‘Diskarte’ or buffoonery?
Last Friday, Oct. 8, was the deadline for the filing of candidacy for elective positions in next year’s polls. And we saw that, indeed, politics in this country is also akin to the entertainment field, where people play roles and act these out—starting with their filing of candidacies for certain positions.
Among the 97 individuals who filed their candidacies for the presidency are people who claimed they are there to follow their respective political parties’ decisions. In other words, they are like puppets that can be controlled by whoever made the decision for them to run. If anyone among this group wins, he will not be running the country justly and fairly as he would like, but as how his kingmaker would make decisions. And he will act on unjust and unlawful decisions even if these are contrary to democratic governance and the rule of law.
Neophyte Sen. Bato dela Rosa is one such example. In his interviews last Friday, he repeatedly claimed that he wants to become president because that is what his party, the PDP-Laban Cusi faction, is telling him to do. “And like a good soldier, I will willingly do as I am told.” His participation in the list of presidential wannabes caught everyone off guard, as he never figured in any pre-filing advertisements or even in the electoral surveys conducted for “winnable” presidential bets.
When asked by CNN’s news anchor Pia Hontiveros on this last-minute decision to seek the presidential post, Senator Bato claimed that this move was already in the works a long time back, “matagal na itong pinag-usapan namin” but it was kept a secret to thwart any criticism of him as a presidential wannabe. With his characteristic smirk, he remarked, “diskarte ‘yan Pia. Kung maaga ka kasi mag-announce, sisirain ka talaga eh.”
As a former police director general, Dela Rosa is an expert in police matters, including possibly co-creating an enabling environment for extrajudicial killings to thrive not only in Davao City but also in other parts of the country as part of President Duterte’s deadly war on drugs, code-named “Oplan Tokhang.” But as far as legislation is concerned, he is still learning the ropes of the game. So far, he has not shown any significant contribution as a legislator. Dela Rosa has always assented to Mr. Duterte’s stance on the war on drugs—at one point the President gave a shoot-to-kill order to the police—from the time he was PNP director general until he became one of the top five senators elected in 2019, claiming it has been a “very effective” campaign.
Dela Rosa claimed he was chosen the PDP-Laban standard-bearer because of his deep involvement with Oplan Tokhang. As such, he is the only one who can ensure the continuity of the Duterte “legacy” on this matter.
When asked if he would consent to a decision for him to withdraw his candidacy in favor of presidential daughter Sara to become the PDP-Laban’s standard-bearer, he said he is willing to step aside. He affirmed he could still go back to being senator as he has only served for three years; he still has three more years to go to complete his term. But Dela Rosa also noted that it would be a good idea if Sara will replace him.
Sara Duterte is the organizer of a new political party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago (Party for Change). Its members are still hopeful that Sara will change her mind and eventually make it to the substitution deadline on Nov. 15.
This practice of allowing substitutions of those who have earlier filed for candidacy is a mockery of elections as a democratic process. Clearly, such a guideline was designed to control the outcomes of the country’s elections.
I agree, Senator Bato, that the decision to keep your presidential candidacy a secret was a “diskarte”—but it was a move to make elections an exercise in buffoonery. At this stage of our history, we can’t afford to have more buffoons in both the Senate and House of Representatives, and even in Malacañang by mid-2022.
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