In choosing Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano as running-mate in the 2016 elections, Davao City Mayor Duterte wins points with Filipinos who want iron-hand governance to include corrupt government officials.
Duterte last week filed his certificate of candidacy (CoC) as presidential candidate for the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), replacing anti-crime activist Martin Dino. Just minutes earlier, his daughter, Sara, replaced him as lone mayoralty candidate of the major southern Philippine city.
Whether or not the Commission on Elections (Comelec) approves Duterte’s presidential bid is still up in the air.
But already, he’s set the political landscape aflame. Revelations that his wife’s ongoing battle with cancer was the cause of early dithering over electoral plans can only win sympathy for the feisty Duterte, known as “The Punisher”.
Aides and supporters believe those disillusioned by months of shadow boxing will come back once campaign season starts.
Since they expressed intentions of running for higher office, Cayetano and fellow senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. have wooed Duterte.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, another presidential aspirant, picked Marcos as her running mate, but the son of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos has yet to name her as his principal.
Those figures made it easier for Duterte to choose Cayetano, despite Marcos’ clout in northern Philippines and his lead in Metro Manila.
Duterte is close to both men. But he cites Cayetano’s doggedness in courting him. He also acknowledges the younger man’s capabilities. Marcos was once a governor; Cayetano, like Escudero, has a solid legislative record.
University of Sto. Tomas political science professor Edmund Tayao believes the lawmaker from Taguig City provides “finesse, a soft touch, which many think is lacking with the mayor.”
Duterte won’t lose sleep over finesse. The shadow of the Marcos dictatorship gave Cayetano the edge.
While Duterte was a former activist and is close to the underground Left, he has his own human rights baggage. A section of Filipino advocates against corruption oppose his candidacy on these grounds.
On the other hand, many who like his strongman persona dislike Marcos because of his family’s record for massive corruption. Part of Duterte’s charm is due to his perceived distaste for corruption.
And there is the Muslim vote.
Cayetano was very hostile towards the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the biggest Muslim rebel group, during hearings on the 2015 Mamasapano clash that killed 44 elite cops.
But Marcos is no different. The chair of the Senate committee in charge of the draft Bangsamoro Basi Law authored a version that turns the measure to slush. Many Mindanao Muslims still remember massive bombings and attacks on their communities during his father’s two-decade rule.
“Cayetano is a good prop,” Norodin Alonto Lucman said in a Facebook exchange.
“Honestly, do we have a choice?,” said Lucman, a former guerrilla now running for the Senate. “Bongbong Marcos is a liability in Mindanao although it was assumed that he will deliver the North and Western Visayas votes.”
“Visayans and Mindanaoans will vote for Duterte, hands down,” he added. Cayetano is a good prop but he might learn a thing or two about humility with Mayor Duterte.”
Free for all
Escudero – also not a friend of the MILF — has more than double the preference rate of Marcos and Cayetano in Mindanao and enjoys an even bigger lead in the Visayas.
Few voters see their votes for the country’s most powerful posts as a package deal.
MILF-influenced voters can always choose Rep. Leni Robredo, staunch backer of the BBL. But the Bangsamoro under the MILF’s influence also dislike Mar Roxas despite their leaders’ ties to President Benigno Aquino III.
Cayetano’s ratings may get a boost from Duterte. Duterte may cement the support of Filipinos who like him but are leery of the Marcos name. Then again, those who like Marcos may be expected to vote for him, too. #30