Getting desperate

TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - April 16, 2021 - 12:00am

It is now April 16. In just two weeks it will be May. And then it will be exactly a year before the May 2022 elections. As President Duterte said in his latest public address, those of his enemies who wish to see him dead will just have to pray harder. Because if Duterte would have his way, he would like to finish his term on his feet.

Duterte admitted having many ailments. But none of these, he swears, is of the type that can incapacitate him or otherwise render him unable to discharge his duties as president. And that is bad news to his enemies, who with one year to go have no option left except go back to resurrecting old and buried health issues they used to periodically challenge the 76-year-old president with.

If Duterte does not die between now and May 2022, Vice President Leni Robredo of the opposition cannot take over. And if Robredo cannot take over by way of constitutional succession, there is no way she can win the election in 2022 to become president either. If she won the vice presidency only by the skin of her teeth against a man carrying the Marcos name, how can she win a presidential race against anyone without similar baggage?

Robredo, because of her position, is the best placed among the opposition to make it to Malacañang. But since that is not going to happen for as long as Duterte stays on his feet, and she cannot win an election either unless it is against someone with the Marcos baggage, the best chance for the vice president, and for the opposition for that matter, is simply to just to pray harder.

Praying for the president's demise in office becomes more urgent and pressing for the opposition. With the approval and popularity ratings of the president remaining at an all-time high this late into his term, they know that whoever he anoints as successor will most certainly run roughshod over Robredo or whoever the opposition fields.

Election is almost not an option for the opposition. Hence the resurrection of old health questions. The problem with that is that it assumes too much about God not catching on. Before the opposition can finish laying thick on the right of the public to know the status of Duterte's health, God already knows what the opposition is up to.

Duterte can hardly be considered God's favorite. But between desperate politicians wishing for other people to die for their own political gain and he whose mouth is as filthy as his hands are dirty but makes no pretense that they are otherwise and is sincerely driven in his good intentions even if his methods are not, I suspect I know where God's merciful tendencies would lie. And I would not be surprised if Duterte lives up to his nineties.

Since Duterte is not likely to die, and it is not likely that the next president will come from the opposition, the best option for them is to go for a very strong showing in the Senate by fielding real senatoriables instead of just plain oppositionists. But if the opposition cannot recognize the difference, then they are bound to repeat their showing in 2019, when their best cannot even make 13th and thus ended with a big fat egg.

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