By Artchil B. Fernandez
The bardagulan between Team Agila and Team Tigre is worsening. New skirmishes constantly pop up it is difficult to keep track of them. One thing is clear – the unraveling of the UniTeam is accelerating to a point-of-no-return.
A coup or destabilization plot against the present administration is brewing within the ranks of the military. No less than Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Brawner disclosed that a destabilization plot is being hatched by retired military officials during a change of command ceremony in Zamboanga City at the end of last week.
The story was immediately denied as soon as it hit the headlines. The military chief according to AFP spokesperson Col. Medel Aguilar “was simply misquoted.”
Coup or destabilization rumor is linked by the defenders of the administration particularly in social media to Du30. The elder Duterte admitted meeting some retired generals but denied he is planning a coup. “I really do not know how I was dragged into this,” Du30 claimed. “What I said during our meeting, among others, was as long as there is no serious issue of corruption [there would be no coup],” he flatly said.
In the past weeks, Du30 came out from retirement to actively take part in national conversation on various issues. The father was forced to be in public limelight after his daughter, Sara Duterte was savagely trashed both in traditional and social media on her P650 million controversial funds as vice president and education secretary. Defending his daughter, the Tatay went on rampage, attacking those who he thinks is responsible for the political misery of Inday.
Congress got the brunt of Du30’s ire after it stripped the vice president of her confidential funds. He called the House “rotten” and a “nest of corruption.”
Elder Duterte also lamented the absence of opposition in the current political environment, asserting that a lively, active, and vocal opposition is needed in a democracy. This autocrat in the winter of his life forgot that during his rule he decimated the opposition. Du30 suddenly saw the value of an opposition now that he is out of power and is being cunningly outmaneuvered by the competition. More astounding, Du30 is positioning himself as the “opposition” to the current administration.
Du30’s tirades against the House did not go unanswered. The first thing Congress did when it resumed session this week is approve Resolution 1414 calling to uphold “the integrity and honor of the House of Representatives and expressing appreciation, solidarity and support to the leadership of Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.”
During the deliberation of the resolution, Du30 was specifically singled out as the one who attacked the integrity of the House. A fired-up Speaker Romualdez vowed to defend the House. “Let it be said, never must we countenance or allow others, not so likely-minded individuals who choose to malign or put down the image of this institution and dictate the direction we must go,” Romualdez declared.
To demonstrate that Romualdez means business, members of the House who did not sign Res. 1414 were removed from their positions. Ousted as deputy speakers were allies of Du30, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) and Davao Rep. Isidro Ungab. This is the second humiliation of GMA. Last May, she was demoted as senior deputy speaker. Now she is stripped of her post.
Coup rumors and GMA’s second degradation are among the latest episodes of the Team Agila versus Team Agila political saga. The rivalry between the erstwhile allies has spilled over to the Senate that is now deliberating the 2024 national budget.
In another blow to Team Agila, the Senate announced it removed all intelligence and confidential funds of civilian offices including that of the vice president and education secretary in an Executive Session. But the decision has a twist. It was leaked in the media that nine senators actually wanted to restore Sara Duterte’s confidential funds. When the names of the nine were made public, some of them went berserk, calling the leak an act of betrayal.
The showdown in the Senate indicates where the wind is blowing regarding Sara Duterte’s confidential. Sensing the inevitable, the Vice President withdrew her pursuit of confidential funds. The loss of Du30’s daughter secret funds is the final nail in the coffin of UniTeam. It marks the eventual breakup of Team Agila and Team Tigre. From henceforth it will be all-out-war. The gauntlet has been thrown.
Epic fight of Team Agila and Team Tigre will shape the political landscape in the next five years and will set the tone of national discourse. Team Tigre has the advantage since it holds the levers of power and has the resources of the incumbency as its disposal. However, should the socio-economic condition of the country turns worse in the coming years, Team Agila can seize the situation and convert it into an opportunity.
Several major issues can be the flashpoint of the battle royale between the two camps. One is foreign policy – Du30’s China pivot versus Bongbong Marcos (BBM) swivel back to America. Team Agila is rabid pro-China while Team Tigre is working hard to be in the good graces of the West.
Another key point of collision is the entry of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the country. From hard NO, the present administration has expressed openness to ICC’s investigation. ICC is Team Tigre’s Damocles sword on Team Agila. Enforcing the expected ICC warrants of arrest next year is Team Tigre’s most lethal weapon against Team Agila.
Unity of thieves based on selfish interest does not work.