"This would seem to be the political fate of the world boxing champion."
Today we mark the “Ides” of March.
It was, or so the ancients chronicled, the day when Julius Caesar’s dream of empire was lost, his corpus bleeding to death in the halls of SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus or Senate and the People of Rome).
Portentous events happen during the middle of March, or so the superstitious say, just as the Chinese never start anything, be it moving to an office or house, or starting a business venture, on the seventh month of the lunar calendar.
Days before the ides, teasers from the president about Sen. Bong Go, his faithful assistant, running for president to succeed him were floated. Tagline “Continuity”, the supporters of the idea stressed, with memes and Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. posts inundating the virtual atmosphere.
Then in a conference in Cagayan de Oro two Sundays back, the president introduced his favorite senator as “Presidente”, goading the latter to stand up and wave to the crowd.
Two days after, results of a mysteriously designed rider question to a supposed Pulse Asia mid-February research appeared from nowhere. I qualify with that supposition because pollsters will neither confirm nor deny if such is their handiwork, unless they themselves publicize the survey results.
That survey on the prospects of a Bong Go-PRRD tandem leading the pack with 32 points nationwide was followed by a queer match-up or mix-up of presidential and vice-presidential contenders. After the “continuity tandem”, there is a Grace Poe-Tito Sotto team-up. But isn’t it supposed to be a Ping-Tito tandem?
Next was a Bongbong Marcos-Manny Pacquiao match-up. But aren’t both in the running for president in 2022, and nothing but?
Then there is a Ping-Isko. Would the mayor of the nation’s capital forego six more years as mayor for the ceremonial post of vice-president?
And last in the mix-up of that alleged Pulse Asia research was Leni Robredo and Kiko Pangilinan. But isn’t Leni going back to her Bicol roots, and Kiko running for re-election?
The day after, the bigwigs of the PDP-Laban in Cebu call upon the president to heed the clamor—run for vice-president. And right after, with the Energy Secretary and vice chairman of PDP, Al Cusi in attendance at a caucus, Metro Manila chapter leaders echoed Cebu’s.
While the survey with the laughable match-ups preceded the PDP caucuses, then came a Dumaguete City trip where the president in a speech again told the crowd that Senator Bong was just a bit shy about self-proclamation so he would say it himself: His assistant of 21 years turned senator wants to be the next president of the country.
A visibly embarrassed Senator Bong said the President must have been joking, although qualifying that he might consider running, but IF and only IF, the president mismo would be his running mate. Hashtag “continuity”.
But what about the Pacman, the party president proclaimed by Koko Pimentel last December 3? Where is he in the picture now?
Did the PDP in Cebu and some in Metro Manila consult him about their clamor for the president to run for vice? In a presser last Friday, he said the caucuses were unauthorized by the party leadership. And he warned Sec. Cusi “not to toy with him.”
Ah, but did he, or Senator Koko consult the President (who just happens to be the party chairman) when the Pacman was installed as president of the new, re-invigorated PDP? Why, even the PDP stalwarts in the Senate, Bato de la Rosa, Francis Tolentino and Bong Go were caught by surprise when they just read about the Pacman’s party presidency in the news. “Nagpasintabi man lang ba?”
So now President Duterte’s loyalists pull the rug from under the Pacman’s feet. Party president for a hundred days would seem to be the fate of the world champion.
But there is an episode to the impending short shelf life of the PDP president that we will reveal here as well. The boxing hero was in a one-on-one huddle with PRRD at the palace beside the river Pasig, on Wednesday, March 3.
A palace birdie told this writer, later confirmed by someone in the Pacman’s inner circle, that the president advised the Pacman to tame his ambitions, and lower his political sights for 2022. In short as the Tagalogs would say, “pahinog ka muna sa Senado.”
Still, the source from the Pacman camp proudly said: “tuloy-tuloy na kami” on their march to Malacanang in 2022, with Freddie Aguilar’s re-lyricized Bayan Ko anthem as background to their “heavenly” quest.
So who “owns” PDP now? Senator Koko, who earlier abdicated, wryly comments that it is too early to talk politics. Best to concentrate on the pandemic and have the public vaccinated first.
Sabi na nga ba ni Isko Moreno: “Vaccine Nation is the solution,” worn in a T-shirt from spruced-up Divisoria. And now the Pacman chides Al Cusi, to “help” the public rather than create divisiveness in the party.
Would Alan Peter Cayetano’s staunch defender Mike Defensor likewise chide the PDP’s newly-minted executive vice-president, Inday Sara loyalist Speaker Lord Velasco, and say their new president, like the emperor in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale, “has no clothes.”
Never mind, the Pacman with his fabled billions can always buy a new party, or splinter the PDP.
And to complement the new party he will put up, Madame Jinkee could bring him to Hermes for a new cravat and to Brioni for a new suit, to look even more “presidential”.
Try Milano’s Bigi for your neckties, or even Fiesole’s Stefano Ricci, and instead of Roma’s Brioni, try Kiton of Napoli.
President Duterte and Senator Bong Go wear strictly locally made clothing, though not bought in Divi but tailored by Mimi Pimentel (no relation to Sen. Koko).