"With the pandemic as backdrop, and the wobbly economy as the new normal, the 2022 polls will be terra incognita for the traditional politicians."
Or so it seems. And for how long?
The world has changed considerably due to the pandemic. “Considerably” is in fact an understated description.
Beach parties for which Bora has become well known all over the world, aside from the powder-like sands of Boracay, are not likely to come back for the next two years. A more sedate, relaxed atmosphere will prevail in our country’s foremost party place, as tourists slowly return.
I heard Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat say over a TV interview that hotels were well booked for the Holy Week, until the surge and the resulting ECQ came around. She was hoping Baguio and Boracay would have enough domestic travelers to perk up the moribund tourism industry, but the resurgence dashed her hopes.
We all envy Israel, whose vaccination program achieved herd immunity quicker than any other country, and whose citizens have now begun to swarm the beaches of Tel-Aviv and Haifa. But then again, they may truly be the “chosen people”.
In Thailand, they want to achieve herd immunity in Phuket, and open it up to tourists who have also been vaccinated, but the infection numbers have likewise increased, after a year of properly controlling the numbers. Sadly in the Philippines, we never really got to control the numbers, from the start of the Wuhan virus as 2020 came in, and till now when we breached the million mark.
Vaccines are slow in coming, with the world’s largest laboratory, India, becoming the new epicenter of the pandemic. Rio de Janeiro in Brazil will never be the same again, and even the Mardi Gras in their winter will be subdued for at least the next three years, maybe more.
Having been in the tourism sector before, as head of the Philippine Tourism Authority, now TIEZA after Sen. Dick Gordon’s Tourism Act during the term of President GMA, it pains me to write about the abnormal new normal that faces the sector in the years to come.
Looking forward, the tourism sector needs to reinvent.
The party’s over, or so it seems, for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, if the senators have their way. But then again, the 2021 budget is done, and 2022 will matter little, even if Congress dries up the funding. Little happens during an election year, and after May, a new leadership will be ushered in, one that may redefine policies.
By then, Gen. Parlade will have retired from the military service, and even if drafted into an immediate civilian post, the clout will no longer be the same. Sorry for them, but the community pantry rained on their parade because of his and his Lorraine Badoy’s ill-tempered red-hunt at a time when people are desperate for food and sustenance.
They should have been prescient enough to foresee that pantries like Maginhawa and its lookalikes cannot be sustained for long in such a manner. Dr. Ted Herbosa was right after all, but the decent person that he is, he immediately resigned as EVP of the state university when he was roundly misunderstood for saying that even community pantries must be regulated at a time like this.
But because the NTF-ELCAC spokespersons could not restrain their loud mouths, they prolonged the pantry party, at the expense of their red-hunting party.
On the political front, the party is also over for the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino, soon to sunder into different power blocs, the Bong Go wing, the Sara Duterte and Hugpong take-over, and whatever will be left of the Pacman wing.
The Pacman and his eager beavers thought they had bought the plum political flag of convenience as 2020 ended, and in haste and with little respect, failed to consult, much less inform, the President of the Republic, who only happens to be the PDP chair.
In this country and under the system foisted by the 1987 Constitution, personalities drive parties, and not the other way around. So the Pacman would have “driven” the PDP for his presidential ambitions, but then forgot that there is yet a real owner, who in 2016 converted a pedicab into a bus, and won the presidency.
Since then, the bus has become a considerably big fleet of turncoats. Now it is time to turn their coats again, depending on who the players will be for 2022.
Will Inday Sara run? Will Senator BG get the President to be his running-mate? Upon these questions lie the answer as to when the Pacman’s balloon will be pricked.
But then again, for someone who believes he is pre-ordained by the celestials, nothing can really stop the Pacman, with or without a party.
2022 will be an election like no other in our contemporary history. With the pandemic as backdrop, and the wobbly economy as the new normal, it will be terra incognita for the traditional politicians.
And maybe that is for the better. Maybe, hopefully, our politics will evolve for the better.