THE latest PulseAsia survey on the May 22 national elections, and similar published and unpublished polls, very strongly point to the next administration being made up of any of these teams:
– President Sara Duterte-Carpio (24 percent in that poll) and vice president (VP) Rodrigo Duterte (14 percent for that post);
– President Sara and vice president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (12 percent for VP in the poll);
– President Marcos (14 percent) and vice president Sara; and
– Either president Marcos or president Sara and vice president Duterte.
I used the term “team” as any combination would mean a president and a vice president that could work as partners in pushing the country forward in stark contrast to the situation since 2016 in which the vice president, Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, has been blocking all of President Duterte’s initiatives even to the extent of blackening the country’s image in the world just because he is its leader.
I am discounting Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto 3rd to be the next vice president, even if he landed first, with a high 25 percent, in the Pulse Asia poll. I think that was a fluke as he has never appeared in any previous survey to be a “vice presidentiable.”
His high rating is likely because of two factors. First, Sotto with Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson announced with much televised coverage their candidacies on September 8, just in time for Pulse Asia’s polling period from September 6 to11. While there has been a lot of talk of Duterte running for vice president, he hadn’t actually announced it, much less with theatrics, during the survey period, doing so only on September 23.
This means it is likely that not a few respondents were not aware Duterte was really running for vice president. It may not even have crossed many Filipinos’ minds that a president can run as vice president in the next elections and, as in actual elections, Filipinos don’t like to feel that they would just be wasting their votes.
Second, Sotto as Senate president has been high-profile this month in the Yellow senators’ campaign accusing the administration of massive irregularities in the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) against Covid-19. Indeed, Blue Ribbon Committee investigations have traditionally been a platform for senators to portray themselves as crusaders against corruption and therefore fit to be president or vice president.
It is still Duterte who will be determining which team would be the winning one since his endorsement has remained immensely powerful, unless the Yellow senators can prove in the few months before the Senate adjourns for the Christmas holidays that he was involved in the alleged PPE purchasing anomalies.
He will be choosing either his daughter Sara or Bongbong, who has been supportive of him and shares his political views.
Sara, most polls and objective analysts think, is a sure winner — and she hasn’t even started campaigning.
Not only is she a lawyer with 15 years’ experience in local governance as Davao City mayor or vice mayor, she has developed the charisma of a strong, incorruptible leader — a female and younger version of her father. Throw in the gender card as well as her fetching looks and she’s a shoo-in for the presidency.
There are two things that could be going against the certainty of a Sara presidency.
First, she has said that she’s not interested in running for the presidency. That may be political tactics, which her father actually did in the 2016 elections, only announcing his bid when he replaced an obscure party candidate for that post at the very deadline to do so. But then, she’s only 43 and may really be angling for the presidency not in this election but in 2028.
Second, there are persistent rumors that she and Duterte do not really see eye to eye, a classic case of the strong-willed child unwilling to be under the father’s shadow. Many in Duterte’s inner circle also do not trust her, pointing out that when she became mayor in 2010, she fired nearly all of her father’s officials and built up her own circle of loyal officials.
Sara therefore might not be a candidate after all, or Duterte may not really trust her as his political heir, in which case he would likely choose Marcos.
But then as that old adage goes, blood is thicker than water, she’s the sure winner and Duterte can’t take the risk of having an opposition win. We would have a Sara-Rodrigo administration or maybe even a Sara-Bongbong one.
In that latter scenario, Marcos will just be 71 years old when Sara’s term ends in 2028, and if he becomes a pillar of her administration, would be a shoo-in for the presidency at that time. Seventy-one isn’t really that old: Duterte was 71 when he became president and he certainly has done a lot for the country in just five years. Bongbong, however, reportedly thinks next year’s election is his last chance for the presidency.
What would be earth-shaking is for Duterte to choose Marcos. This means the complete reversal of the Yellow regime that had three presidents and a second “Ferdinand Marcos” as president, something totally inconceivable only several years ago. That would drive the ivory tower residents of UP and Ateneo insane and probably induce them to jump off to their deaths from their towers.
That scenario would mean Bongbong will be president and Sara his vice president, with the latter becoming president in 2028. This means a political continuity of a Duterte kind of administration for at least 18 years.
But then, a Sara presidency is a more certain bet at this time, and after six years, a successor to the “Duterte line” may emerge.
Continuity of leadership — for decades — is something this country certainly needs. Look at our neighbors that have developed, and the single common feature they share has been a long period of one-party or one-man rule so reform strategies are implemented and not changed every six years — Singapore’s People’s Action Party’s which has continuously ruled for 62 years, Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party’s 38-year rule, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir’s 24 years and Korea President Park Chung-Hee’s 16 years. In our case, since 1986, we have had a president every six years, each of whom has a totally different idea of what the country needs to develop.
But then Marcos had 13 years of one-man rule, didn’t he, and it didn’t work for us?
He should have stepped down in 1978, accepted his mortality at the onset of this kidney disease, when the economy was on a growth path, averaging a remarkable six percent average gross domestic product growth since 1972 and turned the reins of power to a successor. History doesn’t always turn out the way we want.