Divide and rule
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - March 24, 2019 - 12:00am

I happened to catch the end of a sit-com recently. As the show ended, guest-discussants were acknowledged and thanked. They were “experts” in military affairs and governance, although their names were new to me. No offense intended here. To be sure not to derogate them, I am keeping their names and the show that featured them. But, truth to tell, I lamented I wasn’t able to see the start of the program.

The military experts-cum-socio-political scientists pointed to the so-called “divide and rule” as a Maoist strategy of seizing control over a community initially and eventually the government. I’m not sure if they referred to the Red Book of Mao Tse Tung but they talked about this strategy in relation to elections.

Honestly, I couldn’t help but relate their discussion to what I saw locally. Several days ago, President Rodrigo Duterte came to Cebu to proclaim the candidates for senator of PDP-Laban. His marching order was for those who helped him win in 2016 to also vote for his senatorial bets Along the way, he also put his fingers in local politics whenever he felt it was convenient. That’s what I discerned when he raised the hands of local politicians as his administration’s bets.

In Mandaue City, he threw his support behind the group headed by Congressman Jonas Cortes. The endorsement can probably tip the scale in favor of Cortes, Glen Bercede, and company in the elections because it meant that the great hordes of presidential believers should back the candidacy of Cortes and his partymates.

Last Thursday, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte visited Cebu. As we are told, she is the head of a regional political party in Davao City. She came to Cebu to endorse certain bets for senator. While I wrote in an earlier column that endorsing senatorial candidates was but a convenient cover to her unannounced agendum of campaigning for president in 2022 (whew!), she came as the presidential daughter. That label alone was bigger than her position in a hitherto unknown Hugpong. In Mandaue City, she announced her support for Mayor Luigi Quisumbing, Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna, and their council slate.

I tend to believe in how political observers assay politics in Mandaue City. The competition is a close fight considering first that the membership of the city council is almost dead even and each of these councilors possess decisive following. Second, I am told the number of incumbent barangay captains is, as of the present, also split almost right down the middle. Both Cortes and Quisumbing are great leaders who can count on massive support. As of today, there is no clearly leading mayoralty candidate in Mandaue. Of course, the president knows this. He cannot afford to appear to favor one because his choice might lose. That is why he threw in Mayor Sara. The president rides on the division of the city’s leadership and after elections, rules with whoever wins. If Cortes wins, Duterte can claim credit. After all, Duterte raised Cortes’ hand. If Quisumbing wins, a Duterte can likewise declare the Duterte support as the winning factor.

I have cited the political scene of Mandaue City as an example because of its proximity to us. But the situation there is true in many parts of the country. Is it wrong for me to declare we have Mao Tse Tung’s divide and rule in application? aa.piramide@gmail.com

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