THE federalism push and attempts to change the Constitution to suit the ambitions of politicians in the camp of President Rodrigo Duterte are no longer going anywhere. The train has stopped chugging, sort of, obviously because the President is no longer as interested in the cause as before. This while moves announced earlier by House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to change the Constitution so politicians, among other beneficiaries, can hold on to their posts forever seem to have no takers, especially in the Senate.
The President is old and looks tired so any effort by his supporters to ask him to find ways to extend his term should no longer be enticing to him. Besides, presidential daughter Sara seems to be not genuinely interested in the presidency. This is a big blow to those who are harboring the thought that the Duterte camp could be made to rule this country forever. A political transition will most certainly happen in 2022.
It is not surprising therefore that the names of some presidential wannabes have cropped up. Manny Pacquiao? Cayetano? One name, though, seems to be the earliest of birds. I am referring to Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who is everywhere nowadays, or at least on television. Lacson is ahead of Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno, whose handlers are apparently harboring lofty ambitions for him.
Lacson, this early, is positioning himself more as an alternative bet than as a pro-administration one even if he is aligned with the pro-Duterte majority in the Senate. That’s a wise move considering that the opposition will most likely be led by Vice President Leni Robredo and the administration will surely have another candidate to support. Also, the middle ground would look promising in 2022, I reckon.
We already know how the liberals got clobbered in the 2016 and 2019 elections. Considering President Duterte is still getting high ratings in the surveys, I think recovering the dominance of liberal democratic thought in the country will take time. The Duterte brand may no longer have much of the fanatical support it garnered in 2016 but the extreme right thinking persists. The pendulum of public opinion has still to shift fully back to the center where it was in 2010.
Lacson failed in previous attempts to snag a higher position, so his effort nowadays must already be guided by the lessons of past failures. He has moved to the edge, but has not jumped off. He is critical of some of the actions of the President and the administration but made sure his views are still in the realm of the acceptable, even for the DDS (diehard Duterte supporters).
Of course, it is still too early for politicians and political groups to draw the political lines. That will be reserved probably in 2020 or 2021. So Lacson’s purpose is apparently to put him in the consciousness of nationwide voters early. In this sense, he is ahead of the other wannabes like Grace Poe, Pacquiao, etc. who are still biding their time. But will he be able to sustain his balancing act without prematurely being pushed off the edge?