DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Sept) — Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has dismissed speculations she’s planning to run for the Senate seat in next year’s midterm elections. Her body language, however, in the past few months suggested that President Rodrigo Duterte’s political heir apparent is cooking up something other than running for reelection (as city mayor). For, if reelection is her only plan, it sounds illogical why she needs to go through the trouble of forming Hugpong ng Pagbabago and coalescing with other local and national parties.
This developed after the coup in the House of Representatives that saw the ouster of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker and his replacement by former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. By organizing Hugpong which has drawn recruits and turncoats from the Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-LABAN) and supporting Arroyo’s ascent to the House leadership, Duterte-Carpio – granting she acted on her own and not at the prodding of her father, President Rodrigo Duterte – has changed the complexion of the 2019 and 2022 elections.
Of all people, it’s Duterte-Carpio herself who has castrated PDP-LABAN, her father’s vehicle to Malacanang in the 2016 elections, and made it a non-factor in the upcoming political battles. In addition, she has aligned with the Marcos camp, a move that hews to the President’s pronouncement that should he resign, he prefers either Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos or Senator Chiz Escudero to be his successor instead of Vice President Leni Robredo even if this isn’t possible under the Constitution.
The astute politician that he is, it has dawned on Duterte that he’s beginning to lose a firm hold on power that he’s now reaching out to other strong contenders. Arroyo and her supporters now hold key positions in the House. The drive for federalism has failed to gain traction, not even among his economic managers who were candid enough to admit that it will drain the national coffers. He has sensed rumblings within the security sector, and his nervous side showed when he teasingly told the military that they may oust him if they wanted to; he wasn’t joking but hinting that he’s not standing on terra firma.
Amidst all these developments, Duterte continues to paint himself as cold Teflon undeterred by criticisms on his dictatorial ways, mishandling of the territorial row with China, absence of a clear economic program on top of the “Build, Build, Build” mantra, among other major policy matters.
But the cracks, which may have widened with the fiasco caused by the apparent vindictiveness in revoking the amnesty of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV in relation to the Oakwood Mutiny in 2003, are showing. Thus Duterte is pinning his hopes for a trouble-free transition to 2022 on Hugpong’s alliance with Arroyo, the Marcoses and other bigwigs. He knows he could not fully trust these personalities, but as often said, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” After all, a favorable outcome of Bongbong Marcos’ election protest against Robredo could lead to a tandem between the former senator and the Davao City mayor come 2022 if she runs and wins as senator in 2019. That’s why between now and the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy, nothing is yet cast in stone. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)