Almost final

Communication specialist JoseBayani Baylon is a keen observer of Philippine politics. He is sharing with VERA Files readers his reading of political movements, obvious and not-so-obvious, leading up to the election in May 2022.



Eleven days to go and then we’d know the real score: will Mayor Sara run for president or vice president or mayor? If she runs for top spot who will be her Vice? If she runs for Vice who will be her president? And if she runs for mayor, who will take Bato dela Rosa seriously?

With Sara (still) out of the picture, the last week or two have all been about Leni and her “Kakampinks” campaign, and Bongbong and his Oxford diploma. Oh and most recently, Bongbong and his failure to file an income tax return during the period when he was vice governor and then governor of Ilocos Norte.

And the implications of his conviction on his eligibility to run for president. (Never mind if he too had run for senator - successfully - and vice president - unsuccessfully, since that very conviction).

Less attention has been focused on erstwhile media darling Mayor Isko Moreno of Manila, Pambansang Kamao Manny Pacquiao, and on Senator Panfilo Lacson. As for Senator.Bato and Leody de Guzman, this piece may be one of those rare occasions when they are mentioned at all.

From the looks of it, Mayor Sara will stick to her guns and run for re-election, which means the cast of characters we have as of today is more or less what we will have to choose from come May. Only Bongbong will have to decide who he will run with, and most probably that person will be someone closely aligned with President Duterte - or still potentially the President himself!

Assuming there are no major changes in the lineups except for the matter of who will run on the Marcos ticket as vice president, a few questions come to mind.

Why are Helen Gamboa and Sharon Cuneta splitting the media-entertainment world vote? That’s unfortunate, and only opens the door for someone else - SenSAP Bong Go? - to slip through the cracks and claim the vice presidency. I suspect that Sen Kiko would prefer to run for re-election, but that leaves VP Leni without a VP. And efforts to get her and SP TitoSen to run together are what incensed Sen Ping who, I think, has into become more determined to run, win or lose. So yes, the entertainment world will be split in a way not seen since Ate Guy vs Ate Vi.

If Sara Duterte endorses Bongbong Marcos, will President Duterte endorse him as well? You see, unless the President speaks up, Sara’s words and deeds will be read by the DDS as indication of where they should go. And if Mayora Sara does stick to Bongbong Marcos, any endorsement by PRRD of anyone else - say Sen Bato - could simply split the DDS vote and make it easier for the YellowPinks to win. By staying quiet the President would be unofficially endorsing BBM; more so if he follows his daughter’s lead. In either case, Sen Bato can just go through the motions of campaigning but worry not about being jobless if he loses as he simply returns to the Senate anyway.

Who of these three could be the FVR or the Duterte of 2022: Isko, Manny or Ping? Even if all attention today are focused on Marcos Jr and Robredo, remember 1992 and 2016. In the former, all eyes were first on Danding and then Miriam but no one saw Fidel Ramos coming. Twenty four years later all eyes were first kn Jejomar Binay and then on Grace Poe - but then Rodrigo Duterte came from the bottom of the rankings to run away with victory. Is this the formula that Isko, Manny and Ping are looking at? And who is best positioned to pull it off? Some small voice in the back of my head actually says it’s Ping. Hmm.

Because the list of almost but not yet final, anything really can still happen. But assuming nothing dramatic develops, then this is the cast of characters for the big zarzuela in May.

How the script ends — that in a big part is up to you. And to me. And to Covid. And, yes, to Smartmatic as well!

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.

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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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