Manolo Quezon is #TheExplainer Newsletter: Duterte’s Civil War

Manuel L. Quezon III
4 min readNov 14, 2021

’Twas the day before final substitutions and the goings-on sure got interesting today, as the big players stayed out of sight, leaving the faithful to squabble among themselves.

Electoral Merry-Go-Round Special

So the past few days, down to this morning, a thread. The image we should bear in mind, is Goya’s famous painting of Saturn devouring his son.

Keeping it within the family

So the past few days, down to this morning, a thread. The image we should bear in mind, is Goya’s famous painting of Saturn devouring his son.

The son also rises

This situation arose because the President and Go and even Daughterte took a hit from Pharmally, but the President and Go took the biggest hit, meaning Go had to slide down and the President had to bow out of running. This left Daughterte.

The daughter strikes back

But she’d missed the first deadline which led two groups to make contingency plans: PDP-Laban, and Lakas-CMD. Speculation first focused on whether there would finally be a meeting of the minds between FMJr. and SZD.


Here, the person being watched was not the President, or PDP-Laban, but rather, GMA and Lakas-CMD as it was with both that SZD a track record of effective political partnership. The question was where FMJr. was in their calculus, if any.


So when SZD did ditch a bid for the mayoralty, and then signed on to Lakas-CMD, there was, at some point between the two events, an effort by the FM Jr. campaign to push for SZD to be the veep candidate.


But it seemed for days, that the two camps were at loggerheads. It seems to me FM Jr. resented the assumption he was weak and would cave in either on mere threats of disqualification, or simply due to pressure. It seemed for a time, SZD was holding firm to seeking the presidency.


Early on in this realignment, the ones obviously shoved aside, were Go, PDP-Laban and, to a certain extent, even the President. In retrospect, Go’s weepy announcement dirty politics might make him abandon his plans, was as much directed to the President as anyone else.


Then even as most noticed FM Jr. seemingly out of stubborn bravura, was declaring he’d never back down, Go also started being similarly firm; and in the end, it became apparent that Sara blinked, settling for Veep. Was this negotiated? Or a loss of nerve?


To my mind, a loss of nerve: she could not/would not hold out to an extent to cause FM Jr. to blink; so she blinked. Either way, GMA could live with it, especially if disqualification remained on the table. But the one totally left holding the bag, dependent on the Marcoses?

Why, the President. And this is what is convincing to me, to explain his behavior since Daughterte declared she was running for veep without, mind you, specifying she would be anyone’s running mate. It was FM Jr. who announced he would take her as his running mate.

Cheering and Hoping

How do you read the President Is he a gambler, or does he only make big gestures when he knows beforehand he will win? If a gambler, then he is playing chicken with Daughterte and threatening to divide their forces, to force her to run with Go, whom she famously hates. Or he knows she cannot, in the end, dare, so she has until Monday to do as he prefers. What today is revealing, then, is the loyalty check going on within the formerly united ranks of the President’s and Daughterte’s followers with the Marcos supporters also caught in a bind.

What Go has that Daughterte does not, is direct knowledge and control of the levers of power and resource silos of the presidency. Which can be denied the Marcoses, too.

Discombobulation Department

The leading lights of the ruling coalition’s online machinery are divided on how to appreciate the President’s actions.

A summary of the President’s remarks
The President was fooled
The President’s being ill-served
The trending hashtag
The faithful



Manuel L. Quezon III

Columnist, Philippine Daily Inquirer. Editor-at-large Views strictly mine. I have a newsletter, blog, podcast, and Patreon.