A few days after claiming that the resignation of lawmakers from Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) did not bother him, former president Rodrigo Duterte now declares he would field young, intelligent and principled candidates against those who have left the former ruling political party.
“Lalagyan ko kayo ng kalaban; magkakampanya ako (I will put up candidates against you; I will campaign),” the 78-year-old Duterte said in the latest episode of his talk show “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa” aired with Pastor Apollo Quiboloy on Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) last Nov. 15.
“Mas maganda nga next election ako lang ang PDP, and I will… magpatakbo ako ng tao na Filipino na mauutak… mamimili ako ng bata na may mga prinsipyo.”
(It’s better if I’ll be the only PDP [member] in the next election, and I will field Filipinos who have brains… I will choose young [candidates] who are principled).
Of course, that’s just talk. If he was not able to field young, intelligent and principled candidates in the 2019 and 2022 elections when he was in power, what makes him think he can do so now that he’s older and is not even in control of the PDP-Laban?
From a high of 120 lawmakers during his presidency, the PDP-Laban is down to just 13 congressmen as of Nov. 14, with senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. leading the recent series of resignations by members, who then joined Lakas, the party of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez. The party had 65 members in the House at the start of the 19th Congress in July 2022.
Duterte hinted at more resignations to come, with only his son, Rep. Paolo Duterte, and Rep. Isidro Ungab, both of Davao City, sticking it out with PDP-Laban, the party that adopted the former mayor of Davao City as its “replacement” candidate in the 2016 presidential election.
He earlier said those “not in tune with us” could leave the party and that it would be OK even if he were the only PDP-Laban member left because he could just “rebuild the party.”
The elder Duterte’s threat to his erstwhile partymates came just a few weeks after his daughter, Vice President Sara Duterte, appealed to her supporters to “stop thinking about politics” and focus instead on the “impending crisis” of increasing prices amid ongoing tensions across the globe.
The former president said he was prompted to describe the legislature as a “rotten Congress” because of Romualdez. “Kaya nagalit ‘yung mga congressman, e put*… ‘wag ninyo akong bolahin, galing ako d’yan. ‘Wag kayo maghinanakit. Galit lang ako d’yan, nasabi ko rotten Congress, kasi ‘yung speaker ninyo,” he said. “Ngayon, if you feel alluded to, natamaan ka, eh, pasensya ka. Wala naman kasing nagsasalita, eh naglipatan na kayo. [Sa] PDP walang naiwan.”
As a president who destroyed the opposition during his term, Duterte now says “there must be dissent.”
“Even if I stand alone, whether it is really nagustuhan ng tao o hindi, in a democracy there must be dissent. Without dissent, there is no democracy,” he said. “If you are not allowed to disagree, there is no democracy, period.”
“There has to be a dissenter whether it is really correct or not, just to, para pag-usapan ang problema. Or maski wala s’yang makita, may question siya. If mali siya, then it is his… sarili niyang responsibilidad ‘yan.”
Hmm… was that really Duterte speaking?
At one point in the program, he said he was not a member of the opposition, so he should not have been dragged into the reported efforts to destabilize the Marcos administration. “How could it be destabilization?” he asked.
In the same breath, Duterte said he has “never been with the administration, not even [during] Cory [Aquino]’s time. Nandito talaga ako sa oposisyon.”
He said he spoke about the rampant corruption by congressmen because “wala na kasing nagsasalita; wala na kasing oposisyon.” Quickly, he said: “Hindi ako oposisyon. Tao lang ako. But there is no more opposition. Wala nang Liberal; nasuyok na lahat sa administration, which is good sana para wala nang gulo.”
He went on to say how congressmen get 30 to 40% commission from projects in their congressional districts and how the House speaker controls fund releases to allies.
“Pero away ‘yan ngayon, d’yan mismo. Si [Sen.] Imee [Marcos], nung pumutok ito, sabi niya, ‘I stand with the Duterte[s]… kasi outside of the kulambo ‘yan s’ya. Kasi hindi siya magkaintindihan sa [hipag] niya, pati itong si Romualdez,” the former president said, confirming what has all along been suspected that the older sister of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is not on good terms with his wife, First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos.
But Duterte, who is facing the possibility of being summoned by the International Criminal Court over the drug-related killings during his term, said with a veiled warning: “Wala akong away kay presidente, unless you want to join into the fray. Wala akong away sa asawa… Bahala kayo kung anong… there will always be a reckoning para sa atin. Wala akong away diyan sa iba.”
With speculations that the administration is softening on its stand on the ICC’s probe of Duterte’s alleged involvement in the killings, Duterte has been cautious in making statements about the president, who will have a say in allowing the ICC probers to come into the country. He earlier said he does not see serious cases of corruption involving Marcos.
All his rants were directed at Romualdez, from accusing him of corruption to saying he’ll not win for president from the side of Leyte where he (Duterte) was born. The former president said he is “1,000% sure” that all the accusations and charges hurled at the Dutertes were “all about politics.”
He said Romualdez was destroying the Dutertes because the vice president is “perceived to be a presidential candidate” and the House speaker is “posturing” to provide a “continuity from the Marcos to Romualdez” as president.
Romualdez’s allies removed the P650-million confidential funds proposed for the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education, both headed by Sara Duterte.
This quarrel between the Dutertes and Romualdez brings to mind the proverbial idiom about the pot calling the kettle black.