Are all pro-Duterte also pro-Marcos?
FROM FAR AND NEAR - Ruben Almendras (The Freeman) - January 9, 2018 - 12:00am

The recent news of the Marcos offer to return part of the plundered wealth and the Court of Appeals denial of the $2 billion claim of the victims of martial law, brings to the fore again the relationship of the Duterte government and the Marcoses. The long title of this column is "Are all pro-Duterte pro-Marcos and are all pro-Marcos pro-Duterte?" This is a very interesting question to analyze and answer, and derive some implications in the Philippine political scenario now and in coming years. For the present administration and opposition, it makes for a better definition of their constituency. In the future, it will mean the judgment of history and the legacy of the martial law years and that of the current government.

In view of the alliance of the Duterte camp with the Marcoses, the positive statements of Duterte about the Marcoses, including the burial in the Libingan, the exoneration of the Marcos children from the acts of the parents, the campaign contributions of Imee and many others, it would seem that most of the pro-Duterte will also be pro-Marcos. But based on the surveys on the performance of the Duterte government and other peripheral issues, this is not necessarily so. While the core 15 percent of Marcos loyalists always support all Duterte policies and programs, the core of Duterte supporters are divided on the Marcos issue. Excluding martial law victims who would be anti-Marcos even if they are pro-Duterte, there is the divided middle who voted for and still support Duterte but are not sold on the Marcos story. In the last election, this was validated by the win of VP Robredo even if the bandwagon effect of a Duterte win was already palpable a month before the election. This means that there were a lot of Duterte-Robredo voters. In the surveys on the extra judicial killings, the disbelief on the "nanlaban" line of the police, the belief that only the poor drug users are being killed, and the predominant desire of the respondents that the drug suspects should be taken alive, shows that even those who support the Duterte government are averse to the number of those killed in the drug campaign which reminds them also of the number of those who died during the martial law years. There is no equivalence in the Duterte and the Marcos constituency both in numbers and in social classes.

On the second part of the question, "Are All Pro-Marcos Pro-Duterte?" I would say that this is true with 90 percent of this constituency. The 10 percent are likely the disgruntled allies in the Ilocos and western Leyte. Most of the Marcos loyalist will align with whoever will be favorable to their cause, which is more than what we can say of some of the incumbent elected officials who jumped to another party at the slightest shift of the wind.

The 2019 and 2022 elections will be crucial for the Marcoses' comeback strategy for power and the judgment of history. The initiatives of changing the narrative during the Marcos years, the political alliances, and the offer to return part of the plundered wealth are part of the strategy. While I had contended in previous columns that some of these have unintended consequences which may not be favorable to them, the 2019 and the 2022 elections will validate the strategy. Aside from holding on to their elective positions in the local governments, it is very likely that either Imee or Bongbong will run for senator and has to win to keep the strategy going.

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