2020– a crucial year for the Philippine state

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2020 and beyond is what I describes as a transition period where the old guards of Philippine politics and even of Big Business will give their diadems to their anointed.  We are seeing and experiencing the transition as I write this, as old politicians and old tycoons succumb to Father Time while others are claimed by illnesses and diseases. Even politicians who were strongmen during their prime, are now transitioning to other more competitive endeavors.

By 2020, we face a dire dilemma– we enter into the fourth year of the Duterte Administration under an aging septuagenarian who confessed to be suffering from innumerable physical illnesses. While we don’t really know for sure how frequent, but we had been previously informed by no less than the Presidential spokesperson and even his closest confidante, Senator Bong Go, that this president needs “ample time to rest”, and the Palace even gave a hint as to how long— he is to stay in Davao for longer periods of time now, thrice a week, as a way for his physical body to sustain or cope with the rigors of his work.

While many scoff at this, and even brush this aside, but this has serious implications not just on national security but on the entire government as well. With a president on prolonged rest, surely, one should not erase the possibility of “other forces” influencing the conduct or direction of national policies.  Malacanan had already designated Executive secretary Medialdea as the “official caretaker” of government many times, which means that a person aside from the President is managing the affairs of the state–for longer periods of time. But isn’t this unfair to us, the voting public?

We voted for Duterte, not for Medialdea or an undersecretary with a surname of Quintain or another one by the monicker of “Matet” to run this government. If this is the case, then, what prevents us from just creating a council of the best minds of this country–surely that would actually be better than allowing just one to dictate the way this country is being run?

2020 is a year most critical for all of us– not just for Duterte’s minions. The countdown begins at January which just means that this administration will only and legally administer the Philippine state for one year and a half. By November of 2021, the political fireworks will officially begin with the filing of certificates of candidacy. From that moment forward, government would remain at the standstill, with most agencies unable to enter into contracts, etal.

Months before November and we will begin to see who among the following personalities salivate for the presidency:

  1. Sara Duterte— one hint that she will pursue a presidential run is when Mr. Duterte appoints General Danao as the next chief of the Philippine National Police. I’ll explain later.
  2. Senator Bong Go— for all you know, Senator Go has already formed his own political force composed of many local government executives, and bureaucratic heavyweights. He is also being supported by big business. Go is China’s surety bond.  China has to protect its humongous investments here, especially those in relation to the Silk Road initiative. China has invested quite heavily not just on financial and economic terms but moreso, on the political. Some insiders believe Go is Duterte’s bet for the presidency, since Sara reportedly does exercise her independence of mind which on several occasions, run counter with her father’s.
  3. Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano— he is running for sure. Like his predecessors, Cayetano thinks that the best route to the presidency is thru a strong political network, which, unfortunately for him, history has not been kind to former speakers like him, and that began with the idealist Ramon Mitra which rubbed off to both tradpols Jose de Venecia Jr. and Manny Villar.
  4. Senator Manny Pacquiao— yes, the eight time world champion is thinking of joining the ring. However, I don’t want to frustrate him, but I think he is still underaged by 2022.
  5. Manila mayor Isko Moreno— many, and that includes industrialist Ricky Razon and several retired generals are batting for Moreno as the next Duterte. Surveys upon surveys show Moreno getting higher than average trust and popularity ratings. That 2014 senatorial run which saw him on the losers’ row may just be a test run on how far and how possible public acceptance of him for a higher national post. Seems like he is really being groomed for president and the possibility is there. However, Moreno may opt not to and instead gun for a second or even third term as Manila mayor. The 2022 presidential derby is riddled with unknown political dangers and one decisive error might just spoil the broth for Moreno.
  6. Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson— he is voicing out the right prescriptions and boy does that appeal to the middle class. By this time, he, like Duterte, will be at his seventies, yet unlike Duterte, Lacson is definitely much stronger, wiser and more gutsy than the former Mayor of Davao.  2022 is Ping’s last shot. Whether or not he will take it depends where the political winds will blow. As they say, the presidency is destiny. Looking at Ping, he is destined to be great.
  7. Vice President Leni Robredo— many are hoping that Robredo throws her hat unto the ring but many also think that she would probably lose than win if Sara or even Cynthia Villar toss theirs.
  8. Senator Cynthia Villar— the number one senator of the 2016 elections is probably thinking that she, of all contenders, have a big chance of clinging it because of her highly efficient political machinery. Most local and gubernatorial officials right now are allied with, in one way or another, with her Nacionalista Party. Without a strong Liberal party to contend with, it seems that the old Nationalista is headed towards the Pasig river mansion. The thing is, it is still fresh in the minds of voters, how the “Villar brand” suffered extreme brutality and defeat during the 2010 elections. Yes, the public may show signs of having short memories, but presidential defeats are way too difficult to erase from the public minds that easily. No one among those who lost a presidential elections managed to climb their way to electoral victory after. Plus, the Villars are now the richest couple in Philippine history. It is inconceivable really for the big boys of Manila not to campaign for her defeat in the polls, seeing that the Villars are now the group to beat in the business arena.
  9. Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.— yes, he will probably accept his defeat during the 2016 elections but what probably inspired his group to reconsider and recoup was the firm showing of her sister, Imee Marcos Manotoc in her senatorial run. The Marcos camp thinks they already have a blockbuster team to gun for the top plum by 2022. The thing is, whatever they think or not, the fact remains that defeat is something that they always now have to consider when they count their chances as the political scenario will not be entirely be favorable to their camp. They will have to contend with two major headaches— fighting their own political allies in the Duterte camp and engaging with staunchly anti-Marcos forces which, unfortunately even infected the youth ranks. The hyper active organizing being undertaken by activists and church leaders today, most or all are anti-Marcos, would bear fruit by 2022, the minute these youngsters troop to the poll as legitimate voters. Marcos will again suffer defeat and this time, permanently should he instinctively throw his hat unto the ring once more. The Marcos camp must remember that the only thing that would most probably contribute towards sure victory is when they do the right thing–offer penance and do goodly work even beyond 2022. By 2028, the times are right for another Marcos comeback.

Many of these personalities will try to hug the headlines and dominate the public sphere, what with their projects, achievements and what not. The thing that most observers forgot is the lesson or message the voting public wants to convey on the previous presidential derby— the public is looking for someone with a stronger vision, a stronger will and at the same time, a charismatic persona to lead the country.

They are dead tired of traditional politicians. Yes, tradpols still dominate local politics but at the national level, they want someone who will not flinch an inch before any pressure coming from Big Business and will always articulate the popular thinking the way Mr. Duterte does it. The public is looking seriously at someone raised similarly in the mold of Duterte but clearly not as crass and not as immoral as him.

The public wants a president who understands gut-related and community-level issues such as injustice, drug addiction, the issue on food, the issue on income and jobs, etal. These daily mundane struggles are always at the forefront of every family’s discussion unlike in the olden days when families include some ideological talk on the table.

The Filipino public want someone who would kill for them, protect them from abusive cops and soldiers, shield them from unscrupulous bureaucrats and even petty government employees, provide a level playing field insofar as business is concerned and create a nurturing environment for those with entrepreneurial spirits and those who want to just work, raise families and maintain healthy lifestyles.

The discussions is not about which is supreme– a democratic liberal philosophy or a tyranny– but regardless of “isms” which among these “isms” will provide the immediate solutions to a myriad of problems caused by this parasitic capitalist system upon the people. This is not anymore the “gentleness” shown by Liberals or the “oratorical” skills of Nacionalistas. The election is about who can provide the people with all of these environmental improvements towards individualistic or familial growth.

What does this tell us?

First, expect fragmentations among the Duterte ranks. Bad politics will kill this administration sooner than later. The varying interests of these leaders among Duterte’s trusted circle will surely lead to political fragmentation as these groups would try to protect their interests during post-Duterte era.

Second, the heterogeneity of the presidential and political scene will create another minority president. Minority presidents are a bane for weak democracies like us because such presidents are surely at the mercy of more entrenched political forces. Half of the productive part of the presidential term will be spent shoring up political support and doing so decreases the effectivity of a president as an unbiased leader. Even if we succeed in electing a strong political leader, the fact remains that he will likely succumb to the games the Big Boys play all because of fears of being a victim of destabilization by political forces which play proxies for Big Business.

Third, the chaotic scenario will weaken the state politically causing geopolitical powers to intercept or intervene at play.  China will surely move to protect its interests in the Philippines. Losing the Philippines is not a thing which the Communist Party of China (CPC) considers, and this is not at all something which the US State department is not privy of.

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