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Friday, May 24, 2024

The unravelling

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“The 2025 elections, the positioning for which begins early next year, has become battleground for the war of 2028”

I was still out of the country when the news back home reported the second demotion of the former president from one of a gaggle of deputy speakers to just an ordinary member of the HoR.

Along with her second demotion was the stripping of the representative of Davao City’s 3rd district of the same “upper level” honorary title.

The first is political mentor of the vice-president whose unqualified support to the creation of a “Uni-team” gave the current leader both the votes of Mindanao and the Bisaya-speaking people, in short, fortress Duterte, to the scion of the Solid North.

The second is a loyalist of the Duterte family who has always triumphed in his Calinan and other highlands of Davao City with the support of the idolized family.

This development at the Batasan was followed by the vice-president’s statement that, finally, she was giving up on what the President’s budget proposed for her: 500 million in CIF entitlements for the OVP and another 150 million for the DepEd to which she was appointed by her 2022 political partner.

What the President proposed, she now asks the Senate to dispose of, finalmente, instead of discussing any further the merits of the House version which wrote their disapproval to the confidential fund requests.

This, despite earlier exposed attempts by some 10 senators who wanted in executive session to restore the entitlements which became too hot a potato for the country’s second highest leader.

In a previous column we wrote about the chance at moral high ground she missed when, in a Senate budget hearing, she chose not to defend her confidential funds and instead invoked the privilege of the legislature to give or not to give.

Had she given up the entitlements and forthwith requested that these be awarded to projects in the DepEd or the security agencies instead, the controversy could have been nipped in the bud.

Now the disavowal of entitlement is surrender to political reality rather than noblesse oblige, an act of further damage control to what was once impregnable public trust.

Her political enemies, or those who draw from the largesse of her yet too distant putative 2028 rival, smelled blood, and saw the drop in recent surveys as the perfect timing for their “kill” of her most trusted lieutenants in their midst.

The unity of “solid” North and “solid “South, as her friend and political ally calls it, has sundered. With that, the unravelling of the touted unity has reached crescendo level.

And the 2025 elections, the positioning for which begins early next year, has become battleground for the war of 2028.

Already, the then laughed-at Partido Federal has flexed muscles, with new turncoats paraded before the President, mismo, in the palace by the stinking river (with apologies to Ramon S. Ang who has singlehandedly and voluntarily been getting rid of the detritus that has swallowed our “Mutya ng Pasig”).

Turncoats from parties of yore, whether Lakas which the Speaker now heads and from which the former presidenta has been stripped even of honorary leadership, or the PDP which is chaired by no less than the immediate past presidente.

Already, a presidential team for the forthcoming Senate mid-terms is a-forming, led by the DILG secretary, Mandaluyong’s Benhur Abalos who swore in as a federalista, and either Cebuano-speaking Leyte’s congressman, Richard Gomez, or his wife, the lovely mayor of Ormoc.

Overtures are being made to those who pine for a “balik-senado” retro-fit, such as sure winner Vicente Sotto III, President Duterte’s senate president, along with non-PDP re-electionists.

All these developments bring me to a favorite advocacy: the overhaul of our bankrupt political system, where dynasties and turncoatism are not only de rigeur but de facto.

See how easy it has been for the vice-president to get her Mindanao bloc Hugpong ng Pagbabago swallowed by Lakas-NUCD when their “uni-team” was formed in late 2021 in the Revilla estate in Cavite’s highlands?

And how soon she ditched the same Lakas when her mentor was demoted by the Greek chorus in the HoR from senior honorarium to one of many deputies?

That demotion signaled the crack.

Now the decapitation of mentor and kababayan have shown how political alliances in this benighted land unravel too quickly and so soon, because the party does not exist.

Only the “leader” of the temporary alliances matter, because our political parties, as I keep repeating, are mere flags of convenience subsisting on the convenience of those who possess the power and the largesse.

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