Last week, by design or coincidence, two major political events occurred on the same day. Both were preparatory for the 2022 elections.
The PDP Laban proclaimed its national official candidates, while Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III formally launched their bid for president and vice president, respectively. The latter was taped, which could be the new norm in political campaigning using digital technology and less face-to-face promotion. Both were eagerly awaited by political observers watching how the discerning public will react.
As a caveat, how the public judges the two events has very little impact, if at all on the vote factor. But it reveals meticulous preparation of electoral combatants, which tells one of the capabilities of parties to stage and manage big events and, to a certain degree, future challenges.
The PDP Laban faction of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi in a very brief ceremony proclaimed Senator Christopher “Bong” Go and President Rodrigo Duterte as their presidential and vice-presidential candidates, respectively. For reasons not clear to the public, the former was not physically present but participated virtually, which somehow dampened the enthusiasm of attendees.
This kept people wondering whether Bong Go knows he is just being used as a prop in a grand political zarzuela, as some gadflies claimed. They listed, likewise, their initial senatorial candidates, composed mostly of Cabinet members.
The two events became subjects of public conversation.
Many say it was no contest and there was no point for comparison. The Lacson-Sotto presentation stole the thunder, so to speak. It was well-organized with a touch of showbiz. The choreography, script, lighting and sequencing were worthy of an Oscar award. But the uninitiated did not know the show was earlier taped, meaning, if there were slips and miscues, they were promptly edited by the director before being shown.
The spectacular show was not surprising considering that Sotto is a veteran in show business. In fact, he is a creation of the industry. The success of the decades-running noontime television show, Eat Bulaga, is attributed to Sotto, which could be a big factor in the election, considering the “masa” followers of the show. But can the popularity of Sotto rub on to Lacson? Also, will the glitz and razzle-dazzle of the launch bring them more votes? Will they not decimate the opposition base?
So far, they have not laid down their platform except to say “enough” of Duterte and a promise to do everything opposite what Duterte has done. Do we see the hand of Lito Banayo, a topnotch public relations practitioner who sacrificed his ambassadorial position to help his long-time friend Lacson?
The PDP Laban show was of the run-of-the-mill proclamation genre, badly scripted and lackluster. The integrity of the play was put to doubt when, after the proclamation, its presidential candidate Go went live on air, saying he has no interest running for president. Many say it was just a moro-moro, a smokescreen for the true candidate of the administration — Mayor Sarah Duterte-Carpio. The father-daughter tiff is a mere ploy to create confusion to be resolved on the eleventh hour of filing of certificate of candidacy or substitution of candidates.
You think substitution is allowed only until 15 November 2021? Think again. The Commission on Elections in Resolution 10695 issued 10 February 2021 allows late substitution even from 16 November 2021 until noon of election day, provided that the substitute and the one being substituted bear the same surname.
Everything is still up in the air. There will be alliances, realignments and withdrawals of candidacies. Adding tentativeness is the substitution provision of the Electoral Code, which we saw happen in the 2016 elections. The indecision of then candidate Duterte whetted the curiosity of voters leading to his victory.
The corruption expose in the purchase of anti-Covid-19 gear now being investigated by the Senate has dented in no small way the integrity of the administration. This will definitely impact on voters’ choice.
But hold your horses yet, readers. Wait for Isko Moreno Domagoso, Leni Robredo, Manny Pacquiao, Bongbong Marcos and other wannabes’ proclamations in the coming days. Prepare for more entertainment laced with a promise of the “moon.”