Redemption through dissolution

By Artchil B. Fernandez

Inday is currently trying to bite her elbow for defying Tatay. In the last quarter of 2021, a naïve Sara Duterte was tricked by the wily Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) to be Bongbong Marcos’ (BBM) vice president to spite her father. That fateful decision of Inday proved to be the undoing of the Duterte clan, its gravest miscalculation if not its costliest mistake. It is a terrible blunder the Dutertes may not recover sans deus ex-machina.

Prior to Sara Duterte’s change of heart due to GMA’s machination, she was the leading presidential candidate in the 2022 election with 28 percent and BBM was a far second with 13 percent in June 2021 Pulse Asia survey. Even after declaring she was disinterested to be president, Inday remained the leading candidate in the September 2021 Pulse Asia survey with 20 percent while BBM stayed a distant second with 15 percent.

In a desperate attempt to persuade his daughter to change her mind, Du30 staged a high political drama, fielding Bato de la Rosa as his candidate for president then substituting him with Bong Go who eventually withdrew. But Inday ignored Tatay, listened instead to GMA’s advice hence shredding the elder Duterte’s succession scheme.

Aside from dynastic interest, protection was Du30’s main concern. A Leni Robredo presidency will not only undo his major policies and programs – from war on drugs to pivot to China, but return the country to the fold of the International Criminal Court (ICC) which terrifies him. Being hauled to The Hague is Du30’s worst nightmare.

Du30 was never comfortable with BBM. His political instinct tells him he is only secure and safe in a Sara Duterte presidency. He never publicly endorsed much more embraced BBM but grudgingly hoped his daughter did not make a colossal mistake.

A year and a half after the UniTeam won, Du30 to his consternation is discovering what he dreaded the most is becoming real. It is now dawning to him that his political intuition is correct, but things are no longer under his control.

UniTeam was forged with a single purpose – prevent the “pinklawans,” the rebranded “dilawans” from winning the presidency. Beyond this, factions in the UniTeam have their own agenda. Apparently, the agenda of each bloc diverge. Redemption is the prime obsession of the Marcoses. Protection is paramount to the Dutertes while GMA is fixated with being relevant by retaining influence and power.

The current political landscape reveals the Marcoses’ way of redemption it seems is through the dissolution of the Dutertes with GMA as collateral damage in this tectonic clash. The Marcoses are redeeming themselves at the expense of the Dutertes.

Burying the sins of the dictatorship of Marcos senior is the top priority of BBM. He is presented with a golden opportunity through the wrongdoings of his predecessor. Du30’s transgressions handed BBM a convenient excuse to rebrand his family’s name and win the favor of the community of nations, particularly the United States and Europe.

Philippines was a sore to the international community during Du30’s bloody and gory rule. His war on drugs which slaughtered thousands horrified and outraged the global community. Du30’s aversion and complete disregard of human rights appalled the West, made worse by his China turn. Joining the populist authoritarian club only solidified Du30’s ignominious status as an international pariah.

By undoing the terrible things Du30 did, BBM is given an excellent break, a once-in-a-life-time chance to be in the good graces of the West while obscuring the horrible transgressions of his father’s dictatorship. The 3,257 extrajudicial killings of Marcos senior regime pale in comparison to the 6,252 (official police figure) or 30,000 (human rights groups estimate) butchered in Du30’s war on drugs.

Upon assuming the presidency, BBM decoupled his administration from Du30’s bloody approach to the problem of illegal drugs. He also reversed Du30’s pivot to China and swiveled back to the West. Recently, BBM is apparently giving in to the non-negotiable demands of the European Union (EU) as the country negotiates the renewal of its Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+) status which allows the duty-free entry of at least 6,200 Philippine products to Europe.

The two EU demands are the release of Sen. Leila de Lima and the cooperation of the country with ICC investigation on Du30’s war on drugs or even rejoining the ICC. The first condition has been met. The second call is on the process of being satisfied.

From hardline position of disengagement, BBM this week said his administration is studying the possibility of rejoining ICC. Three resolutions are lately filed in Congress urging the current administration to cooperate with ICC investigation on Du30’s war on drugs. The ground is being laid for a possible reversal of the ICC policy.

BBM will certainly reap goodwill and praises from the West should the second demand of EU in the GPS+ renewal is met. But this will be gained by sacrificing the Dutertes. Aside from the elder Duterte, there is a possibility daughter Sara and son Paolo will be included in ICC charge sheet with witnesses saying they took part in their father’s flagship program. Handing the Dutertes to ICC will give BBM huge political bonanza.

Karma plays a cruel joke. What Du30 frightfully feared the “pinklawans” will do, the Marcoses are turning into reality. He paved the way for the Marcoses’ return to power and even honored Marcos senior with a “hero’s” burial. Du30 is rewarded for his effort with the political dissolution or decimation of his family that is now the ticket of the Marcoses to redemption, a key to their rebranding and rehabilitation. The Marcoses pretending the “hero” while casting the Dutertes as the hated villains.

“Woke” Marcoses cancel the gullible Dutertes. Poetic justice at its best!