Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Wenceslao: Not only Roque

FORMER presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s fall from grace is well-chronicled partly because it was swift. A slow burn and therefore able to shield itself from the limelight is the downslide of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco. The former rebel priest has announced his plan to vie for local post in next year’s elections. He is running for Bohol governor.

Evasco is not the only member of the Duterte Cabinet who left their lofty perch to run in the 2019 polls. Former foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano wants to return to the House of Representatives by running in his political turf in Taguig.

Evasco is a former three-term mayor of the town of Maribojoc in his native Bohol, so running for Bohol governor is not a surprising option. Besides, the 2019 political exercise are elections held right smack in the Duterte presidency’s midterm when the influence and resources of the national government are still available for disposal.

Evasco is Duterte’s friend and I reckon he remains to be so despite his fall from grace in Malacañang. As they say, “trabaho lang, walang personalan.” After all, their friendship has gone a long way since it was forged in Davao City where Evasco helped Duterte acquire an iron hold on its politics.

Evasco’s attempt for Duterte to acquire the same success at the national level failed miserably because of the nature of politics there, which remains traditional. The nationwide group he organized, the Kilusang Pagbabago, failed to fly because of the traditional politicians’ suspicions of Evasco’s intention.

Besides, it was easy to shoot down because he relied too much on the organizing skills of former leftist cadres like him. When a faction of the military frowned on such an activity, the Kilusang Pagbabago was doomed. The death blow was the formation by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte of her Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

More than that, Evasco lost in his turf war in the National Food Authority (NFA) to Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go. The first blow was the President’s dismissal from her government post of Evasco’s aide Halmen Valdez, who incidentally is also from Bohol. Then he was stripped of his supervision of the NFA.

As for Roque, who has been replaced by lawyer Salvador Panelo, will he go ahead and file his certificate of candidacy for senator or will he strive to remain in the good graces of the President by instead waiting for the promised reinstitution by Congress of the Office of the Press Secretary so he can be appointed to head it? Only time can give us the answer to that.

These developments mean that we will have an interesting second half in Duterte’s six-year term. With the changes in the Cabinet’s look and the overhaul in Congress after the midterm elections, the Duterte administration could be doing things differently by then.

Let’s just hope that the changes that would happen would finally be for the better, considering the many lessons learned from the first half of the President’s term.


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