FIRING LINE: PDP-Laban tug o’ war

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Is the split of the PDP-Laban party the worst thing to happen to the Duterte bandwagon?

It depends on who you’re asking, but as for rival parties who faithfully kept the opposition lamp burning – they are now wide-eyed spectators wearing a naughty grin. Not to be unkind, let’s say that the “yellows” won’t be blinking any second now, lest they miss the implosion of the once indestructible ruling party.

I am trying to figure out which group ultimately wrests control of the party. Is it the organic members led by Sen. Koko Pimentel, son of its co-founder, the late Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr., or the merry-men who jumped into the party with Duterte in the last elections?

That’s for Comelec to decide, perhaps in mid-August – the deadline for registered parties to submit their documents for the elections.

At this point, expect allies of PDP-Laban – members of regional parties, partylists, independents, and even major political parties – to focus on self-preservation at the sight of cracks in the ruling party’s ship. Some will gamble with the Duterte franchise if they’re waging a national campaign that demands money and banks on the equity of the incumbent.

But for local politicians whose aim is to win a local campaign, jumping ship and aligning with strong political forces in their respective regions would be, to my mind, a convenient step-away from the polarizing leader they’ve supported since 2016.

After all, if Duterte’s men end up winning over the PDP-Laban leadership, can’t we admit the circumstances are quite as villainous as a pirate takeover?

For that, I commiserate with Sen. Koko. However, I need to point out that while his principle of respecting party processes and its original members over the stealthy designs of the Duterte crew is spotless, there’s not much direction he could offer moving forward into 2022 by selling Sen. Manny Pacquiao as PDP-Laban’s standard-bearer. Can you save the party on the premise that Pacquiao’s presidential dreams were dashed?

Clearly, though, the President has lost his foothold on PDP-Laban by declaring (or “undeclaring”) his intention to run for vice-president. In doing so, the Duterte wrecking train has lost considerable steam and his senile statements last Saturday like his promise “to bring sacks and sacks of money” for the campaign won’t cover that up.

Shamelessly, he also admitted that his vice-presidential aspirations are premised on gaining immunity from prosecution. The only thing more pathetic than that, I guess, is if we Filipinos vote for a candidate whose very reason for seeking the second-highest office in the land is to shield himself from legal reckoning.

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