Shortly after Isko Moreno is elected President of Aksyon Demokratiko (AD), many known political personalities are slowly expressing their support behind the embattled Manila mayor. Cavite governor Jonvic Remulla was first to defend the Mayor from President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s scathing attack against Moreno’s previous past as a showbiz personality. This was followed by the announcement of Samira Gutoc, a former Duterte supporter turned adversary, as a member of the party’s executive board. Today, former Senator JV Ejercito had expressed his support behind Moreno.
Is Moreno really throwing his hat unto the presidential derby? Seems it is. The entry of Gutoc, a senatorial candidate of Otso Diretso by the Liberal Party in 2019, is a sign that several or possibly even most anti-Duterte forces who do not associate themselves with the Left, may be exploring ways of joining Aksyon Demokratiko. The question that everyone is asking— what happens now to 1Sambayan– the coalition formed by mostly members of the previous Aquino dispensation composed of elements of the Liberal Party, the leftist moderate Akbayan and the rightist group, the Magdalo? Will the dream of a unified opposition force against Duterte be realized still?
Vice President Leni Robredo reveals that she is in constant touch with Aksyon Demokratiko president Moreno yet at the same time, also talking with Senator Manny Pacquiao Jr. Pacquiao and Senator Kiko Pimentel were recently ousted by a clique within their party PDP-Laban as officials. There is no indication yet as to the plans of the Pacquiao-Pimentel group, but several political pundits say, it is entirely possible for this clique to file a case before the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) questioning the moves of Alfonso Cusi and Melvin Matibag, another clique reportedly close to party president Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Should this happens, the PDP-Laban will surely be affected, because those given by the Cusi-Matibag of nomination letters, would have to surrender those worthless pieces of paper and abide by the decision of Pimentel-Pacquiao whose party statures were already validated by the Comelec since 2018.
Even before Robredo’s announcement, Senate president Vicente “Tito” Sotto III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) already told the press of his discussions with Pacquiao. The fact is, Pacquiao’s closest associate, Narvacan mayor Chavit Singson is already with Sotto as NPC member. Sotto believes that Pacquiao will just settle for a Senate comeback, a possibility yes, but still not entirely certain, according to Ron Munsayac, spokesperson of the Pimentel clique. Munsayac indicated the clique’s desire to question the assembly held by the Cusi-Matibag group that led to the expulsion of Pimentel and Pacquiao as party officials. Cusi says that many of the party want Pacquiao ousted as member after a group named People’s Champ Movement reportedly appeared, in yet another sign that the people’s champ Pacquiao is really dead serious in his ambition to run and win as the country’s president (Never mind if his survey ratings are single-digits).
Among these political parties, it may appear that the NPC and Reporma, now being headed by Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson as the only political group with a specific agenda and clear mission of snatching the 2022 elections for themselves. Lacson had reiterated that he has no reason to back out, and same goes with Sotto.
The oddity in our political situation now is that the NPC is also one of seven political parties under the Hugpong coalition chaired by no less than Presidential daughter Sara Duterte. The fact is, an NPC member by the person of Senator Sherwin Gatchalian wants nothing more than be anointed as vice presidential buddy of Davao mayor Sara Duterte. Of course, Gatchalian’s expression of desire is probably just a political ruse to heat up the campaign for his senate comeback. This goes also to Lakas-NUCD members Martin Romualdez and Gilbert Teodoro, who is probably running for a Senate seat. Everyone knows in Congress that Romualdez is coming back and is desirous to replace Alan Lourd Velasco as House Speaker.
Anyway, it is clear as day that the administration is really pushing for a Sara Duterte tandem with former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Marcos is consistently either second or third to Sara Duterte depending on what survey one sees. And among these presidentiables, it is Bongbong who is in a precarious situation.
Bongbong is a member of the Nacionalista Party, the party allied with Hugpong. It appears though that Bongbong Marcos is being seen as a threat by a palace clique, the one led by Senator Bong Go. Go’s clique is desirous to coalesce with the Sara Duterte group, but efforts are going nowhere. Sara, sources say, hate Go’s guts and reportedly perceives the senator as a usurper.
This friction between Sara and Bong Go is preventing the administration from fielding a specific tandem. To force Sara’s hand, Go’s allies within PDP-Laban floated the idea of a Go-Duterte tandem, a possible smokescreen as alleged by Munsayac, for a Duterte-Duterte tandem, eventually. Several high officials of the PDP-laban and that includes a Vice President in the Visayas already scoffed at this idea, even branding it as “immoral.” Another proof that this Go-Duterte is just a caper is from Go himself who announced in a media interview that he does not want to run and will just abide by the decision of the Duterte family.
I am in the opinion that after the political dust had settled, the administration may field either a Sara Duterte-BBM or BBM-Duterte tandem. As I shared in a previous post, a Go-Duterte is a catastrophic teamup. President Duterte’s numbers are slowly going south and the possibility of Go once again using Duterte’s popularity to propel this ill-fated tandem to victory is either nil or at most, of the smallest chance or possibility. Go will squeeze every once of Duterte’s popularity to its nadir and will still lose. Of course, our President will never agree on losing to Sotto for the vice presidential race, and I am absolutely sure that Sotto will not allow himself to lose this chance of clinching the second highest post of the land.
Go’s chances of becoming president? Nil. In the event that this Go-Duterte tandem will become official thru the PDP-Laban, Go’s unpopularity will surface and will eventually lead to his defeat. And in case, Go really wins, the possibility of a civil war looms as hundreds of groups and millions of voters will surely chart an unconstitutional route just to stop Go from assuming the presidential seat.
Same goes, I think, with a Sara Duterte-Bong Go tandem. Go will surely pull Sara Duterte down with him. Though Sara Duterte’s numbers are encouraging now according to the polls, yet, such numbers will surely change the minute the political dust dissipates and voters are faced with clear slates.
So, there. Both the administration and the so-called opposition are facing extreme difficulties finding the right combination that will appeal to voters. And among the possible winnable combinations seem to point to a Robredo-Moreno or Moreno-Pacquiao tandem. Of course, it is now clear that such configurations entail such risks, one of them, the loss of a member of the 1Sambayan coalition in the person of the Magdalo Party. The Magdalo, thru Trillanes, already drew the red line–they will only support a Robredo presidency–no less. Will Moreno be ready to become a Laurel in this scenario? Or possibly, a Robredo-Pacquiao Jr tandem that shows Moreno only serving as endorser. This is ideal.
Or, these parties may all the more assume the risk and let Magdalo go ostensibly in the name of a unified opposition ticket. Basing on what is happening right now, the chances of not fielding a unified opposition looms. However, there is still that possibility of the administration is fielding just one tandem, with the risk of alienating the administration party, PDP-Laban, whose main actors had already expressed their opposition on these administration proposals. We are now faced with the prospect of both the administration and opposition cancelling themselves out in the finals, and eventually leading to a win by a third force, in the person of Lacson-Sotto. Such a win will destroy political futures, especially of Moreno, whose stint as Manila mayor is now under threat.
Aksyon Demokratiko may field only their own, this possibility is there, just to test the waters. Of course, that decision is also very risky, considering that it may sideline Moreno once more for three years. Same goes with Pacquiao–if he fails to find a political party machinery for his run for the presidency, he might also become a political victim of substantial consequence.