"What was that meeting really about?"
Only a serious split within the ruling PDP-Laban can possibly defeat President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. This if we take the premise that he will run for a second term and is not prohibited by the Constitution. Politicians can only speculate on his next move.
Those who have been aspiring for the top gun are now busy tapping alliances to allow them to remain in power. They are jockeying for the top slot, and of all things, they come not from the discredited yellow party but from ruling party PDP-Laban. This is strange for it seems the party has run out of credible candidates to field against the President. Such is inexplicable for neither is their martial law nor the opposition can claim that freedom of the press and of expression is being denied of them.
In politics, he who comes early often turns out to be the first casualty. For instance, the meeting between Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and Bongbong Marcos together with Senator Imee Marcos was wildly speculated as a preparatory selection on who will run under the administration ticket.
Although the visit was made to appear as a greeting for the birthday of Mayor Duterte, many believe the agenda was meant to solidify the alliance of the two political parties. The frustration however is that no news came out of what was discussed like the possible merger of the two parties, the formation of a single ticket or who the front-runner will be.
What was apparent is that Senator Manny Pacquiao was miffed that he could not wait for the result of the meeting. He hastily tried to call the national council of the PDP-Laban to meet in Cebu. That move exposed his ambition to secure his position as de facto president after the post was left vacant by Senator Aquilino Pimentel. Senators Dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino politely excused themselves.
The two cannot, in conscience, nominate Pacquiao as President for that would be a sign of disrespect to the President who traditionally is accorded the rank of ex-oficio head of the party. That exposed Pacquiao as without a solid base because nobody was willing to risk their position and their alliance with the president. It was embarrassing because Senators de la Rosa and Tolentino practically snubbed the meeting called by that political upstart.
Although no election has been held to replace Senator Pimentel, Pacquiao should not have interpreted that as a cue to replace the President. Many could read that Pacquiao wanted to prevent the two political titans from reaching a consensus as to who between them will serve as front-runner, which means that Pacquiao could equally be placed out of the equation. He was not honest enough to tell the President about this.
It is noteworthy that the position of party president is not an elective or a constitutional public office. The members see no rush in wanting to elect a successor, especially if the President of the republic is sitting as ex-oficio head of the party. This explains why no election has been held since the post was vacated by Pimentel. Rather, Senator Pacquiao wrongly interpreted the post as belonging to him.
What happened is no different from the current squabble within the opposition, and why they remain politically stagnant. Leni Robredo’s rating continues to slide down, and her handlers do not even bother to ask why. After the case was decided by an obviously bigoted justice, her rating has not shot up even after the High Court virtually erased the brazen electoral fraud she committed. Even retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio continues to suffer the same malaise of political apoplexy such that he is looked down as someone of a shoo-in candidate like the late candidate for president, Racuyal.
Senator Pacquiao could have chosen to retire from the PDP-Laban before lambasting the President. To attack the head of the party while he remains a member is rather rude and unethical. Many of his peers in the PD-Laban could not explain why the pugilist suddenly turned an arch-critic of the administration. People could sense he is driven by sheer ambition for power and not for the prize money which he savors much.
Pacquiao’s strategy is to prevent PDF-Laban from choosing a common candidate. His handlers might think the idea could contribute to his ambition of wanting to be the President. To realize this, the opposition is doing everything to bait Duterte to run in their make-believe democratic election. They want him to be carried by their drumbeating that he is so popular for him to shy away from the dictates of destiny. Even the former presidential spokesman and a carnival dresser, Salvador Panelo, is now shamelessly endorsing a political tandem as his candidates he aptly calls “Duterte for Duterte” ticket. Many do not know whether he understands the implication of that slogan.
As said, when Pacquiao urged the party’s national council to convene, his intention was to pre-empt the meeting in Davao City. Fortunately, nobody attended. It was later learned that the President requested Energy Secretary Alfronso Cusi to convene the meeting to show he was visibly irked by Pacquiao’s comment saying, “nakukulangan pa daw siya” to the President’s statement on the West Philippine Sea, and later made a snide that he will fire the energy secretary after learning the country will be having brownout because of low water supply.
Right now, there is a move by some party members to impress upon the President that he is still in command to dispel doubt about his leadership. They want to convey it to the members that there has to be some kind of party discipline. The Marcoses and the Duterte may not be as avid supporters of China. Rather, their adoption of an independent foreign policy is pursuant to what will serve best for the country’s national interest. The old school still believed that attacking China on issues involving US-Philippine relations is their surest guarantee to being elected. That to be pro-American is to side for freedom and democracy. It is for this why Senator Pacquiao now wants to project himself as a magic boy that could provide guidance to our ideological direction.
The failure of the opposition to put up a credible candidate is as frustrating as scouting a credible puppet candidate. Rumors had it that the opposition, possibly with the inducement by the US, even attempted to solicit the support of some members of the Armed Forces to betray the President for failing to assert our claim over the disputed islands in the South China Sea. The rumor of a coup coincided with the time when the US-instigated a coup in Belarus to overthrow Alexander Lukashenko.
The US is conceiving every chicanery to purposely derail the legitimate government. It is not about their fear in the ideological war with China but in losing altogether their economic dominance. Sad to say, the US is no longer capable of financing potential lapdogs to support its cause. It no longer has the resources as before its economy tilted in favor of China to come to the rescue of the Philippines except for the loud talk of defending us. Its big corporations could no longer bankroll their candidates as they used to do in the 50s up to the 90s.