LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By Jun Ledesma, Columnist, Philippines News Agency
Quo vadis Koko, Pacman?
THE surveys done by Pulse Asia and the Social Weather Station had been consistent. Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte had been leading the surveys. Atty. Howard Calleja, a convenor of 1Sambayan that had imploded before it can take off is still hoping the rating of the presidential daughter will diminish in time.
The camp of Leni Robredo considers the VP rating of 6% a respectable number as against the Davao Mayor’s 28%. Well, hope springs eternal. After all, wasn’t it that former Vice Pres. Jejomar Binay was leading every contender by the mile in surveys done long before the Presidential derby in 2016? In juxtaposition, will Inday Sarah suffer the same fate as VP Binay?
The 2016 polls were characterized by a frenzy for change. The nation had tried two Aquino administrations that had placed the country into stagnation. A Binay presidency offered a better alternative to the Aquino-anointed Mar Roxas. But he was hounded later by a magma of corruption issues.
Then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s name would crop up even as he was not on the list. When his name was finally included he promptly overtook Miriam Santiago and Mar Roxas. But Digong was a reluctant candidate. He was peddling a Federal form of government but in each forum where he spoke, the audience was not interested in Federalism but urged him to run for President instead. I have personally seen the crowd swelling each time he speaks. In one of these, a forum of Asian Executives, one of the attendees even kneeled and begged him to run for President.
Duterte’s image as a crime-buster was legendary. Something which the other presidential wannabes, Binay included, do not have. If the captains of industries were enchanted by him, so do the common people who identify with him as he speaks their language which oftentimes is spiced with expletives.
Every politician has a natural wish to land for a higher position. Even with the good showing in surveys, however, Duterte was reluctant. Moreover, his federalism crusade drew and grew by the thousands exhorting him to run for President. The man from the boondocks became the most bankable man for President. Financial offers were clandestinely made but Duterte rejected them. He cannot be lured into running.
Blame it to the other affluent presidential wannabes for conducting surveys every so often. The results of the latest survey leaked and landed in the hands of Duterte. He “conquered” Metro Manila. The results showed he won in all cities and towns except in Makati. But even in the turf of Binay, the gap did not matter. It’s only a problem of how to be a candidate for President. He has filed his certificate of candidacy for Mayor. By that time PDP-Laban Presidential bet, Martin Dino was informed by the Commission on Elections that he might be disqualified and be declared a nuisance candidate for not having the wherewithals to run a campaign. This allowed Duterte to substitute for him. The rest is history. In retrospect, the 2016 election outcome confirmed the survey figures.
Inday Sara row against Speaker Bebot Alvarez, a party mate of President Duterte, demonstrated the independence and true grit of the lady mayor. The Speaker made the mistake of charging that Hugpong Ng Pagbabago which Inday Sara just organized is an opposition party, an absurdity which the Mayor did not let pass. PRRD had warned Alvarez to be careful with his daughter who he described as the “Alpha” in the family. The feud did not last long and ended with the fourth most powerful man in the country jettisoned from his post. But the more significant matter that evolved in that incident is the rise and influence of the regional parties. The confluence of the regional parties behind HnP in the ouster of Alvarez is a phenomenon in Philippine politics that grew even stronger as they move along with traditional political parties which now come together in an alliance that supports Mayor Inday Sara Duterte as their common presidential candidate.
This gives Mayor Inday Sara a bigger and formidable foundation devoutly wished by 1Sambayan and Liberal Party among others. Koko Pimentel is pushing Manny Pacquiao the Presidential bet of PDP-Laban even croaking that sweat and blood were invested in the making of the party which was founded by his late father, Sen. Nene Pimentel. While the latter is true, it was actually the late Jesus “Chito” Ayala, of Davao City who nurtured PDP-Laban to be a viable party organization. Those who invested sweat and blood are actually the Davao boys … Rodrigo Duterte, among them.
But who cares? Inday Sara had emphatically declared that she is not joining PDP-Laban but will stay through thick and thin with HnP. Furthermore, she said, she will not run for President if her father runs for Vice President. In short, she will not be dictated by the outcome of the PDP-Laban general assembly. So quo vadis Pimentel and Pacquiao? Remember blood is thicker than water. It’s no-brainer, the number one campaign manager of Inday Sara will be her proud father, the one whose Trust and Approval ratings are unprecedented worldwide.