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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Duterte’s candidates: Who is in and who is out?

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"We can expect more drama in the coming days."



There are only a few days left before the period for filing of Certificate of Candidacy for those running for the 2019 elections. Between now and Oct. 17, the deadline for filing CoCs, there will be movements in the Duterte Cabinet because those running will need to resign from their positions.

The shuffle has already began with the resignation from the presidential communications group of Mocha Uson a few days ago. Uson used the Senate deliberation for the PCOO budget to announce her resignation, milking it dry for media mileage. 

Playing the “victim” card, Uson blamed legislators for allegedly using her to block the communication office’s budget. It will be remembered that the House of Representatives required her presence to answer questions from lawmakers relative to the budget. She was a no-show despite assurances by her boss that she would attend. This prompted Rep. Prospero Pichay to say that the discussions on the PCOO budget would be deferred until the controversial assistant secretary showed up. 

The following day, Uson appeared before the Senate and resigned making it appear like she was making the ultimate sacrifice so the PCOO budget would pass scrutiny. Her resignation statement that she read during the Senate hearing (which, of course, enjoyed full media coverage) was also a statement of intent to run in the 2019 elections. She said in no uncertain terms that she will bring the “fight” to congress or Senate. 

Earlier on the same day, there were already reports that Uson was a nominee of ACTS OFW party list—he group of the beleaguered and controversial Rep. Aniceto Bertiz. This means that before resigning, Uson was already poised to run albeit under the party list system. 

Her drama in the Senate is unnecessary and had nothing to do with the PCOO budget. It was done for media mileage. After all, blaming legislators for allegedly blocking the budget was pure nonsense. Even PCOO Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy said so. The budget deliberation session is really the time for those in the Executive to answer questions from legislators about their budget. This is the reason why during these sessions, even the directors and staff of Executive offices are present. 

Uson simply refused to do her job, and used the opportunity for her political plans. Hers was an orchestrated propaganda to further her upcoming electoral candidacy, nothing more. I do not think that Uson was the brain of this gimmick. She is being propped up as one of this administration’s candidates. 

Apart from Uson, we are seeing signs that Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque is also on his way out. I have been told much earlier on that Roque had his eyes on the Senate. This I think is the reason why he has embraced his role as “presidential alibi-maker” fully and turned his back on whatever principles he had before. 

Unfortunately for him, recent statements from his boss seem to imply that he is not among the favored few after all. 

There were talks that President Duterte missed an event in Malacañang because he was brought to the hospital. Roque got “burned” when he insisted that Duterte was on “private time.” Duterte himself said that indeed, he went to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center where he had an endoscopy and colonoscopy. He also said that he would tell the nation if he has cancer, and that he would refuse treatment if it is already stage three.  

When sought by media for his reaction to the president’s statement the following day, Roque said that he was kept in the dark about the hospital visit. He even added that it would be hard for him to be effective as the President’s spokesperson if he does not know things. 

What made matters worse for Roque beyond the fact that he seemed out of the loop as regards Duterte’s health (at least the last hospital visit) was the president’s statement that he did not believe Roque would win if he were to run for the Senate. This is a big blow to the presidential spokesperson. If Duterte did not believe in him enough to become a senator, it becomes questionable if he would be among those Duterte would support. 

No wonder, when asked about his political plans, Roque said that he would need this weekend to think things through. He insinuated that he may have something for the media on Monday. 

Will he resign from his post given Duterte’s statement? If he does, will he still run for the Senate? If he pursues his candidacy, under which slate? Running as an independent candidate without the backing of a major political party is suicide. What are his options then?

Roque is in a difficult position. If he does not resign, he would appear as an outsider even if he is the presidential spokesperson. His credibility, or whatever is left of it will surely suffer further. If he resigns and decides to run and Duterte does not support him, his political career is over. 

On the other hand, he cannot go back to what and who he was before joining this government because he will no longer be trusted by former allies. Roque turned his back on the advocacies he once was involved in. It will be interesting to find out what his game plan would be. 

Uson and Roque are just two of those wanting to run in 2019. There are others and we can expect more drama in the coming days. Who is in and who is out? Surely, the opposition will not be left behind as they all prepare for 2019. Yes, the circus has come to town. 

@bethangsioco on Twitter                   

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