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Opinion

If you can't fight City Hall, how can you confront the Palace?

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez - The Freeman

Now that the die is cast, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. Manny Pacquiao has chosen the wrong enemy. And he had committed the most serious faux pas at the worst time. He may be the world's greatest boxer, but I have my serious doubts if he is not really today's worst political strategist. He declared too early. He opened his mouth before giving it serious thought. He was hit by a left hook from the Palace, followed by a series of jabs and uppercuts by PDP-Laban. Politically, he is down on the canvas. I hope he can still recover.

Pacman has been slain in absentia. The party he helped to rebuild has been taken away from him. He and Coco Pimentel cannot possibly fight the battalions of Duterte diehards. They are like the windmills of “outrageous fortunes” that swooped down on the true and original PDP-Laban members. While Manny is in California busy preparing for a formidable opponent, his political dreams are bamboozled here by his mortal enemies. A blatant treachery. Like Julius Caesar who was stabbed in the back by his friend, Brutus.

Manny is a nice guy with a lousy political handler. His greatest mistake was to openly wake up the sleeping giant at a time when he was still preparing for a championship showdown come August 21. An ominous date. On that day Ninoy Aquino was knocked out by his insidious enemies in 1983. Manny should have been properly advised not to confront the president before he had to go and pick up some millions of dollars in the US. What he should have done was to play it cool and reserve his killer left hook after he shall have defeated Errol Spence. His timing is completely in disarray. I don't know if he really has a competent political adviser. He was already abandoned by Chavit Singson. His friends are all “babes in the woods”, all neophytes in the dirty games of politics.

There is an American figure of speech that says "you can't fight City Hall". I remember the speech of Al Pacino as Mayor John Pappas in the movie “City Hall” in 1996. It’s an analogy of how difficult it is for a reformer to confront the well-entrenched establishment. Pacquiao may ultimately be hailed as a hero but not until after he shall have suffered so much persecution, harassment, and political treachery, for many years and even decades. The way his political future was ambushed by PDP-Laban was like the way Fernando Lopez lost the NP national convention in 1965. He was outsmarted by an intruder into NP, a former LP, Ferdinand Marcos who fought Macapagal and defeated the incumbent. Manny's fate is like that of Don Sergio Osmeña who won in the NP convention over Manuel Roxas, but the latter bolted the NP, founded the LP and defeated Osmeña.

And so, if you can't fight City Hall, how can you ever win over the Palace? Pacquiao may have the money but he doesn’t have the organization down to the precinct levels. The only option for him now is to ally with Vice President Leni Robredo and be prepared to slide down to a vice presidential candidacy. But if Leni agrees to run for reelection as vice president (the Constitution allows her one reelection) and Manny runs for president under the LP, there shall be a better chance. Manny cannot win for vice president if President Duterte makes good his threat to gun for that post. These are very delicate and difficult choices to make. The easiest scenario is running for senator again, for sure, he will top the race. What Manny really needs is an astute, experienced political strategist and tactician. Boboy Fernandez is only good for boxing. If Pacquiao is really serious, I will give him the best master planner.

The Bible advises Manny to be pure as a dove but wise as a serpent. He is entering a den of lions. In the field of politics, Manny definitely has the charm of a nightingale but he doesn’t possess the speed of an eagle and the ferocity of a tiger. He may have these characteristics as a champion boxer. But in politics, he is like an innocent parakeet and a harmless cockatiel. If he doesn’t watch his back, most probably, he will be eaten alive by the monkey-eating eagle from Mount Apo. Careful, careful.

MANNY PACQUIAO
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