Political warfare

SKETCHES - Ana Marie Pamintuan - The Philippine Star

The battle lines are being drawn between the feuding camps in the (dis)UniTeam. Will it lead to something good for Juan and Juana de la Cruz?

Former president Rodrigo Duterte, who is leading the charge against the other camp, recently pulled back from his frontal attack on President Marcos. But Duterte has since agreed to sit as estate administrator of his BFF, Apollo Quiboloy. The pastor, through his Sonshine Media Network International that his camp claims he has dropped, has incurred the ire of the Marcos camp.  

 What this development means exactly remains to be seen. The pastor’s lawyer Ferdinand Topacio said Duterte would take on duties related to the “management, stewardship and preservation” of the properties of Quiboloy’s Kingdom of Jesus Christ “as a juridical entity existing under Philippine laws.”

Does this mean that with Duterte as administrator, the vast Quiboloy properties will be untouchable, protected from freeze orders and confiscation by the state?

 This seems unlikely, considering the mood in the ruling camp. The administration seems ready to hand over Quiboloy to US authorities as soon as a request is made, and Duterte to the International Criminal Court. Even if the ICC has not conducted a formal investigation in the Philippines, by most accounts, ICC probers have been proceeding with their investigation of the drug killings, with Duterte as the principal respondent.

 Equally important for the Marcos camp is that the ICC probe includes Duterte’s daughter Vice President Sara along with Oplan Tokhang’s architect and chief enforcer, police chief-turned-senator Ronald dela Rosa.

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These days VP Sara is still designated as government caretaker as President Marcos continues to indulge his jetsetting at taxpayers’ (huge) expense. 

That video message Inday Sara released last week, however, claiming black propaganda and an intensifying “organized demolition job” against her, is the latest indication of trouble in the 2022 winning team. Already the turbulence is triggering political realignments as the 2025 midterm elections approach. 

To bolster her claim of a demolition job, Inday Sara cited the “attacks” on her massive confidential funds along with her putting together a security team for the Office of the VP to rival the Presidential Security Command. She also cited the emergence of a self-styled witness (unreliable, says Panfilo Lacson) who accused her of having a direct hand in the activities of the Davao Death Squad, plus “malicious” reports about her guns and even her relations with her husband. For good measure, she tossed in that viral video of traffic along Commonwealth Avenue being stopped by an enforcer allegedly to allow her convoy to pass.

Most people, myself included, were unaware of Marites stories about her marital relations until she mentioned it in her message. As for that viral traffic video, I watched it a few times and I think the reference to her convoy was due mainly to miscommunication. (Like the VP, however, people are still waiting for authorities to clarify whose convoy it was that merited stopping traffic along that busy avenue.)

The other issues the VP raised in her video have been openly attributed, either by Inday Sara herself or her supporters, to her principal nemesis, Speaker Martin Romualdez and his minions.

 In Australia where BBM fumbled in his interview with journalist Sarah Ferguson on ABC network, the Speaker was again with the presidential entourage. So perhaps those stories about BBM starting to see his favorite cousin as a political liability are nothing but black propaganda, or wishful thinking by certain quarters.

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What’s clear is that the Vice President is hurting. Why she posted the video at this time is the subject of much speculation.

 The video projects an image of an underdog, which often resonates with the masses. Such imagery is useful during elections. But 2028 is still four years away, and Inday Sara has clarified that she does not intend to step down as VP to run for another post in 2025.

 Another subject of much speculation is what we can expect next as the VP pushes back against her detractors both real and imagined, with support from her father and brothers.

The former president has shown that when he opens his mouth, the nation still listens. Even without SMNI. With the vast assets of Apollo Quiboloy now under his supervision, how much damage can Rodrigo Duterte do to the administration, before he is tossed to the ICC? 

VP Sara herself, as secretary of education, can prevent historical revisionism, and even enlighten the youth about what happened during the first Marcos regime.

Already we’re seeing certain Duterte supporters reviving issues about the Marcos dictatorship, from large-scale corruption and ill-gotten wealth to gross human rights violations. 

The secretary of education can also promote tax awareness among the youth – how value-added and excise taxes effectively make every Filipino a taxpayer, with the right to demand honest and efficient governance, and how estate taxes must be paid by one and all.

All this could be wishful thinking on the part of those who hope something good might come out of the ongoing political warfare.

On the other hand, that warfare has already led to P650 million being reallocated from confidential funds to agencies that deserve the appropriation. And if the education secretary moves to promote historical accuracy, she can be booted out of the Cabinet, and replaced with someone with better credentials to confront the nation’s education crisis.

If political warfare is the quickest way to achieve reforms, by all means, the adversaries can go ahead and lunge at each other’s throat.

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