Manolo Quezon is #TheExplainer Newsletter — New Society 2.0
This is the week of the Marcos Restoration and the first glimpses of the New Society redux.
A Kodak moment, the New Society 2.0 to capture who’s “in”: L-R: Greggy Araneta, Kevin Tan (Megaworld’s Andrew Tan’s son), FM Jr.,, Sabin Aboitiz, Johnny Velasquez. Behind are Margie Moran Floirendo and Carol Masibay Garcia (ex beauty queen and Pitoy Moreno model) as well as Iñigo Zobel.
This week’s The Long View
THE LONG VIEW
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 04:35 AM May 11, 2022
Back in 1940, Jose Yulo said six years is too short for a good president and too long for a bad one. In a sense, this basic realization was one reason that, for a generation now, administrations have all flirted with, but failed at: trying to change the terms of presidents and other elected officials. The public and key institutions, from the Church to the courts, vetoed these proposals. This was a kind of consensus — to do nothing. From 1992 to 2022, in a country of very little consensus, two more points of common agreement emerged. The first was that the appetite for experimental regime change outside of fixed terms vanished; the second was a kind of corollary to the public and institutional refusal to let presidents change the rules of the game: the country, instead, preferred to alternate between populism and reform, with neither side having enough time to achieve permanent dominance.
Then, between 2010 and 2016 two things emerged. First, the price of modernity — the inconvenience of modernizing systems — ironically alienated the New Middle Class a reform government helped expand, if not create, even as the Old Middle Class with its grounding in civic participation, had left the scene through emigration. Second, the great national trauma of Mamasapano led to a great divorce between the Filipino people and the Aquinos, leaving the late president unable to keep the reform constituency together when it split over the Roxas-Poe candidacies at the precise moment a new coalition, motivated by the liberties of its principals literally being in mortal peril, formed: the Arroyos, Estradas, Enriles, Revillas, even Marcoses, were willing to try anything. Something had to give.
What had to give were the institutions that had emerged in 1987 with the establishment of our Fifth Republic. The unique, nine-year Arroyo term, the second-longest in our history, by force of circumstances developed a kind of mission creep to slowly eliminate the institutions that had kept the political pendulum swinging. It came to power by harnessing people power, then neutering it by channeling it into a constitutional papering-over of Edsa Dos; it was blessed by the Church hierarchy and then neutralized them by means of official charity; it responded to the looming reformism of Arroyo’s successor by a comprehensive tactic of packing the bureaucracy with allies, and then she identified the right combination of reckless posturing, enthusiastic killing, and inept governance, so that Rodrigo Duterte changed the terms of engagement of the 2016 election and, then, turned the political world on its head, providing her the means to take down the last institution standing, big business and the media.
When all is said and done, Leni Robredo, elected to the vice presidency in the last gasp of the 1986 Coalition, brought together a new one that clawed its way, painfully, but necessarily, precisely because it is new and comprised of the unaccustomed, to rebuilding the constituency she once had in 2016 but had lost in the intervening years. We forget that her current 14.6 million votes, though a smaller percentage than hers in 2016, is still larger than the 14.4 million she obtained six years ago. Yet, when she declared her candidacy for the presidency and through much of the campaign, she hadn’t even matched the percentage she’d had back then. What this tells us is in the closing days of this campaign, the undecided went for her; just as, in the campaign itself, she’d inspired, and presided, over a new coalition that incorporates the remnants of the 1983–1986 but much that is new, and even unaccustomed, to cohabiting with the Center.
In contrast, the Marcos Restoration, aside from having muscled its way through by a bodyguard of lies, waged an intensely conservative campaign because of the unique weaknesses of its principal (too touchy to risk revealing his petulance, or his incoherence, or his lack of substance, by subjecting himself to public scrutiny too often). Its victory — historic, not least because it is claiming a majority victory last seen in our pre-martial law elections — has been marred by three things, two of them dating back to before Election Day (the Marcoses couldn’t break through a kind of electoral glass ceiling of 30-odd percent until Arroyo brokered a coalition with Duterte is one; the other is that this brokering means the Marcoses must remain vigilant about both Arroyo and the vice president, who is more her protégé than his real partner), and the third, because of the elections — the spectacular incompetence of the current Commission on Elections.
There was nothing surprising about the country knowing its fate before midnight. What was different was the pockets of stubborn voters still insisting on casting their votes, long past this time — until 2 a.m. in one instance. What ought to be a colossal mandate was immediately built on the quicksand of a brittle coalition, unfulfillable expectations, a public relations swindle, and an automated election that seemed all too much like a traditional Marcos election.
First skirmishes in the New Society 2.0 Coalition
We elect Prexy & VP separately because it was felt crucial a potential successor should have an independent mandate. Result is since 1935, Presidents have been jealous of their Veeps because easier race means VP in a ticket usually gets more votes than President. Still true today.
This is particularly true of tandems since they are coalitions and the partners are always uneasy about who really holds the balance of power. The dilemma is what position, thus how much power, should the VP get and whether it will erode President’s authority or upset balance.
A President stingy with a cabinet appointment looks selfish but also, a VP who picks a quarrel with a President more often than not, loses popularity as the public expects them to be loyal to the President. So the dynamics remain uneasy and can rupture, often to the VP’s loss.
So a brief news cycle on May 11 gave an interesting insight into the dynamics of the newly-elected dynamic duo. It added to our appreciation of the two as they embark on the transition into assuming office because it happened in public.
Sara Duterte is a colonel in the Army reserves; perhaps being an officer made her believe, as she publicly stated in the campaign, she should be Secretary of National Defense. Let’s set aside the post not being in the chain of command or her having to relinquish her commission.
What was surprising was the very public announcement she wanted the post, which reveals her being a novice in national politics. First, never ask a question you don’t know the answer to.
Second, never give a president, even one waiting to be proclaimed president-elect, an ultimatum. It was obviously a brash, even bratty move. The Marcos spokesperson artfully dodged it.
By dinner time it was resolved: Sara would be Secretary of Education, not Defense. So, entirely in the senior partner’s favor, which is the message everyone watching the formation of the next administration will take away. The resulting “compromise” offered, and, accepted, will be dissected.
Dominance established, hierarchy underscored, who the pros and novices are, demonstrated. All in one day.
The “presumptive President-elect” has buried the “presumptive Vice-President-elect” in a bottomless pit of mind-numbing, soul-crushing, bureaucratic detail. The statement of Sara Duterte is more revealing than perhaps intended about the ease with which Marcos seems to have made promises (she told him about Defense before the elections) knowing that yesterday’s campaign promise is nothing compared to today making decisions as “presumptive president-elect.” As Duterte has found out.
As VP, Duterte’s appointment to DepEd requires no confirmation. But regardless of what she was told, she will discover the Education department isn’’t one that moves quickly, but which also requires a lot of mind-crushing attention to paperwork and details. The President-to-be has painted a target on her back, putting her in the front lines of a battle for the memory of the nation. There may be few willing to die on that hill, but there are enough to make it even more unpleasant to head the department than it already will be, when she discovers what the work actually requires.
I’d said the whole pointless collision was a waste of time because the priority of the incoming president has to be assembling a credible economic team. Today a roster of potential appointees was floated: obviously to gauge public reactions, and also, to see if it will reassure the markets.
The last VP to Sec. of Education was the 1st VP, Sergio Osmeña, only it was known as the Department of Public Instruction and went to VP bec. prior to Commonwealth, it was the only cabinet post reserved for an American: the Vice-Governor-General. So it was considered prestigious.
After independence by tradition VP’s starting Quirino became Sec. of Foreign Affairs as it was №1 cabinet post: only exceptions were Fernando Lopez in 1949 & 1965 (Agriculture) and Diosdado Macapagal (1st non-tandem elected VP so punished by not being given any job by Garcia).
After VP was reestablished Pres. Aquino (Laurel) and Arroyo (Guingona) followed tradition, while VP’s Estrada, Arroyo, de Castro preferred other portfolios in line with their plans/preferences.
As a rule Presidents have preferred educators for the Education portfolio the exception being the appointment of Raul S. Roco by Pres. Arroyo after Edsa Dos. The logic for Sara Duterte may be that it is a good platform for future plans.
Again: we saw today future VP making public demands on her running mate, the future P., in public, when in a coalition this ought to be settled behind closed doors in a manner that leaves no one looking forced or ending up embarrassed. That it ended up the way it did says a lot.
Note: the whole Sara Duterte incident was an unwelcome waste of time and energy when the №1 ticking timer problem of FM Jr. is assembling and announcing a credible economic team in the wake of market reactions to a Marcos win.
On May 12, the postscript to the Marcos-Duterte came in the form of a long statement
Just today, a new statement appeared on Facebook from the presumptive Vice-President-elect:
The reality of playing in the Big League just go more vivid.
The Marcos HQ for its part, released a list of potential Cabinet members.
Even prior to election day I’d heard the following were expected Cabinet appointments in a possible Marcos Cabinet: Marcoleta for Justice, Al Tengco for DPWH, Wassmer for Finance, and that the (potentially future First Lady) Atty. Marcos was tasked to reach out to former Aquino officials who would be needed to give credibility to any Marcos economic team.
I was right on Marcoleta & Wassmer; I still think it will be Al Tengco in DPWH; you know the balance of power when Energy goes to Mikee Arroyo and Transport remains with Tugade: both are the price of coalition and succession. The 2010–16 era names for economic team is necessary to calm the markets: at this point, whether they have accepted or not is so relevant.
Dr. Salvana (who at least has internalized the Marcos approach to public debate) and Prof. Carlos (perfect choice if you expect your country to be an international pariah anyway) would almost be as laughable as Rep. Marcoleta except the latter is obviously the nominee of his sect. Definitely it was worth it for him, to give up a doomed senate candidacy, by abandoning his run for office so as not to fall under the appointments ban for one year for losing candidates.
Again this is a cluster of trial balloons. The problem is the faithful will applaud anything or anyone the “prospective President-elect” decides to appoint; but there is one expectation, at least for the older generation, that for now remains unfulfilled: the expectation that Marcos 2.0 would somehow be like Marcos 1.0 in the excellence of Cabinet appointments.
A final reminder of a note I got a day or two ago: “Initial top appts. to watch for a sense of where the President-elect’s going:
1. DND, DILG, DOJ, DFA, DOF, NEDA (national sec and econ)
2. SSS, GSIS, DBP, PHILHEALTH (financial inst graft centers)
3. BIR, CUSTOMS, LTO (collection/enforcement graft centers)”
#ProyektoPilipino episode 14
“Ang proyekto ng Pilipinas, hindi nagtatapos sa eleksiyon. Kasama pa rin tayo sa proyekto ng demokrasya, manalo o matalo man ang ating mga binoto.”
Not everyone comes out of the election a winner. And with the results out, the country is split yet again: some are victorious, some are grieving. But no matter the results, Fr. Tito Caluag and his trio of distinguished thinkers — Manolo Quezon, Leloy Claudio, and Carlo Santiago — remind us that the project of our country is still young. All nationhood goes through triumphs and tribulations — and the result may not always to be our liking. What shouldn’t change is our active involvement in the continuous journey and evolution of our democracy so that when we leave it to the next generation, we can say that we did our best. We left our legacy.
“Kailangan nating pakinggan ang boses ng sambayanan dahil iisa lamang tayong bansa.”
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Consul: Abigail Salta
Praetors: Carlos v. Jugo, Ramon Rufino, Arbet Bernardo
Aediles: Steven Rood, Willi, Cleve Arguelles
Quaestors: Joseph Planta, Giancarlo Angulo, Annie Inojo,
Sam Chittick, Patrice P
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