Manolo Quezon is #TheExplainer Newsletter — Duterte’s Last Play?
It seems there is a tug of war going on, with one group wanting the President to unhesitatingly throw in his lot with the Marcoses, while the President at the very least, is still playing coy: in response, it seems, to his son’s pressure, the President made a pointed reference to the billions of pesos in uncollected estate tax that the BIR recently reminded the Marcoses of. But my column this week spells out why the Marcoses would gain from a presidential endorsement.
The Long View for this week
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:35 AM March 30, 2022
The President’s son, Sebastian, suggests that an endorsement of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. by his father is coming soon. The announcement can be considered a foretaste of what would be the crowning glory of the Marcos campaign. From the start, it projected, and organized, itself on fundamentally traditional lines: first, as a North-South alliance, and second, as the pinnacle of political machine politics. A presidential endorsement, as we’ll see below, would achieve a lockout of Robredo. It also settles the question of where the President stands at the end of his term.
From Earl Parreño’s interesting biography of Rodrigo Duterte, we know that Vicente Duterte, the President’s father, was an ally and political protégé of Sen. Alejandro Almendras and President Ferdinand E. Marcos; that at a certain point, both Almendras and Marcos turned against Duterte, who’d embarked on the path — including becoming the Secretary of General Services — previously carved out by Almendras; but that, when the elder Duterte defied Marcos and insisted on running for congressman, Marcos supported Duterte’s rival while Almendras, supportive in public, actually opposed Duterte in private; so that three months after his defeat, the elder Duterte died, his son was convinced, of a broken heart.
Soledad Duterte exacted her revenge on Ferdinand Marcos by supporting Cory Aquino, only to reveal her authentic political colors when she called for Cory’s resignation in 1990 and for Doy Laurel to take over. When the Aquino administration ran an official candidate against Rodrigo Duterte, he had no compunction about approaching the still-influential Alejandro Almendras to seek, and obtain, his political support for the mayoralty; in a similar manner, he sought, and obtained, the support of the Marcoses for his presidential bid in 2016.
He paid his political debt by authorizing a state funeral at the Libingan ng mga Bayani for the late dictator. For a time, it seemed the President, miffed his daughter had decided to slide down to veep, was toying with the idea of somehow being a spoiler for Marcos Jr. Now, it seems, the New Society of Marcos and the Newer Society of Duterte have reconciled again. In what is likely the closing political act of his presidency, the President is ending his political career as he began it: by setting aside his feelings out of a pragmatic quest for success.
As Randy David put it bluntly last Sunday, right now, the opinion polls project a Marcos Jr. victory. A review of those polls, each a snapshot. The most recent is the Laylo Report, January, February, March: FM Jr., 64 percent, 63 percent, 61 percent; Robredo, 16 percent, 17 percent, 19 percent. For SWS, January, February: FM Jr., 50 percent, 46 percent; Robredo, 19 percent, 15 percent. Pulse Asia, January, February: FM. Jr., 60 percent; Robredo, 16 percent (same for both months). Ranged against this is the theory, as yet unproven, that the surveys may no longer be accurate, and that measuring Google search and Facebook sentiment provides a totally different picture (see Roger Do’s blog, www.autopolitic.com/blog).
With numbers like these, in the end, does the President need Marcos more than Marcos needs the President? Yes and no.
The Marcos dream remains to achieve a hugely historic mandate, which is what anything over 42 percent, the highest post-Edsa plurality ever (Benigno Aquino III, in 2010), would be. All the rest of our presidents since 1992 obtained 39 percent, the magic percentage. My former colleague John Nery believes 41 percent is needed to win, or 22 million votes. The challenge for the Marcoses is whether hugely expensive but unreliable machines can deliver on election day, when the Robredo campaign is experiencing a surge driven by an enthusiasm and daring markedly different from the glum-faced, low-energy Marcos sorties.
The clincher can be Mindanao. For some, the rule of thumb is this: No candidate has won the presidency with merely 5 percent of Mindanao, which is what Robredo has in Mindanao, according to both Pulse Asia and Laylo. So how to keep her there, where elsewhere she is becoming more competitive? Note that Pulse Asia gives the disapproval rate of the President at only 4 percent in Mindanao: He remains, overwhelmingly, the favorite son. What then happens in Mindanao, when the President formally endorses Marcos Jr.? In particular, what will happen to the local politicians who have endorsed the Vice President in Mindanao? There would be an administration lockout, delivered by the President.
Machiavelli’s campaign cameo
Who would’ve thought but it happened: Machiavelli ended up trending online in the Philippines, thanks to Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and friends. I felt this was a rare teaching moment so cranked out a blog entry, see below.
“Aside from lucky circumstances and positive qualities, there are two other ways a private citizen can become a ruler and we should include them in our discussion, though one of these would find more space in a book about republics. They are, first, when a man seizes power by some terrible crime and, second, when a private citizen becomes hereditary ruler with the support of his fellow citizens.” –Excerpt From The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli
Our word for the day is Mach·i·a·vel·li·an adjective: “cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics.”
This is all because of Prof. Carlos and candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. taking Machiavelli’s name in vain.
It began on the pet network of the Powers-that-be, when the professor asked the following question of the candidate, supposedly in aid of probing what, exactly, is the candidate’s leadership style:
Carlos: “Do you think that you are basically an optimist, rather than a pessimist? Number two, do you think you are basically a high risk taker rather than a low risk taker? You’ll notice that the two are related. And the third question is, are you a Machiavellian?”
The result, (according to Interaksyon, and my own transcribing) was an exchange that went like this:
Marcos Jr.: “Well, ah, the first question is if I’m an optimist, ah, or a pessimist. I’m essentially an optimist. And the reason I’m essentially an optimist, um, because especially when you talk about the country, I, we, we can, we are opti– I am optimistic because we are, our biggest asset is the Filipino people and I uh, it’s not, it’s not gonna, (applause) I uh, try to be very objective about it Ma’m I have traveled all over the world, I have not met a better people than Filipinos in every (cheering) every possibility. Uh, am I, am I risk taker or not, when it comes to national issues I um, tend towards the conservative only because a mistake will cause so much suffering to so many people in other words you have to be very careful with the decisions you make, and it’s not something you do off-hand, you think about it very hard, you talk to as many people as you can, and you make absolutely certain that you have have done everything that you can absolutely do, ah, to make whatever your plan is, to make it work. Am I Machiavellian? Well, I’ve studied him quite thoroughly, and I know very many Machiavellians in my life.” (Smile.) “But uhm, I… I….”
Carlos: “This is Machiavellian in terms of taking every means uh, to uh, produce an end. Not the other Machiavellian you know, uh, the bad Machiavellian.”
Marcos Jr.: “Well… ah, hee, hee hee, certainly, we have to be, we have to be aware of everything that is going to help whatever it is that you are hoping to achieve. And as on national scale, that means you have to understand very well what the situation is on the ground.
“Ganito kasi ang sitwasyon ng mga tao, eh tanungin niyo sila… nasa gitna pa ng pandemya, walang trabaho ‘yang mga ‘yan, umaasa pa rin ‘yan sa tupad… Sa [unintelligible] etc. O papano tayo lalabas niyan, where will be ano… what are the other countries doing?
“Kailangan maging maingat sa ano… so I suppose, uh, in the same sense as you save those questions for later, it’s a way of being careful and being very, very knowledgeable about what other things that have to come into play so that you will achieve success… whatever the success, however you will define success. So in that sense, yes ma’am, I am a Machiavellian.”
At which point Prof. Carlos plugged a book and tried to book a consultation.
Say what? An inside joke goes like this: Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is Clarita Carlos’ idea of a smart person. This is a variation on an earlier joke, Clarita Carlos is a Marcos Loyalist’s idea of a smart person.
I myself have enjoyed reading Machiavelli’s The Prince, and re-reading this book because like so many, I find passages from it very useful in reflecting on power. I thought this is as good a time, as any, to share some of these passages. As well as to point out a couple of interesting opinions.
(click the link below to read the whole thing)
#ProyektoPilipino episode 9: Usapang Media
Ano nga ba talaga ang role ng media kapag halalan? Tagabalita lamang ba, tagapaliwanag, o public enemy #1?
For centuries, the media as an institution has been the most credible and reliable source of news. But in this age of social media, more and more people are getting their information from untrusted and unverified sources, claiming that media organizations have lost their objectivity.
The core of Journalism is simple: to inform and present the facts, educate, and inspire positive action. To help us understand better how today’s journalists are striving to uphold the Journalism ethics and standards of truth, accuracy, and objectivity, Fr. Tito Caluag and his friendly trio of distinguished thinkers — Dr. Leloy Claudio, Manolo Quezon, and Carlo Santiago — talk to Armie Jarin-Bennett, President of CNN Philippines; and Christian Esguerra, veteran journalist and host of ANC show, “After the Fact.”
Watch the 9th episode of Proyekto Pilipino on the following channels and timeslots:
The Conscience Collective Youtube channel: Thursdays, 7 p.m.
Sky Cable Channel Ch 955 HD, Ch 155 SD: Fridays, 7 p.m. | Saturdays and Sundays, 3 p.m.
Jeepney TV: Sundays, 6 p.m. | Mondays, 6:30 a.m.
And by the way, #ProyektoPilipino also has an additional podcast which fleshes out our discussions. Subscribe now!
Listen to Proyekto Pilipino: Conversations on Civics and Politics on Spotify. Proyekto Pilipino is a podcast about Filipino history, culture, and civics made for the Filipino people. The goal is to hold discussions about historical events and current issues to build a culture of valuing and understanding. In preparation for the May 2022 elections, season 1 will focus on highlighting the importance of Civics in our voting and electoral process. Join Fr. Tito Caluag and three distinguished historians and thinkers — Dr. Leloy Claudio, Manolo Quezon III, and Carlo Santiago — as we refresh our knowledge of our rights and obligations as citizens, dive deeper into the processes and roles of the government, and understand the importance of taking part in the democratic project of the Philippines. The goal: so we can make better and informed decisions for our country.New episodes drop Mondays and Thursdays, brought to you by The Conscience Collective and Podcast Network Asia.
April in the Philippine Diary Project
In commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II in the Philippines, we have compiled the diary entries for April, 1942, the fifth month of the war, along with other interesting material, in the hope that this will help interested readers to get a sense of the of that conflict. Click on the link below Read More »April 1942: #WW2PH 80 Years After
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