Unity on Crack?
What are they in power for? Perhaps it is high time that we should learn the hard lesson that politics is more than cult-like worship of personalities.
Mar 10, 20244 min read
Unity on Crack?

Editorial Cartoon: Clem Rocacorba

Last January 28, 2024, while the Marcos administration launched its Bagong Pilipinas campaign as its brand of leadership, former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and his allies held their own ‘prayer’ rally in Davao City condemning the controversial signature gathering for a people’s initiative to amend the 1987 Constitution with a brow-raising title: “One Nation, One Opposition”.


It was not solely an anti-charter change nor a prayer rally after all. His son, Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte, reminded President Marcos that it was his father who buried Marcos’ father in the Libingan ng mga Bayani before calling for the president’s resignation. He admitted to being hurt. This comes after rumors that the administration will cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate his predecessor's bloody drug war. In an expletive-laden tirade, the elder Duterte accused and lashed out at Marcos, “We have a drug addict for a President!”. Interestingly, Duterte’s scion, Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio attended both events. Speculations continue to linger on the rift within the Uniteam.


It can be recalled that the Marcos-Duterte Uniteam came to power with an overwhelming popular mandate in the last 2022 national elections. A political analyst characterized the political marriage of the two prominent political clans, an unholy union brokered by ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, a departure from an anarchic competition of elites into the path of unity. The tandem proved to be a formidable force that secured a landslide victory through the combined strength of populist appeal, political machinery, myth-making machine, and local political elite alliances – an awesome epitome, height, and perpetuation of dynasty, dynasty, and dynasties.


Nevertheless, before the elections, the elder Duterte was not shy in expressing his hopes that his daughter, now Vice President, would run for the presidency. After all, she was fronting the surveys. He has never endorsed Marcos and has been vocal of his disdain calling him a spoiled child and a weak leader. When his daughter announced her bid for the vice presidency, the disgruntled Duterte said, “I’m sure this run of Sara (as Vice President) is a decision of Bongbong’s (Marcos Jr.’s) camp”.


The honeymoon period, like many marriages, appeared to be short-lived. First, last May 2023, Sara Duterte resigned from her party, the LAKAS-CMD, after the House of Representatives led by the President's cousin, House Speaker Martin Romualdez sacked her political patroness, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from senior deputy speaker to deputy speaker. This was apparently after she refused to sign a House resolution that upholds the integrity and honor of the House and solidarity with the leadership of the Speaker.


Second, Romualdez-led House stripped the VP of her controversial confidential funds in the 2024 appropriations alongside other civilian agencies caving in to mounting public pressure in light of reports that the OVP spent Php 125 million of confidential funds in just 11 days. In response, the elder Duterte lambasted the House calling it the "most rotten government institution.” Subsequently, overwhelming members of the House rushed to behind Romualdez. Even the allies of the ex-President could not take it, jumping alliances from PDP-Laban, the party of the elder Duterte, to LAKAS-CMD. Later on, VP Duterte-Carpio announced that she will drop the request for confidential funds citing that the issue has been divisive.


Third, two committees of the House approved and consolidated resolutions that encouraged the President to cooperate with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the investigation of the human rights abuses committed during the drug war of his predecessor. When asked for comments by the media, Marcos answered that he was studying the proposal.


Furthermore, the House seemed to answer the attacks of the elder Duterte. For instance, it probed the franchise of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) which provided a platform for Duterte and his cabals, for alleged violations that subsequently led to the suspension of its franchise. During the hearing of the Committee on Legislative Franchises, well-known Duterte supporters and SMNI anchors Jeffrey “Ka Eric” Celis and Lorraine Badoy were cited for contempt by the committee. More so, Romualdez’s allies flagged the whooping increase of the budget allocated to the congressional district of the ex-President’s son, Rep. Paolo Duterte, during his father’s tenure.


VP Duterte-Carpio seems to continue to sit on the fence in all this brouhaha while emphasizing a good working relationship with the President. After her younger brother’s remark calling for the resignation of the President, the VP surmised that she is determined to continue her work as the DepEd Secretary and will prioritize the country over politics. However, an instance can be noted where Duterte-Carpio publicly expressed her disagreement; when the Marcos administration agreed to resume peace talks with the communist rebels, she called the move an “agreement with the devil” and pleaded with the President to reconsider the decision.  


Yet amidst politicians bickering, the Philippines is confronted with many pressing problems such as the continuing aggression of China in the West Philippine Sea, poverty, high prices of basic commodities, a crisis in education, surmounting debt, devastating impacts of natural disasters and the vulnerability of the country in the face of climate crisis such as anticipated El Nino phenomenon.


Analysts anticipate that fissures will widen in the upcoming 2025 midterm elections. It will more likely be a litmus test that will reveal the “unity” in the Uniteam. On social media platforms, rifts between the so-called Marcos loyalists and the Duterte Diehard Supporters (DDS), pitting each other with tirades, intrigues, and conspiracies.


What are they in power for? Perhaps it is high time that we should learn the hard lesson that politics is more than cult-like worship of personalities. There can be no unity without shared values. There can be no unity when personal and familial interests prevail over fidelity to the country and the welfare of the people. It is beyond strategic convenience or realpolitik. A sham unity is not a force but a footnote to farce.


The nation is watching.

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