I WAS startled when presidential candidate Francisco Domagoso (aka “Isko Moreno”) stated in a recent TV interview that he does not look unfavorably at “political turncoatism,” which refers to a politician’s defecting to another camp to advance his personal ambitions.
Domagoso even expounded his view in some detail: “Basta ako ang loyalty ko sa tao. Kapakinabangan ng tao ang mahalaga sa akin, hindi kapakinabangan ng pulitiko. Kung mabuti ka at tinupad mo ang sinabi mo, sasamahan kita. Pero kung hindi ka totoo sa sarili mo at sa tao, hindi ako para maging tapat sa ‘yo dahil ang katapatan ko, sa taong bayan (My loyalty lies with the people. It only matters to me if it’s advantageous to people, not for politicians. If you are good and you fulfill your promises, then I’ll join you. But if you are not true to yourself and the people, it’s not imperative for me to remain loyal to you because my loyalty lies with my countrymen),” he explained.
I was surprised at his statements because just two days before he said those, an old source of mine, very well connected in political and business circles and usually reliable, called me out of the blue, excited to reveal something to me.
He said: “It’s done. The Americans are desperate that they’ll offer Isko big, big money for him to withdraw his candidacy and support Leni Robredo. With some manipulation of the polls, Leni’s rating will be made to appear to move up and with Isko’s throwing his support for her, the Americans think they can create a bandwagon effect, enough to conceal the massive cheating they’ll do, as they did in 2015 for Leni.”
Isko’s explanation why turncoatism isn’t really bad is what he will say when he withdraws from the race and supports Robredo, that it is for the good of the people.
“Lacson, of course, could also be more easily persuaded to do an ‘Isko,’ as everyone knows he’s running not to win but as they say, ‘for the funds of it,'” my friend claimed.
I asked: How big is “big money”? “How much is an F-35?” he rhetorically asked, referring to the US’ most advanced fighter jet that has been flying over Chinese-held reefs to challenge that superpower’s claim.
I googled that. An F-354 costs $80 million. Looks small, but in pesos, that’s huge: P4 billion. A man who some say is deep in debt in tens of millions of pesos because of his gambling habit, will overnight become a billionaire. He can even stash away a billion, put it in good investments and he’ll have a war chest for the 2028 presidential elections, when he will be only 53 years old.
The Americans will not even rely on government audited funds. Run as private foundations, US entities using the excuse that they are championing human rights and a free press, such as the National Endowment for Democracy and Omidyar Network, have given so far $50 million to Philippine media outfits such as Rappler, Vera Files and the Center For Media Freedom and Responsibility and other “NGOs” to demonize Duterte since 2016. The Americans don’t need these traitors if it gets to install Leni Robredo — clearly the most pro-American and anti-China candidate — as president and, therefore, can bankroll that F-35 amount.
The American plan is not flawless. The latest polls I’ve seen show Isko getting 12 percent; Leni, 15 percent; and Lacson, 6 percent. Even if Isko and Lacson withdraw and manage to convince their followers to instead vote for Leni, her total votes would just be 33 percent, which is only half of the 62 percent voting for Marcos. And that would even depend on whether their followers will vote for Leni — and not Marcos.
However, other than disqualifying Marcos from running, which seems to be unlikely, Isko’s turncoatism is the only plan the Americans think has the chance of stopping a Marcos 2nd presidency.
What gives my source’s claim some credibility is the fact that never since the Vietnam War ended in 1975 has the US desperately needed a pro-American Philippine president as it does now. Bongbong Marcos will likely at the very least follow Duterte’s foreign policy of having China and US at an equidistant length from us. Marcos also, of course, knows how the US betrayed his father — abducting him to Hawaii and undertaking a “kangaroo court” there that portrayed him as a murderous dictator. But he doesn’t seem to have that Aquino trait of vengefulness and he’s too realistic to make the US an outright enemy.
The Americans had a heyday here when they got to put President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd in power, who was not only so servile to the US, but so unintelligent that he was easily maneuvered into adopting a very hostile stance against China, our biggest trading partner, to the point of filing the first suit ever (even if it was only an arbitration) against that superpower.
Even as it prodded and maneuvered Aquino to be belligerent to China, the US frightened him so easily after he lost Scarborough Shoal in 2012 that he agreed in 2013 to enter into the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the Americans, which is essentially a new version of the Military Bases Agreement that the Senate ended in 1992. The Americans scared Aquino and his officials into buying the argument that such basing agreement would facilitate US defense of the Philippines in case China attacks it.
That EDCA is nothing but a basing agreement in fact was demonstrated only recently with the US announcing that it will be stationing troops in Bulgaria and Romania so its forces could more quickly come to Ukraine’s aid if Russia invades that country. The treaties Bulgaria and Romania signed in 2006 and 2005 that allow American troops to be in these two countries made up the template for our EDCA.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s detestation of the US has demonstrated how crucial it is for US interests that a Philippine president be pro-American. Duterte’s “shelving” of the arbitration award in the suit against China knocked the wind out of the sails of that US propaganda project against the Chinese. He has also developed the Philippines-China economic and diplomatic relationship so much that the US has been practically put in the sidelines.
The Americans fear that an anti-US Philippine president will end the EDCA, which can be done at the whim of the president since it is a mere executive agreement that was signed only by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and the US ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg.
Recent developments have further emphasized how crucial it is that a Philippine president be pro-American.
The US appears to be convinced that China will be moving soon to take over Taiwan and there are suspicions that that superpower and Russia are coordinating their moves to make President Joe Biden’s head spin. Russia’s “tasking” involves its invasion — or a pretended invasion — of Ukraine, or just the occupation of the southernmost territories bordering Russia, occupied by two separatist states, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.
The sum of P4 billion to retain EDCA would be a bargain. Only the smallest country in Asean, Singapore, is a staunch US ally in the region that it would be difficult for the US to put up a charade that Asean countries are demanding that it militarily defend Taiwan.
The May election doesn’t just involve candidates’ different views on how this nation should be run and their real qualifications.
The contest is between nationalists who want the country to continue Duterte’s path of liberation from the American eagle’s claws on the one hand and US lackeys who want it to remain a neo-colony.
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