By Chito Fuentes
THE desperation shot was bound to happen.
A day before the campaign for local posts kicked off, former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez hugged the headlines when he declared his support for Vice-President Leni Robredo. This prompted Sen. Panfilo Lacson to resign from Alvarez' Reporma and in the process found himself an independent going into the homestretch of the campaign.
One need not be a political analyst to see the reason behind Alvarez' move. With Lacson falling far behind runaway leader ex-Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., nothing short of a miracle is needed for the former just to vault within striking distance.
In throwing his lot behind Robredo, however, Alvarez unwittingly placed Senate President Vicente Sotto III in a bind.
Sotto now has to decide whether or not to follow Alvarez into the Leni camp, a move that will cost not only his friendship with Lacson but also the prospect of being labelled an opportunist and a traitor.
If winning is the only thing, as famous football coach Vince Lombardi has been unfairly accused of uttering, Sotto can convince himself that such a move is justified. No doubt, he has better chances with Leni than he has with Lacson.
Such a jump, however, imposes complications that will forever haunt Sotto. How can he be trusted if he abandons Lacson who once said their friendship was "cast in stone"?
As if that disturbing implication is not enough, Sotto is aware that even such opportunism does not automatically ensure victory.
In contrast, Mayor Sara Duterte seized the opportunity to cement her legacy as a woman of her word. The lady mayor has consistently and persistently resisted overtures from various camps pairing her with other standard-bearers and this time she hammered the last nail to the coffin.
Only recently, Representatives Joey Salceda and Rufus Rodriguez along with Zamboanga City Mayor Ma. Isabelle Climaco launched the Robredo-Sara movement or Ro-Sa for short.
Prior to that, supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno formed the so-called Is-Sa (Isko-Sara) Ako movement.
Earlier, allies of Sen. Manny Pacquiao including his own brother, Deputy Speaker Rogelio Pacquiao and Sarangani Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon pledged their support to Mayor Duterte's vice-presidential bid that prompted a stinging retort from the boxing icon.
Addressing the prime movers of such movements, Sara was careful not to ruffle their feelings.
"I am aware that many of you wish to see me with another presidential candidate. I take that as a sign of confidence in me as a leader. And for that, I am deeply touched and honored," she declared.
In the next breath, however, she laid down not just her position on such initiatives but - more importantly - her character, priorities, and principles.
"But I am a person, a woman, a leader who values commitment and word of honor," she asserted.
How indeed can she be trusted with her commitments if she now accommodates political propositions that will require her to turn her back on her running mate? What word of honor is there to speak of if she puts her own interest over that of her team?
In one fell swoop, Mayor Sara separated herself from Sotto and the rest of the pack. In just 16 words, she made sure there are no gray areas, no ambiguity, no equivocation.
"I am running for the position of Vice President and my President is Apo Bongbong Marcos," she declares categorically.
A mantra is defined as a statement or slogan repeated frequently. This statement can morph into one - if it is not so yet.
Going into the last 44 days of this year's national election, the Filipino can expect Mayor Sara to repeat this mantra at every opportunity. For a person who had long been taken for a ride by politicians who do not live up to their word, Sara Duterte's mantra is an indication of things to come.