I thought it was our worst nightmare when the MAD (Marcos-Arroyo-Duterte) dynasties formalized its alliance the other week with the political marriage of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio for president and vice president in the 2022 May Elections arranged by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo shortly after another wedding in Cavite.
I didn’t realize the worst was yet to come.
The three political families that were responsible for 35 lost years for the country was joined by another powerful political family that caused the loss of three more years in the country’s political and economic development. Last week, the Estrada clan, led by its patriarch former President Joseph Estrada, joined the MAD alliance with the formal signing of a coalition agreement to support the candidacies of Bongbong and Sara.
The coalition was sealed on Thursday when their parties, Arroyo’s Lakas – Christian Muslim Democrats, Duterte-Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago, Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino and the Marcos-led Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, inked an alliance agreement at the Sofitel Plaza Manila in Pasay City.
Marcos said the coalition would bring back stability in politics and the country, adding that the interest of the Philippines was the “driving force” behind the parties teaming up.
What stability? History tells us that the total of 38 years under the Marcos, Arroyo, Estrada and Duterte administration were the most unstable years in the country’s political history. Those years were characterized by outright lies and deception, unparalleled corruption, rampant violation of human rights, accumulation of debts now totaling trillions of dollars that future generations of Filipinos would have to pay, lack of transparency and accountability in government, and subservience to China.
And we thought that with the earlier coalition of the Marcos-Duterte tandem, the political drama that has gripped the country for months would be over. But no, President Rodrigo Duterte, irked that he was not consulted even by his own daughter in the forming of the tandem, which actually did not surprise many Filipinos as it was expected from the get-go, prodded his alter-ego, Senator Bong Go, to substitute for Senator Bato de la Rosa and run for president under the PDP-Laban party.
It was an obvious move to spite Marcos and, at the same time, give him leverage for possible bargaining with Bongbong in case he would be forced to support him for president. And to top it all, Duterte said nasty things about Marcos, claiming that the latter used cocaine and was a “weak leader” whose only claim to fame is being the son of the late dictator.
To all these, Marcos kept his cool and his silence, perhaps confident of the fact that the President would eventually mend fences with him when his emotions settle down.
And so the drama continues. Now it seems Duterte and his allies are headed to what we expected all along – a coalition with the Marcoses to solidify the so-called Solid North and the Solid South, and with the Arroyos for the Central Luzon votes and the Estradas for the Metro Manila votes.
After meeting with several PDP-Laban lawmakers and calling on them to support Bong Go for president and Sara for vice president, he and Go met with the governors last week, where Go said he would most probably withdraw his COC for president because “it was not yet his time.”
Duterte said he would talk to Go to convince him to pursue the presidency, but said that if he fails to do so, he would just remain “neutral,” which obviously is another of his many lies and deception. With so much at stake, like a probable indictment before the International Criminal Court and investigation of several questionable deals and unsolved murders during his administration, we all know he would never go “neutral.”
Marcos, through his spokesman, said he was open to a dialogue with the President. I’m sure they are already negotiating through back channels at this time, and an announcement would be made before the start of the formal campaign in February.
It’s not far-fetched to surmise that Duterte would ask for protection for himself and his allies and cronies, and demand the Senate presidency in case Marcos prevails and he wins in his Senate bid. With Arroyo, who is running unopposed in Pampanga for reelection as congresswoman, almost certain to reclaim the House Speakership in a Marcos administration, the country would have members of the MAD alliance as the top four government officials – Bongbong Marcos as president, Sara Duterte-Carpio as vice president, Rodrigo Duterte as Senate President, and Gloris Macapagal-Arroyo as House Speaker.
In any case, many things can still happen in this never-ending drama unfolding before our eyes. I won’t be surprised if other fragile coalitions break up before Election Day and new coalitions formed for political exigencies.
That’s the problem with the multi-party system spawned by the 1987 Constitution. So many political parties that were formed based on personalities rather than principles and platform of government have emerged in the political scene. And many more are added as new politicians aspire for higher positions of power. And because many of these political parties ands politicians have only their personal interests to protect, they join coalitions not based on principles or platform, but based on which coalition would bring them more votes.
Hopefully, the 1Sambayan coalition that has elected to support the tandem of Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Francis Pangilinan wouldn’t coalesce with political parties that are not willing to undo the wrongdoings of the Duterte administration.
More than ever, Filipinos would have to choose carefully the people that they want to lead the country in the next six years. We cannot afford to lose another six years.