The government's COVID-19 response may hold back public support for the presidential candidate that President Rodrigo Duterte, whose six-year term expires in June, will endorse in the 2022 elections, a political strategist said on Friday.
Dindo Manhit, founder and managing director of Stratbase ADR Institute for Strategic and International Studies, said in an interview on NET-25 the economic consequences of the pandemic, including the slow process of vaccination and long-running lockdowns, would challenge how the voters perceive the administration’s potential bet.
The commentary emerged as Vice President Leni Robredo called for unity that seeks to include others among those in opposition.
Robredo made the remarks after opposition coalition 1Sambayan announced on June 12 its initial list of nominees for presidency and vice presidency in next year's elections, which included her.
"When we talk about unity, we don't just talk about the same beliefs.
We give space for those who believe something else besides our own,” she said in her weekly radio show.
In related developments, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar directed the police to work closely with the military in preventing communist terrorists from collecting “permit-to-campaign” fees from politicians with less than a year left before the 2022 national and local elections.
This, after the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Saturday said it would coordinate with the PNP and local government units to stop the illegal activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing New People’s Army. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
The popularity of Duterte is also not an assurance for the administration’s candidate to be elected, Manhit said, who, taking a political line himself, expressed his disapproval of the Duterte-Duterte tandem, saying it would not benefit Philippine democracy, although this was not prohibited by the Constitution.
He was referring to the touted possible combination for the two highest posts of Sara Duterte-Carpio for president and her father for vice president.
Recently, the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan’s official consensus showed its support for the possible team-up between the daughter-father tandem.
However, Malacañang rejected the possibility.
Meanwhile, Manhit commended the idea of having a unified opposition to provide a clear division and alternative path of governance.
In March, the coalition opposition 1Sambayan was launched, aimed at forming a single slate of national candidates for the 2022 elections that would go up against the administration candidates.
But political sources noted that there were only two of six identified candidates for president as sure of fighting it out – the two being
Robredo and former Senator Trillanes IV, although the latter said he would give way to Robredo if the vice president should decide to run for the highest post.
Manhit added the continuing dispute regarding the West Philippine Sea would be included in the 2022 elections debate as the public, according to him, did not like how Duterte handled the dispute against China.
But many political and diplomatic analysts agree that Duterte, as the president, is the chief architect of foreign policy.
Manhit said social media and traditional media would play a big role in how voters view the 2022 electoral candidates.
Despite his doubts about the so-called ‘pandemic disinformation,’ he still hoped that 87 to 89 million Filipinos would at least have access to social media.
He also reminded Filipinos to be cautious in believing and sharing fake news online, without defining what was fake news..
The campaign period will start from Feb. 8 to May 7 while the election period will start from Jan. 9 to June 8, 2022, according to the Commission on Elections.
Robredo also urged politicians' supporters, including her own, to refrain from posting misinformation on social media.
“It's okay for supporters to be active on social media, but I hope no one's spreading lies,” she said.
Robredo earlier said she was open to run for the country's top post.
For his part, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said Robredo was the unifying bet of the opposition party.
“To truly unify the opposition, there must be only one candidate for president against President Rodrigo Duterte’s anointed presidential aspirant,” he said.
“Listing many presidentiables does not project and encourage unity against the Duterte forces,” he added.
He also cited Robredo’s “effective and singular performance during the continuing onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic exposes the errant and failed response to the contagion of President Duterte, and that her enduring adherence to constitutionalism and the rule of law is the direct opposite to Duterte’s repeated violations of the Constitution on due process, human rights, and press freedom, among others.”
“I am directing all police offices and units to be extra vigilant in your respective areas of responsibility and strictly monitor the extortion activities of these communist rebels in demanding money from candidates in exchange for so-called ‘permits to campaign’ for the coming elections,” Eleazar said in a statement on Saturday.
Eleazar also warned politicians planning to run for posts in the 2022 elections against giving “permit-to-campaign” fees to the CPP-NPA as they will be complicit in the communist rebels’ illegal activities.
He said the money collected by the communist rebels would definitely be used in the purchase of more firearms and other logistics to sustain the CPP-NPA’s senseless and pointless “armed struggle.”
Meanwhile, in a video message, Duterte said he wanted "Wowowin" host Willie Revillame to run for senator in the 2022 elections.
"Willie, si mayor 'to. Kumusta ka? Matagal na tayong 'di nagkita pero palagi kitang naaalala dahil gusto ko sanang maging senador ka," Duterte said in his video message heard nationwide.