DESPITE allegations of digital cheating, the Commission on Elections plodded on in the senatorial count and announced Wednesday the winning candidates. A digital report listed nine bets who are in the top 12 in the count to be allies of the Duterte administration: Cynthia Villar, Christopher “Bong” Go, Pia Cayetano, Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, Sonny Angara, Imee Marcos, Francis Tolentino, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.
Rounding up the top 12 are Grace Poe, Lito Lapid and Nancy Binay. None of the Otso Diretso candidates landed in the winning circle. Even Bam Aquino and Mar Roxas lost. This has sparked worries because, like in the House of Representatives, President Rodrigo Duterte now has almost total control of the Senate and can already ram down the people’s throats his agenda.
I would say, though, that this isn’t a total shutout for the opposition in the May 13 polls. In the past midterm election when Noynoy Aquino was president, all 12 administration candidates made it. That was more of a sweep than this one.
Looking at the 12 in the winning circle, I can only see a few who can be fanatical in their support of the Duterte agenda in the last three years of his term because they totally owe their making it to the Senate to the President himself. One is Go, another is de la Rosa. Tolentino, who was edged out by Leila de Lima for the 12th spot in the 2013 senatorial polls, extensively used Duterte’s voiced support for him in his TV spots. He can be tagged true loyalist. Then there’s Revilla, who can be coerced to support the administration because of his pending plunder case.
Consider that Duterte would be what political analysts describe as a lame duck President in the last last three years of his term. Senators, especially those who are up for reelection in 2022 would already be positioning for better political chances by then.
Even in the first three years of the Duterte administration, it could not ram through its agenda in the Senate even if administration-aligned senators are in the majority. Expect the display of “independence” to be more glaring in the President’s lame duck years. I think this is truer for those angling for higher positions in 2022 like Poe and, possibly, Marcos.
A push that was stymied earlier was the one on federalism. It didn’t help that the House majority wanted to do it without much input from the senators. By the time Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo became Speaker, the stance of the Senate had hardened. Arroyo maneuvered to see a proposed “trapo” constitution through but failed miserably.
While Duterte’s minions are trying to make the federalism “dream” alive, partly because they want his rule extended, presidential daughter Sara Duterte already voiced what a faction of the diehard Duterte supporters think. Sara is lukewarm to it, meaning that the federalists may not get her all-out support.
What I am saying is that we are into an interesting phase in the second half of the President’s term.