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Opinion

Blood is always thicker

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

Coinciding with Easter Sunday observance, Senator Panfilo Lacson along side with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales chose to jointly announce yesterday individual resolve to seek their respective presidential bids. Sen.Manny Pacquiao who admitted having organized this flew in late back to Manila from GenSan City where he spent the Holy Week. His fellow three presidential bets proceeded to hold their joint press conference to reiterate their common, solemn vow to ensure honest, orderly and peaceful elections on May 9.

President Rodrigo Duterte has not declared whether he will endorse any one yet to be his administration’s presidential standard-bearer. Earlier on, President Duterte has repeatedly declared he will stay “neutral” in the on-going presidential derby. The President, however, also keeps his options open by adding the caveat: “if there will be compelling reason” for him to endorse a presidential candidate.

On Holy Tuesday, President Duterte finally revealed what would be this “compelling reason” for him to cast his lot to a presidential candidate. Speaking at the regional meeting of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for Region XIII held in Butuan City, Agusan del Sur, President Duterte admitted this in mixed Tagalog, Visayan dialect and English: “As I said before, I will not support any presidential candidate. But if there is a compelling reason to campaign or to endorse a particular candidate because I don’t want — not because of personal— except that I do not want the communists who are joining them (presidential camp) right now.” The Chief Executive further warned without finishing his dreadful thoughts: “It’s dangerous because once they are there, if they win, then the government would be ripe…”

He did not identify the particular presidential camp he fears that the pro-communists groups have already embedded themselves. The President though has steadfastly been campaigning against the re-election bids to the next Congress of the five party-list group representatives belonging to the “Makabayan bloc.” He collectively branded them as the “legal fronts” of the Communists Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The five party list in the “Makabayan bloc,” namely, Kabataan; Anak-pawis; Bayan Muna; ACT (Alliance of Concerned Teachers); and, Gabriela, are also the same ones previously identified by the NTF-ELCAC as “left-leaning” groups. All five party list groups, however, vehemently denied this allegation as nothing but “red-tagging” by the NTF-ELCAC.

“No, we are — ah red-tagging ito na kung ano-ano. Huwag ka nang maraming istorya. Komunista talaga kayo,” the President fumed in the same NTF-ELCAC gathering. As the Commander-in-chief, the President disclosed, he is very aware of how their CPP leaders have been “living it off and wallowed” in wealth and sending their children to schools in the US and in Europe. All funds gathered all over the Philippines from business companies and government projects and aids, the President charged, were raised by the CPP’s armed components, the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who extort monies for them.

With such “compelling reason,” the President vows to thwart the communists’ getting into power right inside Malacañang.

President Duterte, however, reassured his audience the NTF-ELCAC have been able to maintain the government’s presence in various barangays and other areas around the country that have been cleared by the military from communist insurgents.

“You know, I am winding up my activities as President, but there are things which I have kept — hindi naman secret but confidential o hindi ko masabi kasi ganito-ganito. So ngayon ilabas ko na lahat, tutal paalis na rin ako. And with it is my caveat na sana ganito lang, o mas lalong tataas ang buhay ng Pilipino,” the President waxed sentimental.

The outgoing President further echoed aloud his wish to whoever is eventually elected to become the next leader of the country: “I hope that this — the next, the incoming administration will look at all the works we have done.”

The presidential attacks against the “Makabayan bloc” erupted anew and is escalating after these party-list groups formally endorsed the tandem of Vice President (VP) Leni Robredo running as independent for President with Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan as her vice presidential runningmate.

Incidentally, the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who is the VP candidate of ex-sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (BBM), are currently the front-running tandem in all pre-election surveys. The BBM-Sara UniTeam have been leading by more than 50% based in pre-election mock polls.

“Hindi kami nag-uusap pero, of course, I support my daughter,” he quipped.

However, the Leni-Kiko tandem have lately seemingly been picking up its pace in the most recent surveys. With less than a month left of the official campaign period, the trend remains the same, that is, if we are to believe such survey results.

With his approval rating still in the double-digit going into the last three months of his term, the endorsement of the 77-year old leader is crucial to a presidential candidate who wishes to seal a more certain victory than just rely on survey results.

Once he decides to endorse a presidential candidate for his daughter, outgoing President Duterte must wage an all out campaign to his anointed successor in office at Malacañang Palace. Because if he does not, he faces the same fate of his three immediate predecessors being sued in courts as soon as their presidential immunity is over.

To borrow the favorite campaign line of “Inday Sara” – as she is fondly called by her father: “Blood is always thicker than water.” Mayor Sara quotes this popular idiom to tease feuding half-brothers ex-Senators Jinggoy Estrada and JV Ejercito. She cracks this as a joke whenever she is caught in the middle of the campaign stage with the two sons of former president Joseph Estrada who were both included in her Senate line-up in 2016 mid-term polls. By the way, ex-pres. Estrada turns 85 years old tomorrow.

ISKO MORENO

PANFILO LACSON

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