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The Manila Times
Rep. Edcel C. Lagman’s
Weekly Thursday Column

THE 2022 presidential election will be squarely between President Rodrigo Duterte, who covets and designs the continuity of his leadership through his overtly anointed candidates and his covertly masquerading allies, and the authentic opposition and forthright critics of Duterte’s flawed and repressive policies.

Leading the forces against Duterte is Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo. Ranged against her are all the other presidential candidates who are directly or indirectly allied with Duterte.

Leni has led the opposition since the inception of Duterte’s presidency. She chairs the Liberal Party (LP), which is the principal opposition party. As vice president, she was appointed chairperson of the Housing and Urban Development Coordination Council with cabinet rank. She resigned in December 2016 due to her continuing differences with Duterte. 

Leni has exposed without fail the following ignominies of the Duterte administration: official corruption, derogation of human rights, surrender of Philippine sovereignty, irresponsible governance and lackluster response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the other hand, former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. appears to be an avid fan of Duterte who idolizes his dictator father. Bongbong even wanted Duterte as his running mate. If elected president, he vowed to shield Duterte from the International Criminal Court’s investigation for crimes against humanity. He runs under Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, founded by Duterte’s Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones. He deliberately detaches himself from his father’s discredited Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.

Bongbong has no qualms being an ally of Duterte, who expedited the improvident burial of his infamous father in the Libingan ng mga Bayani even as both the Congress and the Supreme Court have previously documented and denounced the evils of Marcos’ martial rule.

Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao comes from the Duterte corral and won as senator with Duterte’s support. He used to be president of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). His recent tirades against Duterte are more for political mileage than serious denunciations.  

Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson belongs to the Duterte-allied majority coalition. He is the principal author and sponsor of the 2020 Anti-Terrorism Act, which Duterte uses against critics and dissenters.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa as then director general of the Philippine National Police implemented Duterte’s bloody war against drugs. He is the last-minute presidential candidate of the mainstream PDP-Laban whose presidential bid may be substituted by Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the President’s daughter whose filiation with Duterte is her ticket to victory or doom.

Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso aka “Isko Moreno” is a protégé of Duterte, who appointed him as undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. He is not critical of Duterte’s horrific and illegal drug war, where thousands have been extrajudicially killed from the marginalized and disadvantaged sectors like in Manila. Neither does he scorn nor score Duterte’s anemic response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He even committed to make Duterte a cabinet secretary if the latter becomes vice president, despite Duterte’s constitutionally infirm projected candidacy which he did not pursue.  

Isko Moreno demeans himself by catering to all sectors, including the dubious and the dishonorable. To inveigle Marcos partisans, he assumes the posture of ambivalence to the atrocities, plunder, and profligacy of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. He asked Filipinos to give the Marcoses another chance to explain themselves because they could have been the “inapi” (oppressed). No amount of contrived explanations and revolting revisionism will exculpate the Marcoses of the dictator’s oppressing the Filipino people and their benefitting from the strongman’s ill-gotten hoard.

The grievous sins of the dictator Marcos stain his family and descendants who continue to glorify his odious regime while profiting from his corruption.

Isko must be reminded that as long as a Marcos kin seeks public office, the Marcos dictatorship will always be a relevant issue. Filipinos must never forgive and forget the unforgiveable and unforgettable mortal sins of the Marcoses.

Isko has a grossly myopic view of history when he minimized the condemnation of the Marcos dictatorship as a family feud between the Marcos and Aquino families. Remember, it is the Filipino people against the Marcos dictatorship, deceit, and despoilation. Isko commits a fatal act of revisionist collaboration.

Isko trivialized himself, as he is wont to do, by castigating Leni Robredo’s choice of pink as her campaign color. The choice of color is a candidate’s call. Isko does not know that pink symbolizes kindness, compassion, courage, positivity, and nurturance. Pink also represents youth, health, happiness, and optimism. Thus, we have expressions such as “in the pink of health”, “in pink condition”, “tickled pink” and “seeing the world through rose-colored glasses.”

Moreover, Isko blatantly errs when he accused Leni of abandoning LP. He is unmindful that she remains chairperson of LP and her campaign manager is an LP stalwart, Bam Aquino. She vies for the presidency as an independent to coalesce all forces genuinely against the Duterte hegemony.

He conveniently forgets that he has had a rigodon of parties. From 1998 to 2007 he ran under Asenso Manileño thrice as Manila councilor and then vice mayor; in 2010, as a Nacionalista candidate for vice mayor; in 2013, he ran again for vice mayor but under the United Nationalist Alliance; in 2016, he ran for Senator under Partido ng Masang Pilipino; in 2019, he returned to Asenso Manileño when he ran for Manila mayor; from 2016 to 2021 he was with the National Unity Party, which he abandoned recently. Now, the perpetual political butterfly is running for president under Aksyon Demokratiko.

Except principally for Duterte’s subalterns and belated pseudo critics who are really Duterte allies, the multitude of Filipinos reject the perpetuation of Duterte’s “legacy” of failed promises, escalating corruption, ineffectual leadership, and authoritarian policies. The 2022 elections will record an opposition victory to usher in genuine change for the welfare, protection, and salvation of the sovereign Filipino people.


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