Yesterday’s oath taking of local officials for inclusion into the administration PDP-Laban party held at the Plaza Independencia in Cebu City was an event that would eventually come and the only surprise was that it didn’t happen a year earlier.
There are at least two reasons why the oath taking was held, foremost of which was the Duterte administration’s determination to muster local political support in the country’s fifth largest voting population.
The other reason stemmed from President Rodrigo Duterte’s long unfulfilled plan to steam roll the federalization of the Philippines.
The only stumbling block so far is the Senate whose members are still halved between the administration and the former ruling Liberal Party (LP).
That scenario is about to change two years from now when the national and local elections will be held and yesterday’s rally was supposed to be a show of force to dramatize support for the administration.
The pressure was on to the LP Cebu loyalists to either switch sides, or as Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III mentioned last Thursday, create a working coalition with the PDP-Laban, which has managed to snag officials affiliated with the One Cebu group of the Garcias.
There will be some interplay there but the biggest targets of the PDP-Laban would have to be the Bakud group of the Duranos who practically lord it over Cebu’s 5th district; and the Alayon group of Talisay City Mayor Eduardo Gullas whose alliance has historically been given to whoever can deliver the most benefit to the local party.
The Cebuanos and Cebu residents are under no illusion about the reasons why Cebu local officials are running all over themselves to join PDP-Laban. Like the platypus, tags like “balambing” or turncoat wash over their backs like so much water, it doesn’t even faze them anymore.
For this they know that whoever sits in the Palace and the halls of Congress control the purse strings and the resources needed to run a successful reelection in 2019.
This Davide knows and even with the Garcias in tow, he will consider aligning with the PDP-Laban as a viable option knowing that anytime Bakud and Alayon go over to the other side, he is like a captain with a ship but no crew and officers to sail it with.
But even with its admittedly strong ratings and massing of support from local officials in Cebu and elsewhere, the Duterte administration may not be as invulnerable as it thinks it is. Having local officials at your side doesn’t always translate to outpouring of voter support except perhaps in the countryside where voters can be lured with the promise of easy money.
That said, the voters can decide for themselves whether or not these officials whose loyalties are as transient and fickle as people changing outfits on any given occasion are worth voting for again.
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