Sara Duterte-Gibo Teodoro tandem? Or Sara-BBM?

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A crying Senator Bong Go told a crowd at Antipolo of plans to take him out as a vice presidential candidate and to be substituted by another. Without specifically mentioning names, Go says his plan to run for the vice presidency “and serve the people” will definitely go to naught because of how “dirty” politics is. He is probably referring to the withdrawal of Sara Duterte as a candidate for the mayoral post in Davao and her possible run for the presidential post.

The question that everyone is asking is this–will Sara serve as the vice presidential candidate of former senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Junior who runs for the presidency? Will Sara become a member of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) and then be nominated either for the post of president (that will then pave the way for Senator Bato dela Rosa to gave way) or Vice President? Presidential legal adviser Salvador Panelo gave a hint that Sara Duterte is a “puzzler” and a “sphinx” who is sure to rise from the ashes (ala Sphinx) and don her presidential cap that Dela Rosa says is the only one that Sara is ready to give her time up.

If Sara is running for president, what becomes of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Junior who is already the frontrunner in the surveys for the presidentiables? Will he give way to Sara as intimated by Senator Imee Marcos? What then becomes of the enormous investment Mr. Marcos had poured in his presidential run that, according to his supporters, is going very smoothly and is generating enough heat to justify a possible win against Vice President Leni Robredo?

The thing is, many groups have found a way for the Commission on Elections to disqualify Mr. Marcos Junior because the ex senator lied in his Certificate of Candidacy. By not telling the truth on his real status as a citizen and by putting an “x” in the “No” box that asks him if there is any case filed against him, Mr. Marcos is said to have signed his political death sentence. Never mind if Mr. Marcos did not serve any incarceration, the fact is, by declaring that no case had been filed against him when in fact there is, is ipso facto, a material misrepresentation of his real status. Yes, the lower court found him in violation of not filing his tax returns, and yes it was appealed to the Court of Appeals who found the facts true but nonetheless, erased the penalty of incarceration unto its final decision and by accepting the appealed decision, eventually found Mr. Marcos guilty by final judgment. Never mind if Mr. Marcos evaded jail time–the question that he answered in that CoC which he erroneously answered in the negative is simply a query whether a case had been filed against him or not.

That simple mistake brought the entire house down with Mr. Marcos Junior. Even if he wins the count come May 2022 as a president, Mr. Marcos Junior will always be haunted by this case whether or not the Courts favored him. This has put a damper in his political ambitions and in fact, threw the entire administration camp in utter disarray and sudden death situation. With Mr. Marcos Junior’s fate hangs, what is there to accept but the possible win of Mrs. Robredo?

A presidential election without Mr. Marcos Junior will pit Robredo against an Isko, a Lacson or a Pacquiao. Robredo is the only rose among thorns and Filipino voters love and have always sided with the underdog. Hence, the only saving grace for the political associates of this administration is to convince Ms.Sara Duterte to a political contest with Mrs. Robredo.

The thing is–Sara had repeatedly told the public, and not just her political associates that she is desirous for a third term as Davao City mayor. If Sara does file for a substitution, it would be for Senator Bato dela Rosa, the PDP-Laban presidential bet who recently met Sara to remind him that she probably have until November 15 to shake things up and get the baton from him.

That leaves the possibility of a Sara Duterte-Bong Go–a possibility that is not viable anymore given the revelation by Bong Go himself that his run for the vice presidency is definitely going to change in the next few days. That just means that he is being substituted. The question is–by whom?

Dela Rosa and Salvador Panelo both hinted that if Sara does indeed change her mind and run for a national post, it would surely be for the presidency and no other. The question remains–if Bato dela Rosa and Panelo are both correct, then, Sara is running against Mr. Marcos Junior. Mr. Marcos is already publicly committed of running for the presidency and  it appears that he is that dead serious. The thing is–is Mr. Marcos Junior prepared to take on Sara on a one-on-one duel? With both sharing the same constituency, Sara might win by a squeak against Mr. Marcos Junior. The only question left is–will that be enough for Sara to win against Robredo, given that the Vice President is slowly amassing political allies left and right from almost all regions in the country? IN this eventuality, I will bet on a Robredo win.

That probably would change if Bongbong Marcos Junior slides down and replaces Bong Go as Sara’s team mate. This act produces two effects: first, it would avoid a disqualification scenario for Mr. Marcos and second, the tandem with Mr. Marcos assures Mrs. Duterte-Carpio of easily dominating the balance of Luzon and possibly NCR to buttress her good standing in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The only question really is–in the event that Mr. Marcos substitutes for Mr. Go, does the Commission on Election then avoid ruling in the filed disqualification cases and therefore, allow Mr. Marcos to run scot-free?

I think Mr. Marcos Junior is to be asked to file an appeal for a substitution in which case, Bongbong will then have to sign a new CoC, this time marking the box that says yes in the question of whether or not a case is filed or has been filed against him. By truthfully answering the question, Mr. Marcos will then avoid being accused of materially misrepresenting his true status. The only remaining question is this— will the poll body then face another opportunity this time to adjudge whether to disqualify Mr. Marcos on account of the guilty verdict he got from the CA decision? No, obviously. The question is simply asking him if he has a pending case or has been adjudged guilty of a case. However, that is not the end of this. This will now be an occasion for the Comelec to rule whether the case filed against Mr. Marcos Junior is a case involving moral turpitude. That is the difference between the pending cases asking the Comelec to disallow the COC of Mr. Marcos on grounds of materially misrepresenting his status as a citizen and that of just deciding whether the case filed against Mr. Marcos for which he was found guilty of not filing his tax returns on time, constitutes a crime involving moral turpitude. In the filed cases now, there is no reason for the COMELEC to find Mr. Marcos liable for disqualification on account of the case filed against Mr. Marcos as being a case against moral turpitude or not. Mr. Marcos is sure to be disqualified only by merely considering what he put and what he swore as true in his COC.

The minute Mr. Marcos subs for Mr. Go, the ex senator will now have a chance to squeak pass the appeals for rejecting his COC because the substitution is for a post that is not the original one he so filed for in the first instance.

With Mr. Marcos Junior merely running for the vice presidency, whatever ruling the Comelec or the Supreme Court will dispense in the coming days or weeks will not have a serious effect compared say with a ruling that finds him ineligible as a presidential bet. A Sara Duterte-BBM tandem will surely be a tandem to beat and will give the RObrero-Kiko Pangilinan something to seriously consider worthy of laying everything down the line.

I do however disagree with Panelo’s analysis that if Sara runs, it is all kaput for the opposition. If Sara runs and does not team up with BBM, her chances of winning are slim. Yes, Sara remains the frontrunner but current surveys indicate that her ratings change. Some surveys now point to Mr. Marcos Junior as the frontrunner and findings can be interpreted in many ways. It may be that Mr. Marcos’ ratings went up because of Ms. Duterte repeated declarations of not interested in running. Or, those ratings went up naturally in favor of Mr. Marcos Junior. Notice however, that the surveys are tell tale signs of a weak or weakening Sara Duterte name because statistically speaking there is a three way tie for the presidency among Isko Moreno, Bongbong Marcos and Leni Robredo. If Sara does declare herself running, will this tie be broken and will reflect only a Sara Duterte lead? I sincerely doubt it given that Robredo is clearly winning the ground war as we speak.

So there. Let us see if Sara Duterte will gamble and will up the ante in this political poker game. Some say, Sara is just following an old script that people think led to Mr. Duterte’s win. As they say, someone may win using the old way but no two historical events are the same, according to Foucault.

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