THEIR mouths may not be as uncouth and sacrilegious as that of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, but their hearts and minds are as vile. Some are in religious habits and are pictures of piety and decency but they invoke the supernatural to inflict harm or death to the man they abhor. They watch his every move and curse him in every turn and the moment he disappears to have a longer respite than usual they quickly spread the rumor that the President is gravely sick and had to be rushed to the hospital. Cardiac arrest, they declared, a consummation they devoutly wished but I think God looks so kindly to the man He favors him more than what he deserves.
But where was Duterte all along? He was pouring over every daily newspaper enjoying the exhilarating joy of a victor and the delicious plate of “palabok”. It was his quiet way of celebrating the outcome of the midterm elections with only his loyal executive assistant, now Senator of the Republic, Bong Go, on his side.
We are advancing to the new chapter of Duterte’s governance. In both the upper and lower chambers of Philippine Congress are allies of the President. His feisty daughter, Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte-Carpio with her Hugpong ng Pagbabago had seen to it that the President will get all the support to achieve his deliverables in his Build, Build, Build program. He has an unprecedented majority in the Senate and in the House of Representatives.
In the backdrop of these tumultuous electoral successes are incontrovertible statistics which make Dutertes “palabok” even delectable. On the heels of Standard and Poor’s global ratings that the Philippines is now in the Investment Grade category, the inflow of capital investments has perked up the economy. The approval rating of Duterte, the candidate described by his political adversaries as taga-bundok, has soared making his incorrigible critics agape in revulsion. But numbers don’t lie.
President Duterte deserves the much-needed rest. He does not fly to a Camp David for the simplicity of the Presidential quarters by the river Pasig is comfortable enough. Back in Davao City, he used to stay in an isolated bungalow beside a creek and he might have developed a love for the aroma coming from the river. He abandoned that house later when in time and a series of erosion upstream and the occurrence of flash floods made living there untenable. He transferred to another simple bungalow which had been visited by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. I need not elucidate on that for the world had seen it including that iconic mosquito net that makes his bed soporific.
His critics, to include the almost banished opposition, still managed to release some diatribes, some in intense decibels these can no longer be heard. But Digong need not answer them for he has figures to argue for him. In the end, the feeble campaign manager of the Liberal Party Otso Deretso, Sen Kiko Pangilinan, resigned as President of the party and that leaves VP Leni Robredo, the confused Chairperson of the LP alone with detained Sen. Leila De Lima as the only LP members gasping in defeat.
So what is next now that the opposition has become irrelevant? Up in the Senate, the leadership structure appears to be heading for the status quo. There will be jockeying for the speakership in the lower chamber. There is Lord Allan Velasco who is a family friend to the Duterte family, Martin Romualdez of the Marcos clan which has an influential political clout and allied with HnP, Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig City who was Duterte’s running mate and then there is the come-backing Bebot Alvarez whose term as speaker was abbreviated by the Presidential daughter Inday Sara. Bebot has not kept secret his desire to hold that congressional gavel again.
Bebot has offered his hand in a handshake to reconcile differences with Mayor Inday but there were enough lessons to learn from what happened between Alvarez and his erstwhile buddy Tonyboy Floirendo.
The imponderables are all there and I cannot read the minds of politicians when it comes to a power play. But political reality dictates that in the midst of bickering and hankering for power the decision depends on the man who lives in that shack beside the Pasig river.