Who blinks first

"It looks like a lose-lose situation for US President Donald Trump." 


That photograph of Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro on the balcony of the presidential palace reminds me eerily of another photo in the Philippines taken on February 25, 1986.

President Ferdinand Marcos and his family were on one of the balconies of Malacanang, facing a crowd of loyalists after taking his oath of office as the “duly elected president” after a critical “snap” election for president and vice-president that he was pressured by the Americans to call some three months before.

The loyalist crowd chanted “Marcos pa rin!” while somewhere else in the metropolis, at the Club Filipino in San Juan, a few hundreds proclaimed Cory Aquino and Doy Laurel the president and vice-president of the Republic.  Outside the elite club, thousands gathered to express their support.

By nightfall, Marcos was airlifted out of Malacanang and into Clark Air Base, then an American military base, and from there to Hawaii where he lived in exile until his death hastened by lupus erythrymatosus.

Venezuela’s Maduro, heir to another leftist strongman, Hugo Chavez, has proclaimed himself the “re-elected” president of this oil-rich country since gone penurious and hardly livable with thousand-percent inflation amid a shortage of basics.  

But America and several Latin American neighbors dispute Maduro’s legitimacy and have proclaimed opposition leader Juan Guaido as “interim” president.

The déjà vu between Marcos and Maduro is not that much of a déjà vu, however.

Maduro is digging in, with the military, as of this writing, not yet abandoning him.  Their generals, after all, were well taken care of.  It’s the people who are not.

And while America in the Philippines had its bases yet in 1986 with its influence bordering on interventionism, decades of Chavez and Maduro in Venezuela have largely crippled American influence in this oil and gas rich country.

How will POTUS Donald deal with Maduro?  He cannot send a senator with a message to “cut clean” to a virtual dictator who has cut all diplomatic ties with the US of A. Maduro’s foreign minister has denounced the US before the United Nations as having initiated a “coup” against his sovereign state.  

Will POTUS send planeloads of Marines, or even bomb the hell out of the Venezuelan capital?

Who blinks first?

* * *

In the case of Trump’s firewall against Mexico and the rest of Central America, Speaker Nancy Pelosi refused to be cowed by the Presidnt’s harrumphs and tweets.

So to break the longest budget impasse in American history, Trump blinked and accepted a temporary fix.  Federal employees, after all, had suffered enough—five weeks of no salaries.

But Trump’s blinking had its downside.  His white, isolationist, some regard as racist electoral constituency now labels him a “wimp”, the kind of derision once attached only to the previous Republican president, George W. Bush, the Junior—not the respected Senior who died recently.

Well, you can’t win them all.  But in the case of Donald Trump, it looks like a lose-lose situation as the Year of the Pig enters.

* * *

Despite accusations by Mayor Sayadi of Cotabato City that many of her constituents had been coerced or intimidated and unable to vote “No,” the Bangsamoro Organic Law has been overwhelmingly ratified except in Isabela City.

What the previous Congress under President Benigno Aquino III failed to pass after the Mamasapano carnage—whose third anniversary we commemorated with continuing grief over the wasted lives of 44 SAF commandos—has now come to fruition under the leadership of Rodrigo Duterte.

We can only hope and pray that this would be the beginning of lasting peace in Mindanao and the entire country.  Stability and order in Muslim Mindanao is the key to its own economic prosperity, with its resources largely undeveloped.

It is one big step towards alleviating the poverty of the poorest region in the country. With economic development and poverty alleviation come true justice and true democratic order.

* * *

I received this in my mail from Doc Willie Ong, who is running for the Senate, and I will excerpt some of it:

“For my campaign I have decided not to ask for any monetary donations. Yes, we have seen how the system works and I don’t want to be caught in a deadly trap.

“My goal is not just to win but to win cleanly…we must fix our BROKEN system of elections if there is to be hope for our country…it is no wonder our country is in this sorry state.

 “People will say (that) you cannot win without spending lots of money. Then so be it. Nothing is impossible with God.  At least I have kept my conscience and soul intact, and I have fought the good fight”.

Doc Willie has joined the 2019 Senate race to dedicate himself for the “millions of sick and poor Filipinos” and to “bring (focus) on health back to the people”.

He ends with an appeal for readers to spread the word. “No donations are needed.”

Amen to that.  Doc Willie Ong, whom I do not even follow in his quite amazing free medical and health advice over social media, has earned my vote.

 Our political system and our electoral system both suck.

I have devoted several previous columns on this declaration about our broken system, our democracy that is all form and little substance, and I wish to God that our President in the remainder of his term does come around to revising our present Constitution.

Even without setting up a federal government, just fixing a “party-less” idiocy and making public office truly a public trust instead of a family business is enough for starters.

Topics: Lito Banayo , Who blinks first , Venezuela , Nicolas Maduro , President Ferdinand Marcos
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