FIRING LINE: Leni stepping up

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Suppose there is one thing 1Sambayan has accomplished by releasing the names of its six nominees for a unified opposition slate for next year’s presidential elections. In that case, it is allowing Vice President Leni Robredo to blossom into a more, if not the most, presidentiable choice.

Before I get knocked off my chair by DDS die-hards, the fact remains that she is still the nation’s second-highest-ranking leader. That means every day Duterte stays healthy, or not, in his tenure as president, Madam Leni is on standby, a heartbeat shy of holding the keys to Malacanang.

That holds true for her until the last day of Duterte’s rule. By no means is her constitutionally-mandated right to that seat of succession diminished by any present-day survey or popularity contest that goes in the way of the President’s daughter.

No one has a right by succession to the six-year term of the next president. It is not a crown that can be inherited. Perhaps, that’s what the nation should remember because the power to place a new face in the Palace rests on the way we vote.

Speaking of popularity, the old man Digong might continue to enjoy support from his steady followers, as recent surveys suggest. Still, it does not mean that if given a chance to run again for president (which is thankfully impossible) against a unified opposition candidate like, let’s say, VP Leni, that he would hack it again. Debatable? Yes, that is precisely why only a head-to-head election would tell. But that’s not going to happen.

What will happen is that Duterte would anoint someone among his allies to run in the hope of continuing his brand of governance. And if we stop pretending to wonder who his choice would be, then most of us could assume it would be his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Earlier this week, “Inday” Sara tweeted back at VP Leni with a somewhat cryptic message, saying: “There will be a proper time to attack.” I take that as a personal confirmation on the part of the lady mayor that she would run for president and looks forward to facing the VP as her adversary.

On Madam Leni’s part, I take it, too, that her comments on the way Davao City has struggled with the pandemic – which naturally irked Inday Sara – is her bringing the battle to the heart of the “DDS party.” A strictly female affair for May 2022 sounds good to me. And if the latest “PiliPinas 2022” survey is accurate, VP Leni is already ahead and the race has not started yet.

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