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[The Breakdown] MARCOS-DUTERTE IN 2022?

By Pablo Joaquín

With the recent announcement of Lakas-CMD supporting Mayor Sara Duterte’s Presidential candidacy, the prospect of a Marcos-Duterte tandem running for 2022 is now more possible than many would otherwise think. While I hope I’m wrong, I really do, there is a case to be made for arriving at such conjecture.

Last May 29, Sen. Imee Marcos and Bongbong Marcos met with Mayor Sara to, supposedly, greet her personally on her birthday. It was during this time that rumors regarding a possible tandem between the Ilocos and Davao royalties began to circulate on social media.

Soon after, last June 18, Sen. Imee Marcos and Bongbong Marcos met President Gloria Arroyo, Pampanga Rep. Mikee Arroyo, and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez (also a cousin of both Marcoses) in the Arroyo’s La Vista Residence.

Six days after that meeting, on June 23, Lakas-CMD President Rep. Romualdez announced their party’s support for Mayor Sara’s Presidential candidacy. While the Presidential daughter is yet to formally announce her national candidacy, the influx of pro-Duterte campaign assets being distributed and urging her to run has been nothing short of overwhelming. As early as last year, paraphernalia promoting Sara Duterte has surfaced and only grew more popular in different regions. From the Northern lands of Luzon to Mindanao’s southern cities, tarpaulin plastered with Mayor Sara’s name could be seen in every corner.

It is then because of the chronology and close proximity of the events mentioned that suggests that, possibly, it was in these meetings that this tandem was brokered by no less than Former Pres. Gloria Arroyo – who also has strong ties with Lakas-CMD and the Duterte administration.

With the upcoming 2022 elections on the horizon, reports of the proliferation of troll farms and fake news networks have surfaced more frequently – operations intended to manipulate the online conversation for the benefit of certain political interests. Because of how vastly entrenched these troll armies are in our country’s discourses, the messaging trends in social media often are a great way to read between the lines and understand the current political climate.

It is then no surprise that, if one is to observe the social media pages of the Duterte camp, it’s glaring that the content produced inexplicitly suggests the possible alliance of the two dynasties. The idea of a Duterte-Marcos tandem is insidiously floated through posts, bot-comments, and online PubMats – all coming from social media pages that’s religiously followed by the duo’s supporters.

It is additionally in the same pages as well that Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who’s also rumored to run for the Presidency, is often attacked and trolled; a trend that may be the result of Pacquiao and Duterte bumping heads due to the two’s presidential ambitions. Because of this episode, it then leaves one to ask: why invest in only attacking Pacquiao when Bongbong Marcos is also supposedly running? If the Duterte-Marcos tandem is true, then maybe there is logic behind withholding digital-punches from the Marcoses (and vice versa).

This tandem makes sense for the both of them. Geographically, it could flank the country’s votes by uniting Marcos’ Solid North and Duterte’s Solid South. The possible tandem could also avoid a disastrous splitting of each other’s votes given that both camps share the same voter demographic – most especially since the Pacman is also in the mix.

As a result, it may be because of these alarming political developments that prompted the Liberal Party (and the opposition at large) to reconsider its options for 2022. According to LP President Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, there are current efforts from their camp to reach out to several possible presidential candidates outside of their traditional allies; with Senators Panfilo Lacson and Mayor Isko Moreno – both which are also heavily rumored to gun for a higher national office – being some of those tapped for said reconsideration.

Additionally, LP Senior Sen. Franklin Drilon, while maintaining that Vice President Leni Robredo remains to be their top choice for Malacañan, has said in an interview that he and his LP is open to discussing support for other alternatives like Yorme Isko Moreno and even the Senator from GenSan himself, Manny Pacquiao. This position may be the result of VP Robredo’s slim chances (as the surveys may suggest) against the Marcos-Duterte powerhouse, which may be the reason why VP Robredo is yet to announce her candidacy.

While Sara Duterte’s camp (or at least her followers) might be campaigning for her to be the President, it could also be possible for her to slide down to running for VP instead to accommodate Marcos in the tandem and to avoid the backlash that may ensue due to her quasi-inheritance of the Presidency from her father – a scenario that the larger political community has vocally opposed, opposition or otherwise. Running for VP might be more easy to swallow for the Filipino public than a sequel to her father’s administration.

Nevertheless, while the tandem is still speculation up to this point, the fact remains: the opposition needs to prepare for such a scenario, especially with how divided they remain in their own house. A Marcos-Duterte tandem, especially with their combined popularity, could spell a dark chapter in the opposition’s future.

2022 won’t be like any other election our country’s had in the past. We currently face a global pandemic, an economic recession, an unprecedented environmental crisis, a Chinese incursion of our sovereignty, and a political industrial complex that could be the greatest threat to our republic since 1986. Will another Marcos or Duterte be the one to lead us through these crises? Who knows, only the Everyday Filipino can answer that.

But one thing’s for sure: Democracy is only as good as its electorate.

Pablo Joaquín is a writer, music producer, decorated debate coach, humanitarian, and a political development strategist. He was the youngest to have ever worked for the United Nations Philippines and formerly the head coach of the San Beda Debate Team and the national chairperson of the Students Rights and Welfare Philippines (STRAW PH).

He is a political contributor for Now You Know PH and an arts & lifestyle writer for Canto Philippines. Currently working for a political consultancy, he is also finishing his undergraduate degree in Development Studies, Minor in Sports Studies in De La Salle University - Manila under a Junior Debate Scholarship.

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