Narciso Santiago Jr, administering his oath.

About three weeks ago, the Davao regional party Hugpong sa Pagbabago officials met with Inday Sara to express their dismay over the mayor’s announcement that she was not seeking any national post.

While the lady did not commit that she would move on to the national political scene, she explained to her supporters that one of difficulties in considering so is that she lacked of affiliation with any national party.

So her cheerleaders suggested the People’s Reform Party, and it is not a coincidence that Evasco, who was Digong’s campaign manager in 2016, moves to open a “pawn-to-queen four” in Sara’s chessboard.

This is not to say that Sara is engaged in a doublespeak, saying she won’t in public but secretly maneuvering to engage. I know the mayor is hardly a scheming politician, but I know those around her and her father in the peanut gallery are.

Digong, Sara and Bong prepares for the President’s State of the Nation Address.

One of the reasons is that it appears that this Run-Sara-Run strategy is more like preventing Bongbong Marcos from making his own soar for the presidency rather than an earnest pitch for the top plum.

The nexus to Gloria Arroyo is already ominous. Is the former president merely expressing her gratitude to Sara Duterte for the removal of Pantaleon Alvarez and Arroyo’s quick succession to the speakership in July 2018?

Or is this GMA’s way of protecting her turf in much of her nominees being retained onto another Duterte presidency. Surely this is ambitious bordering on wishful thinking, for the mayor replaced almost all of her father’s appointees in the Davao City local government. 

Among those controlled by Arroyo is the energy sector from Alfonso Cusi as secretary and Agnes Devanadera as chief regulator in her capacity as chairperson of the Energy Regulatory Commission.

Devanadera has failed to improve the situation of rising power costs, as she has ignored for what is now almost five four-year regulatory periods of provisional price increases since 2001. That’s when GMA became president – 20 years of looking the other way victimizing millions of consumers nationwide.

The late patriot Jojo Borja, himself a power producer but who turned traitor to his own class to become the consumers’ champion fiscalizing the abuses at ERC, estimates that Meralco alone owes some P200 billion in refundables while the entire power industry owes its consumers for more than a trillion.

Devanadera came up with an attempt to start these refunds at no more than P40 billion but guess where she had proposed the producers to get the money? Again, from provisional power increases.

Note that Gloria Macapagal and her husband Mike Arroyo, are substantial stockholders of San Miguel Corporation that owns 32% of Meralco.

Meanwhile, Cusi is not just a member of the President’s Cabinet for Energy but is the president of the Digong’s political party, the PDP-Laban. Armed with that information, does it sound logical to you now, that Inday Sara refuses to be part of PDP-Laban?

So now the oligarchs have infiltrated the Run-Sara-Run. The movement has now acquired another color, that of yellow. Question is what would a Duterte running for president in 2022, serve the oligarchs and the opposition?

Let me cut the chase.

First it would be easier for them to cut Duterte’s foothold in Visayas and Mindanao.

As we speak, the Pantaleon Alvarez who consolidated the Davao region (R11) beating Sara’s Hugpong in 2019 in the local elections, is back in the groove. He momentarily neglected his leaders for the past two years making them gravitate back to the Dutertes, but he can always use the same money power he wielded to humiliate Antonio ‘Tonyboy’ Floirendo Jr. to losing right in his own district.

By a stroke of bad luck, Florendo, one of the closest and oldest allies of the Dutertes, was sentenced by the Sandiganbayan to 6 to 8 years over his family company’s longtime land deal with the government. This still is not final as I would anticipate the former congressman appealing this to the Supreme Court.

Alvarez, despite the fact that he belongs to another political party, Reporma, has also forged a coalition with Manny Pacquiao who has filed his COC for president. The boxing champion is the opposition’s man in the region comprising South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City. Already, a Pacquiao candidacy does not settle well for Sara Duterte running for the same position.

Promdi Pacquiao and Reporma Alvarez in consultations at the former’s residence. Selfie courtesy of Ron Munsayac, Pacquiao’s handler assigned by his political trainor Koko Pimentel.

For Region 10, it is nebulous whether Koko Pimentel has any clout, but whatever his residual influence there is, he can still contribute to shave votes.

On another front, the Maguindanao Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu is also playing footsies with the presidential aspirants by making himself visible last October 1 with his two children at the Aksyon Demokratiko oath-taking of his 24-year-old wife Sharifa who will run for Sultan Kudarat governor challenging incumbent Governor Suharto Mangudadatu, Sangki-Mangudadatu’s husband.

Sangki, who belongs to the Nacionalista Party, is the governor of Maguidanao and “Bai Miriam” namesake of Toto’s young wife. The congressman who is being wooed by Pantaleon Alvarez to oppose Duterte, still has to make a clarification as to his affiliation.

The opposition seems unable to unite for and under one presidential candidate but they are definitely converging against the Dutertes in Southern Philippines.

Western Mindanao is also a contentious territory for the Dutertes.

Nur Misuari, Sakur Tan and the Sultanate of Sulu have made their endorsements of Bongbong Marcos for president for two reasons, first the President has totally ignored the Tausugs from being part of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), and second, there has been no follow-up to the recovery of Sabah under this administration, and lastly they say that a woman as the top leader of the country, is unacceptable to the Muslim faith.

There are therefore stormy waters ahead for a Sara Duterte candidacy for president starting from Mindanao that the Duterte Diehard Supporters are claiming to be a “solid south”.

In the concluding part of this topic, I will deal on the other implications of the presidential daughter running for president.

But as I started with Emil Jurado, with all due respects I also end up with him.

The Manila Standard columnist wrote, “In my over seven decades as a journalist, I know the regional sentiments of voters. An Ilocano tends to vote for an Ilocano candidate wherever he is, whether in the North or in the South, whether he is in Ilocos or in Mindanao.

However, Jurado ends with an incoherent conclusion – “I am inclined to favor the Sara-Bongbong team since it’s geographically and demographically formidable.”

Shouldn’t he have instead closed with, “Bongbong-Sara”?

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