Lull before the storm

OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide - The Freeman

In the last quarter of the year 2023, there was news that the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, moved to continue with the investigation of the hostis humani generis cases filed against personalities presumed responsible for extrajudicial killings during the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte. That news generated an extremely raucous discussion amongst our people.

Live national television programs, radio interviews, columns by acknowledged opinion writers permeated all walks of life. I then realized from the volume of the ideas exchanged that Duterte still had a huge following. But soon after the noisy banter, the story of the supposed issuance of warrants of arrest for people who were perceived responsible, directly or indirectly, died down. Many people, not including me, began to imagine that it was all hoax - this prosecution against Duterte’s drug war.

The other day, I chanced upon a social media post that brought forth the information that there is a movement within the ICC in the direction leading to the issuance of warrants of arrest. Curiosity led me to do some research to find out the probable names that might be identified as subjects of the warrants and what I learned looked unbelievable. Because I do not want to cause any undue public disturbance with any information that cannot be validated yet, neither officially acknowledged, let me just say that nine possible present and former high ranking officials might appear in the dreaded list.

Assuming there is truth to the FB post, I want to look at this report in the light of its probable political repercussions here in Cebu City. A storm is coming. Mayor Michael Rama is a ranking officer of the PDP. As the party vice president for the Visayas, he has a say on party matters. In the convention (of sort) of PDP, Rama was seen as the personification of a Duterte man Friday. The hundreds of people who attended the function at a very expensive venue believed that the former president enjoys still a big following enough to win elections. So, they made their presence at the side of Rama and Duterte seen.

This is where I am apprehensive. Let us suppose that the FB post, notwithstanding its uncertainty, has basis. A warrant of arrest against Duterte has dire ramifications. Our politicians are wary of serious derogatory record. And there is nothing more derogatory than being a subject of a warrant of arrest. With such warrant attached to the name of Duterte, political leaders will do what will serve them best. Their escape route is going away from being identified as PDP party members. Their desertion will result into the crumble of PDP.

Rama is however not unprepared for this event. Even if PDP becomes a non-entity, the city mayor will not be lost in political power play. He might even become a more viable candidate as the administration bet. This is so because Rama is close to President Ferdinand R. Marcos. They reportedly are “compadres”. Marcos will be happy to bring Rama under his Partido Federal.

The only seeming obstacle Rama needs to prepare for is the expected opposition of Gov. Gwen Garcia and Mr. Yogi Ruiz who just took his oath as a new member of the party.

Gov. Gwen might work her charm to make Pres. Marcos adopt the city Vice Mayor as mayoralty bet while Ruiz will use his PF membership as an argument. There are more foreseeable ramifications if the FB post is not fake. Let us wait how things develop.

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