Bong, Sara, Manny: Faces of continuity
A Go-Duterte tandem is now being bruited about as the ruling administration’s winning card in the 2022 elections. President Duterte himself declared that Sen. Bong Go wants to run for president. In turn, Go said he will run only if Mr. Duterte agrees to be his vice president. Then followed a proliferation of “Go-Duterte” online posts and tarpaulins in many places.
If they’re indeed the administration bets and they win, we will not have a Go presidency. It will be a second term for Rodrigo Duterte. President Duterte would have found a way to go around the constitutional prohibition against reelection, through a scheme that was never imagined by those who wrote our Constitution — running and ruling through a dummy.
If such will be our fate in 2022, our governmental setup will be similar to a constitutional monarchy. We will have a head of state who is merely a ceremonial leader, with real power wielded by someone else — in our case, the vice president.
This scenario finds basis in the power dynamics that have defined the relationship between the two personalities for a long time, with Mr. Duterte as master and Go as sidekick. It’s a relationship that was forged during the decades that Mr. Duterte was city mayor and Go was his loyal assistant. Even when Go became senator, he could not unshackle himself from the mindset that he’s a mere extension of Mr. Duterte, as he continued to be constantly at the side of his long-time boss. It will also be unthinkable for Mr. Duterte to alter his frame of mind and, as vice president, take orders as now the servant to his former servant.
But how will this sit with Sara Duterte? Will she be willing to allow her father’s assistant to inherit the crown instead of her? Her father has belittled the capacity of women to be suited for the presidency. And Sara Duterte has issued statements of disinterest in the presidency. But beneath the veneer of disparagement and indifference, we see tarpaulins, social media campaigns, and jostling among provincial politicians, all pointing to an orchestrated drama that will culminate in a supposedly reluctant Sara getting convinced to run as her father’s successor.
If Go runs for the presidency, he will not stand a chance unless he runs in tandem with Rodrigo Duterte as his vice president. If Sara Duterte runs in tandem with her father, the avarice for power will be too unpalatable for many voters. Regardless of who will be the administration bet in the presidential election, the chosen candidate will be up nominally against the opposition candidate, but more seriously against two more powerful opponents: COVID-19 and hunger. In other words, the administration bet will have to explain why we need continuity even in the face of the unprecedented ruin that has befallen our country.
And what do we make of Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s presidential aspirations? From the way Pacquiao has comported himself during his six years in the Senate, he wants to be president, because there’s this deep longing for him to feel that he belongs in the circle of wealthy, educated, and powerful men and women of this country. It’s a sad mentality, because even with the wealth, power, and fame he has accumulated, he still has this gnawing feeling that he’s an outsider in the enclaves of the privileged class. Perhaps the longing is driven by his perception that he doesn’t have the name, the pedigree, and the twang that characterize the members of the elite.
Pacquiao wastes his huge potential, because he tragically thinks that he needs to mimic traditional politicians for him to succeed as a leader. He basks in the company of detested politicians and he’s over-eager to please them. If he wins the presidency, it will be the continuing heyday of “trapos.” Pacquiao needs to unlearn all the bad manners he has picked up from his politician friends. He must hark back to the days when he was among the destitute members of society, and then allow those memories to calibrate the beating of his heart. Otherwise, he will add even more serious ruin to our already ravaged country.
Bong, Sara, and Manny: They will be the faces of continuity for what this country has become.
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