Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

By Ado Paglinawan

With three fresh political parties, each fielding their own presidential candidates, the road ahead for Leni Robredo and her Pinklawan and 1Sambayan drumbeaters, is dark and gloomy.

The first sign of her virtual defeat six months before the elections is the cancellation by Albert del Rosario of the P25,000 per plate fundraising dinner that 1 Sambayan had “Chef Jessie,” prepare at his Rockwell restaurant for November 16.

No lucid donor would support her, after Sara Duterte-Carpio sealed her candidacy for vice-president under the second largest political coalition in the country – the Lakas-CMD Party and announced that she is running in tandem with Bongbong Marcos of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas.

The day had barely ended, when vice-presidential candidate Christopher Bong Go appeared at the Comelec accompanied by President Rodrigo Duterte withdrawing his candidacy and filing instead for presidency under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS) party.

Go said he decided to run for president to avoid clashing with Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Duterte announces that his presidential candidate in this election is Senator Go.

The Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan wing headed by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that the party decided to let Go run under the PDDS to avoid possible snags, as the Commission on Elections has yet to rule on the dispute involving two factions of the ruling party.

The other wing is headed by Koko Pimentel and Manny Pacquiao, who recently visited President Duterte at the Malacanang having the temerity to ask the President to unite “for the sake of Mindanao”, after hurling for the past months diatribes against the administration.

By the way, Ronaldo Bato de la Rosa also withdrew his candidacy for president under PDP-Laban.

Then on the last day of substitution, retired Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. filed for presidency under the Katipunan ng Demokratikong Pilipino and President Duterte ended up filing for Senator instead under Bong Go’s new party?

President Duterte’s running for vice-president would have also made him a lameduck because all things considered and he wins, he will end up a spare tire in the next administration.

Joining the electoral race will stop him from sliding under, until June 30, 2021 and thereafter as a senator having the potential of assuming the senate presidency.

But why have these theatrics become so important?

Notice that for the past two weeks at least, the propaganda machine of the opposition has been silenced. The narrative has been first over how Sara Duterte will make up her mind, second what is really behind the Bong Go running for president, and third why the President is running for the Senate.

To be a lame-duck with a cannibalistic opposition at his back will only encourage political opportunists and foreign ‘regime change’ artists to join the picture, wanting to oust him to prevent an election.

So, expect the President to participate in the political contest until his last day in office, and beyond.

Never mind the dynamics between and among Marcos, Go and Parlade as presidential candidates. They are Duterte supporters so I doubt if they will cancel each other.

Unintended or other wise, the triangulating effect boxes out the opposition rather than weaken any of them. I see the three as parallels not perpendiculars, as such their collective votes marginalize the enemies of the administration by seeding a wall in front of Leni Robredo who leads the opposition numbers.

Bong Go’s candidacy can also run to the end of the campaign period, an option to withdraw may not even be necessary.

Jun Parlade’s candidacy can also serve as a coup d’grace for Leni Robredo. It will deny Robredo a solid “Bicolano” Region V votes, erstwhile her bailiwick. Of the provinces of Bicol, Parlade’s Albay is a lot bigger than Robredo’s Camarines Sur. Without a solid Bicol, Robredo will finish a poor second or third, that is if Isko Moreno does not overtake her.

Sara’s calculated steps

Sara’s stars, however, began way before this rigmarole.

Two years into her father’s presidency, she founded on February 2018 Hugpong ng Pagbabago (Faction for Change), a political alliance in the Philippines that began as a regional political party based in Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. The party was established in support of her father who is President.

Sara actually became her own “man” when she, together with former president Gloria Arroyo (serving a term as Pampanga congressman) and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, toppled down Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on July, 2018. 

READ: The Women Behind the Fall of Alvarez https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/women-behind-fall-pantaleon-alvarez-speaker-house-representatives

The floor under Alvarez had started shaking in 2017, when the Speaker started a feud with Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr, President Rodrigo Duterte’s biggest campaign donor.

When Sara formed Hugpong, Alvarez criticized her for forming regional party without her father’s blessing.

This is the first time she showed true grit in national politics.

Alvarez’ loose tongue got her goat and served as the tipping point of the ouster of Alvarez. Congresswoman Arroyo replaced him as Speaker in a surprise move.

In the 2019 senatorial campaign, Sara led the Tapang at Malasakit boost for some of her father’s senatorial candidates and her friends. 

For his part, Bongbong Marcos also went into the hustings to proxy for his sister Imee.  In my log, this was when I first sensed new friendships getting closer leading to the making of the Bongbong Marcos-Sara Duterte Carpio tandem as Sara, Bongbong, Gloria Arroyo, Gwen Garcia, Martin Romualdez and Imee would occasionally find themselves campaigning together.

WATCH: Ang Mahiwagang Proxy

But the general public would first caught attention only when Imee and Bongbong visited Sara in Davao City for her birthday last May 2021.

Bongbong and Imee with Sara in Davao City to greet her Happy Birthday.

A clamor was already building up for her to run a for a national position as many have been rallying for the continuity of father’s programs. So, the visit sparked the peanut gallery for strong presidential-vice presidential speculations for both. The only unresolved matter in the mindset of their supporters is as who will run for which position

What made it difficult for Sara to make a final decision early on, however, was that the Run-Sara-Run (for president) movement that immediately gained fever nationwide.

Her eyes have originally been on running for a third term as mayor of Davao City. She felt that she could not leave her unfinished projects hanging.

She is known for sticking to her word, and making her intentions transparent.

But the pressure grew. Before the end of August, she revealed her father’s plans for his party, inviting her to participate.

She refused to participate in her father’s plans, issuing this statement.

About two weeks after, on September 9, Duterte-Carpio announced she would not vie for the presidential post. As President Duterte had also announced that he would be running for vice-president, she called for support towards her father’s plans.

On October 5, Bongbong Marcos formally announced his candidacy for president, after filing his candidacy with the Comelec.

WATCH: Marcos runs for president https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfEeD620h7I

Many lobbied waited until the final hours of October 8 deadline in front of Sofitel, where the Comelec was receiving candidacies for national position, for Inday Sara to run for president or any national position.

When she did not, it sent many to tears. Some even to tantrums.

As a response, she issued another statement.

Before October ended, however, Sara and Bongbong flew to Cebu City allegedly to endorse Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia run for reelection.

However, talk was thick that the Governor instead weighed heavily on both friends to run either way Sara-BBM or BBM-Sara, insisting that this was what would be best for the country.

A wild report even surfaced that if they do not complete a tandem, she might be persuaded to support Manila Mayor Isko Moreno instead for the presidency. Her One Cebu Coalition also announced that they will disclose their national choices after the November 15 party substitution deadline.

Dinner in Cebu with Governor Garcia.

Four days before that, on November 11, a political “wedding” was formalized.

Sara Duterte walked the aisle with Bongbong Marcos, who turns out to be a last-minute inclusion in the list of sponsors for the nuptials of Senator Bong Revilla’s daughter at Silang, Cavite.

Inday Sara resigned from Hugpong the same day, and enlisted with Lakas-CMD, filed her candidacy for vice president, and announced her coalition with Partido Federal standard bearer and presidential candidate, Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr.

All I can say is congratulations to both for finally finding their way beyond the maze of Philippine politics, and my best wishes for the Republic of the Philippines.

Bongbong and Sara at Silang.

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