THIS might be too early to forecast, but the conditions vital to 2022 scenarios are unfolding rather quickly as post Duterte trend is almost sealed.
Major contenders for 2022 have already surfaced, leading the presidential aspirants are Davao mayor Sarah Duterte, Senator Cynthia Villar, Senator Ping Lacson, Vice President Leni Robredo and former senator Bongbong Marcos.
To date, leading the vice presidential pack are Senator Manny Pacquiao, Senator Bong Go, Mar Roxas, and some say, a top leader from Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. Also mentioned is Manila mayor Isko Moreno, who is being pushed by his fans to run for presidential or vice presidential race.
Reports have it that if he could have his way, President Duterte will bless Sarah and Bongbong for presidential and vice presidential bid respectively, or should there be hitches, other options would be Sarah and Bong Go, or Bongbong and Bong Go or vice versa. These choices will ensure continuity of Duterte and Marcos interests.
If Duterte and his core allies from Mindanao and Visayas could further stretch their choices without restraints they could make a dozen more combinations some of which could be very out of the box or simply disruptive just to pursue their whims and caprices.
Cynthia Villar, with her unpopularity swinging from bad to worse, will have to use extensively their family's wealth and fortune to increase her chances of winning. But her husband repeated defeats proved money cannot always buy power in a country where people are most wanting for money and saving personality figures.
Pacquiao, Lacson, and all others will have to rely on their money, machinery and popularity to earn a level in playing field.
But not all the balls are on Duterte's hands nor on the opposition.
The US, a long-time dominant power in the Philippines, remains to have a solid control over the country's economics, politics, military apparatus and territory, and 2022 outcomes are certainly in its top agenda. And still, even if China is exerting more efforts to gain substantive foothold in the country.
It remains a US policy to ensure peaceful turnover of power from one of its ruling faction to another in the country, especially that Philippines play an important role in its pivot to Asia strategy to counter China's growing expansion and territorial control maneuvers in the seas of South East Asia and East Asia.
For the Philippines with histories of popular struggles against tyranny and fascism, and where a strong and resilient national liberation movement is resurging, the US will likely go for leaders who are less corrupt, diplomat type, and unifier of both ruling and opposition factions and the military, and manageable enough to support US economic, political and territorial interests.
In this light, Duterte's choices might be too wild for US to handle and therefore risky for keeping the democratic facades and stability of the country.
Bongbong is too risky and could ignite massive unrest. Sarah perceived strongman style like his father might be too much for a country which long suffered political and economic battering. Ping is a good political material but US distrust and disdain for him seems unrepairable.
Cynthia is too elitist that could isolate her from the people that US has been wooing for support. Pacquaio and Yorme are potentials, but their present popularity and political neophytism may not be enough to stir this nation to progress and stability.
This still leaves VP Leni as top presidential contender in as far as US is concerned. Definitely, she is not anti US, and worries much of China's expansionism and threat of military aggression. She can deal with ruling faction and opposition dynamically and graciously. She and Jesse have had good experiment in good governance in their city and province. Her growing popularity among the people here and abroad is apparent and something that cannot just be ignored
I wouldn't be surprised if Leni's appointment to the anti-drug czar post is part of the US 2022 gameplan.
I wouldn't be surprised too if the likes of DILG Sec. Ano could also be the US trojan horse for 2022 given his vital role as practically the right arm of the President and overall stirrer of the entire structures of governance, with full backing from the military and police.
Who knows, it could also be Leni and Ano or vice versa.
Or Allah knows, a broad united front of a spectrum of opposition and the left could put up strong bets capable of challenging all the odds and even frustrate the US game plan.
Again, these are the conditions shaping up for 2022. Of course, this could change.