By Yen Makabenta
First of Two Parts
Individually, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio are just politicians who bear the names and are heirs to bigger-than-life figures in Philippine politics and history. Each is a leader in their own right who could plausibly run for president and stand on their own feet and by their wits.
Combined, BBM and Sara are dynamite in the world of electoral politics. The team is so potent it could blow up the 2022 election to smithereens, romping home with the prize and leaving their opponents in the dust with only the fragments of a lost campaign.
Decision to work together
The most remarkable aspect of the BBM-Sara tandem is the decision of the two leaders to work together, not only in the campaign but evidently also in the task of governing which would follow after the balloting.
The US Constitution’s original method of presidential selection misfired (in 1800 Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr were deadlocked in their electoral votes, a tie which went to the House of Representatives, where Jefferson needed 36 ballots to clinch the presidency, making Burr his vice president).
This event led to the 12th Amendment to the US Constitution, which provided for separate balloting for president and vice president.
With the emergence of political parties, candidates thereafter ran as teams. It was only in 1940 that the US presidential nominees began handpicking their running mates.
In the Philippines, the 1935 Constitution inexplicably adopted the old and abandoned practice of separate voting on the president and vice president in national elections. Filipino candidates for high office did not run as a presidential team; this led to the election of a president and a vice president who belonged to rival parties. This phenomenon carried over into national elections under the 1987 Constitution.
After the term of President Corazon Aquino in 1992, the winner in the presidential balloting had to govern with a vice president belonging to a rival party. The veeps, Joseph Estrada to President Fidel V. Ramos, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to Joseph Estrada, eventually rose to the presidency, by winning full terms.
In 2010, when Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino 3rd was elected president, Jejomar Binay won as the vice president. Binay did not rise to the presidency; he failed in his bid to get his own presidential term in 2016, an election which was won by Rodrigo Duterte, the nation’s 16th president.
Next year, Vice President Leni Robredo will strive to win a presidential term in the May 2022 election. But it will be a long and arduous struggle for the lady.
The unstable political setup could finally end in the 2022 election, if the presidential team of Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio triumph in the vote, and the pre-election polls and public opinion surveys hold true.
READ: History points to a watershed election That Needs an Affirmative Vote for the Future
Bongbong and Sara have consciously decided to enter the 2022 elections as a team; they will win or lose together. Together, they will lead a nationwide slate of candidates for lower-level posts, which they characterize as a UniTeam under their lead. It is an ambitious bid to win a full national mandate to lead and form the new government, from the presidency to the Congress, and to the local governments across the entire country.
Political maturity and eloquence
Bongbong Marcos invited Sara to be his running mate in the 2022 election. Sara graciously accepted the offer, and generously acknowledged that Marcos was fully ready to tackle the tasks of the presidency.
On Sunday, November 21, Sara Duterte-Carpio explained to the media and her supporters why she agreed to be the running mate of “Bongbong” Marcos in 2022.
In words reflecting both political maturity and eloquence, Sara said simply and directly:
“Bakit si Bongbong Marcos ang pinili kong partner? Unang-una, he’s a former governor. Walang puwedeng kumuwestyon sa kanyang experience as governor. Parang ako, meyor. Local chief executive.
“Pangalawa, may experience siya sa House of Representatives. Naging congressman siya.
(Why did I choose to partner with Bongbong Marcos? First, he is a former governor. Nobody “me, I am a mayor. Local chief executive. Second, he has had experience at the House of Representatives. He became a congressman),” she said during their caravan in Tagum City, Davao del Norte.
“Pangatlo, naging senador siya. Pinili ninyo, binoto ninyo. Naniniwala ako, and I confidently believe na ang kanyang experience: gobernador, congressman, senador — ito ang tutulong sa kanya para magampanan niya ang kanyang trabaho bilang pangulo ng Pilipinas.
(Third, he was a senator. You chose him, you voted for him. I believe, and I confidently believe that his experience as a governor, congressman and a senator will help him fulfill his duty as the country’s president),” she added.
“Sa huli, iiwan ko sa inyo ang mensahe — sa mga tumatawag pa rin sa akin na tumakbo para sa pagka-presidente. Ang tinatakbuhan ko ay vice president. Bakit? Because oftentimes in life, we find ourselves to be a leader. Pero sometimes, in our lives, we need to stand behind another leader.
(In the end, I will leave this message — to those still calling me president. I am running for vice president. Why? Because oftentimes in life, we find ourselves to be a leader. But sometimes, in our lives, we need to stand behind another leader).”
Eloquent words, indeed — the mark perhaps of greater things to come.
This union of forces is not just a case of a presidential candidate handpicking someone as a running mate for vice president. This is an instance of a leader choosing consciously to align herself with another leader — the presidential standard-bearer.
Beyond this wonderful show of confidence and trust in each other, BBM and Sara have provided compelling reasons why they are such a formidable team and why together they will have mass appeal to voters, and why their candidacy will cut across the entire archipelago to bridge differences among and between political groups, regions, ethnicities and interests, to forge a single direction forward for the nation.
Dick Morris writes in The New Prince: “It is strategy, not spin, that wins elections. A candidate who waits for the other candidate to make a mistake or relies on outspending his opponent to win is playing a fool’s game.
“The wiser course is to rely on a basic strategy which frames the interplay of competing messages clearly and shows a path to victory.”