LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales - The Freeman

Does anyone understand what Rodrigo Duterte is up to? What’s up with that bubble he floated about a potential run for the vice presidency?

I thought that the slot to be presidential daughter Sara Duterte’s running mate had already been sewn up by the now-you-see-him-it’s-election-time, most-of-the-time-you-don’t Gibo Teodoro. I mean, he did just pop out of nowhere to suddenly ask for her hand in political marriage (and let’s not forget, along the way, he had conveniently gotten vaccinated in an LGU different from his place of residence).

After the political commentators and social media analysts had gone wild with speculation, and finally satisfied themselves that a North-Teodoro, South-Duterte alliance made sense, Duterte pere dropped the bomb: if anyone was going to be the running mate to a Duterte fille run, it would be him.

Well, that’s a surprise.

Didn’t he just whine about the presidency tiring him out? All those responsibilities. All those whiny intelligentsia pushing for solutions to the economic mess and the pandemic. All those comparisons made to his successor, spotlit by the martyrdom of Noynoy Aquino’s sudden departure for the firmaments.

Weren’t those enough incentives to just retire from the political spotlight, and seek a quiet place to enjoy the luxuries of a simple life? (Simple being, of course, a relative term. I would settle for nothing less than ten maids to terrorize during my birthday parties while munching on crispy lechon).

Purportedly, the rationale for gunning for Post No. 2 was to shield him from persecution after his presidential term. That is, assuming he committed something persecutable, the veracity of which everyone is quick to swear oaths to. But the political experts, including Teddy Te and Christian Monsod, have quickly pounced on this rationale and opined that first, his deciding to run as vice president immediately after his term as president ends violates the spirit, if not the text, of the Constitution and second, that a vice president isn’t immune from suit.

So for le president to test this theory of exemption, he would probably need to run to the Supreme Court, either as a result of pre-emptive strike against him via an election disqualification case, or in an actual criminal case seeking punishment while he is the vice president. There, he would then have to invoke the coveted immunity from suit as a shield (I note with bemusement that the Supreme Court has just unanimously ruled that he isn’t immune from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Signs of the way the winds shall blow?).

Given these early roadblocks thrown his way, are his advisers convinced of the futility of this option? Or will he still attempt to run for vice president, and just chance it? Or will he try another route, like packing the Supreme Court with his appointees? (Don’t give me that “there are no vacancies” argument. As we have learned the Sereno way, vacancies can always be created).

Perhaps, this bubble is a diversion meant for the real plan that will be unveiled soon. Are we supposed to be looking distractedly at this circus while a much bigger plot is underway?

Senators Lacson and Sotto have just announced a presidential tandem, to somewhat tepid excitement. That’s probably not the Big Bang we’re waiting for. Meanwhile, more political figures have made the appropriate noises about their candidacies, but those don’t preserve the Duterte Dynasty and immunize the padre de familia.

Meanwhile, the pandemic is still claiming lives and wreaking economic havoc. Surely, this isn’t all just meant to make us forget the misery out there?

We await, if not in excitement, then perhaps with trepidation.

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