Is there a break in the UniTeam this early in the game? Most likely yes. Back in the campaign leadup to the 2022 national elections, then President Rodrigo Duterte read the political tea leaves right and knew that then candidate Bongbong Marcos couldn’t win the presidency without his daughter Inday Sara Duterte in tow. His biggest political miscalculation was believing his favorite child would obey his mandate that she run for the presidency with Bong Go as her runningmate or worst, with her as the running mate. Inday wouldn’t have any of this not after she demonstrated her power by ousting the long-time political and personal ally of her father Bebot Alvarez. This is the reason why there is this much political noise early in the game.
It will be the first year of Marcos in office yet if you’re a politics junkie, you get the feeling that the crown isn’t firmly in place on his head. This doesn’t mean that there will be a coup against Marcos. It’s just that he’s not able to control the competing factions in his coalition so he can properly govern, by Philippine standards. Marcos remains popular because of the Duterte alliance. This is the confirmation that Filipinos are done and over with the Yellowidiots and have cast their lot with the Marcos-Arroyo-Duterte combine. Inday doesn’t take to umbrage kindly which is why she quit Lakas as soon as it demoted former Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) in the House of Representatives. As columnist Lito Banayo points out in his Manila Standard piece “Deconstructing the ‘disunity’”, Inday’s statement is like a coded message to BBM.
On the matter of timing, it comes at about the same time the president appointed Gilbert Teodoro as defense secretary, a position that supposedly Sara wanted, as stated by then presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos?
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And Senadora Imee, the president’s elder sister, take note once again, has not been totally supportive of her brother’s presidential initiatives, whether on his pro-US of A expansion of foreign military presence or the Maharlika fund.
Neither the senator nor the vice-president have been endorsing persons for appointive positions in an administration that till now has many vacancies yet to fill.
The vice-president finds the antics of the congressmen she labeled “sycophants” as “quite amusing.”
Make no mistake, however, for when her time comes, she will not forget, and she will not be amused.
But the latter part of her statement is gist for intrigue, where she reiterates that the administration of the president is “strong and stable.”
This is why when asked for a reaction to Duterte’s resignation from Lakas, the President could only say, she is what she is. Marcos’s problem is his political party going into the 2025 midterm election doesn’t exist. For the first time there was no mass exodus into the president’s party. The Partido Federal’s membership hasn’t increased even if its candidate won the presidency. Simply put, most everyone stayed in their respective political flags of convenience. There hasn’t even been a mass defection to Lakas even if Sara was a member. The coalition is holding because the powers that be declare that it should be the case; for the time being. But in a banana republic where money and politics or politics and money are interchangeable, the opportunity to grab the top spot isn’t one to be passed on. This is why there is that commissioned survey.
Marcos has made all the right moves to cement his hold on power. The oligarchs are happy. He has pivoted to the US and has been rewarded with a White House audience. Gibo Teodoro is his defense secretary which means he’s the one in charge of selling the new pension fund and making sure to squeeze the most out of Uncle Sam for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization. The Duterte-Romualdez falling out is not irreparable but it does present a risk going into 2028. This is why Imee isn’t completely in her brother’s inner circle. She is the bridge to Inday and GMA. Sara’s political evolution isn’t complete yet. She needs to hone her skillset further but that won’t happen until she ends her estrangement from her father. She isn’t like her father who wields intellectual depth and can stand alone and by any comment he makes about any issue put before him. Her team isn’t the best of the best either as proven by its composition at DepEd. The education portfolio is a ticking time bomb. Defense wasn’t given to her not because she would launch a coup against Marcos but because she wouldn’t be palatable to Uncle Sam.
To my mind the disunity in the UniTeam has been brought about also by Marcos’ inner circle. There is no bastonero like Bong Go and Bingbong Medialdea who kept order and prevented the projection of the President as weak. Credit also goes to Duterte who didn’t need a spokesperson to communicate with the public. On the outside, everyone is still being civil but there’s no doubt that the knives are out and moves are being made. This is why we don’t have much of a future because so much time is wasted on the pursuit of money and power through politics that there is no focus on proper governance, reforms and long-term planning. At my age, I’ve seen everything and change isn’t in the horizon. Not any time soon.
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