Slip-slide & isolation plays

CTALKCito Beltran – The Philippine Star

September 20, 2021 | 12:00am

If you keep your ear to the ground, you might be able to hear the horses running your way, at least that’s what they used to say in those old cowboys and Indians TV shows. But nowadays you don’t even have to keep your ear to the ground or eavesdrop on political conversations to know or figure out what some candidates, who claim they are not candidates, have up their sleeves.

The name of the game apparently is to play coy, pretend not to be interested or sure but do the rounds, meet up with businessmen who have already made provisions for political downpayments, collect some cold hard cash to pay for surveys aimed at increasing one’s bankability and then go back to those same “investors” for even more cash for the campaign proper. At this stage, it may be good to remind our “practical minded” businessmen to just make sure that the horses running your way are actually running in the national elections. Many campaign donors have seen their money achieve nothing but enrich a candidate after the horse took their money and ran… laughing all the way to the bank. I remember one presidential hopeful who was so sure he would win that he allegedly decided to stash a sizeable fortune for safe keeping instead of spending all out to insure his victory. He lost the presidency but retired like the cat that ate the canary.

If you have to fork out P10 million-plus for a so-called candidate, it might be a good idea to assign a designated accountant/cashier to be imbedded in the candidate’s team, just like we imbed journalists or reporters in the battlefield. I remember a rich uncle to a candidate who allegedly released money in relation to the rankings of his nephew during the campaign. When they got to the final stretch, the uncle simply decided they would not throw good money after bad. Too bad for the nephew but at least the uncle still runs the family business. Smart man.

In the last ten days, I unintentionally got close and personal with a couple of veteran politicians and learned that not only is Isko Moreno running for president, he reportedly will be running with Senator Grace Poe as his candidate for VP. To top it off, Moreno’s team reportedly has already put together a list of potential Cabinet members to show how well prepared they are for the campaign and the presidency. Isko has everything to gain from Grace Poe, who can surely gather warm bodies who supported her in the past as well as raise cold cash from the business community. Poe, on the other hand, has nothing to lose because going on the campaign trail refreshes her public presence, becoming VP would be a political promotion and if she loses as VP she can still “slip” back to being a senator.

Meanwhile, the “Duterte for VP” is all for show and temporary. Yes, only one Duterte can run for national office and my source tells me it will be the old “slide in” tactic where President Digong will eventually bow out graciously and let the younger duo run because he could not find a suitable presidentiable tandem, and if they can agree on a Sara-Bongbong tandem. Even former Congressman Rolando Andaya insists that the Sara-Bongbong pairing will happen, which was apparently the reason why Andaya has been pushing hard to convince Vice President Leni Robredo to run in the local elections as governor. The pairing will focus on the youth and will probably point out that their closest and strongest competition are two “seniors” in the Senate who are out of touch with the problems of the younger generation.

On the other hand, the veteran tandem of Ping Lacson and Tito Sotto cannot be taken lightly because their seniority and experience in politics and public service will appeal to the “bosses,” the business owners, the decision makers. In terms of a sense of continuity and stability, the Lacson-Sotto tandem has the hands down advantage, not to mention their several decades in public office, particularly the Senate. In terms of institutional endorsements there is the formidable support that can come from the “Academy,” meaning the PMA and the PNP, and last but not the least the reach and the public familiarity with the legendary “Eat Bulaga.” From Aparri to Jolo, the TV program has aired since 1979 or roughly 42 years!!!  Some will scoff at this but elections and campaigns are mostly emotional events and processes.

This leaves us with the remaining “outliers” – VP Leni and Senator Manny Pacquiao. Judging from how VP Leni has conducted herself, she is clearly behaving as a “candidate” while Senator Pacquiao has been declaring to the world that he is a “candidate.” The fact of the matter is they both lack something and that something is each other. By themselves, they are hard pressed to offer political substance. They are good and honest people, they work hard and are successful in their own rights but by themselves they’re politically weak. “Two are better than one, for if either of them falls, one can help the other up” (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10). Manny Pacquiao has remained immovable about his goal but he should reread the words and actions of Jonathan the son of King Saul, John the Baptist and St. Paul the apostle. All of them stepped aside with humility to allow God’s will to be done.

Still on “outliers,” you may have noticed that President Duterte is doing an “isolation play” on Sen. Dick Gordon. This one-on-one tactic might be good in basketball but in politics what it has done is call people’s attention to the track record of Sen. Gordon, who is now getting good reviews and positive remarks on social media. Yes, God does works in mysterious ways indeed.

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