By Herbert Vego
THE February 2, 2022 retirement of Rowena Guanzon as chair of the First Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seemed to forebode distrust brewing between presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos and his running mate, Sara Duterte Carpio.
She had repeatedly ranted at fellow Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, ponente of the disqualification case against Marcos over non-payment of taxes, for delaying her decision so that her vote to disqualify him would no longer be counted after her retirement.
By now, since the Comelec has been printing ballots bearing his name as one of the presidential candidates, “disqualification” hardly figures.
This corner agrees with Guanzon that the Comelec en banc is inclined to dismiss Marcos’ disqualification case for non-payment of taxes. He and Sara could win or be made to win the May 9, 2022 election. But as to whether it would benefit them vote is another matter.
What it the Supreme Court would eventually disqualify the proclaimed President? That would be legal ground, as Guanzon believes, for Sara (assuming she wins as vice-president) to take over.
While we are not predicting such a scenario to unfold, it is hard to believe that the daughter of the powerful president would play second fiddle.
The simultaneous retirements of Guanzon, Chairman Sheriff Abas and Commissioner Antonio Kho Jr. have left behind four remaining commissioners who are all appointees of President Rodrigo Duterte, who would have to fill up the new vacancies.
It is not hard to imagine the new commissioners joining the old ones in dismissing the disqualification cases heaped against BBM on the ground of “moral turpitude”.
But how could BBM rejoice over the likelihood of hurdling through the administration-beholden Comelec when Sara’s dad and his party, the PDP-Laban (Cusi wing), have yet to decide on whom to support as his successor?
The party had prevailed upon Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa to file his certificate for president, only to back out on the realization that he could not win.
But even minus Bato, how could Bongbong Marcos sleep soundly at night when President Duterte had rejected him as being “just a weak and spoiled child”?
No less than BBM’s wife, Liza Araneta-Marcos, was reported by the website “Politiko” last January 31 as having called Sara “a potential threat” to them.
On the other hand, if Sara were “strong,” why is she playing second fiddle to Marcos unless he could be stepping stone from which to move up?
Why would the “strong” depend on the “weak” unless circumstances tell otherwise?
Let us go back to one year ago – from January 26 to February 1, 2021 — when a new commercial pollster calling itself OCTA Research allegedly conducted a survey that showed Sara “No. 1” with 22 percent votes among possible presidential candidates that included Marcos, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Sen. Grace Poe and Robredo, among others.
The Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia gave her 28 percent. In all their so-called “scientific” surveys with 1,200 to 2,400 faceless respondents, Vice President Leni Robredo could go no higher than 6th.
If the surveys were make-believe, why did other “opposition” candidates try to dissuade her from running? Remember that stupid proposal from another aspirant, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who asked her to give way to him should the latter score higher in succeeding surveys?
VP Leni must have heard of unpublished surveys showing contrary opposite results.
No wonder, after Robredo had filed her certificate of candidacy for president on October 7, 2021, the nation saw a steady tide of her supporters. Everywhere VP Leni goes, the color pink dominates the scenery of men and women welcoming and shouting “Leni! Leni!” while forming the “L” sign with their fingers.
All surveys thereafter – with Sara Duterte filing her candidacy for vice president — had no choice but put Robredo behind frontrunner Marcos. However, with no valid reasons cited as to why voters would support an ousted dictator’s son – not even by way of tracing his track record as former congressman and senator – they make no sense.
The booming preference for Robredo over the rest springs from the widespread perception that only she represents the true opposition who would restore democracy, sanity and honesty in government.
Who has not heard of the seven-hour “glitch” that delayed the transmission of votes from Smartmatic (the vote-counting machines’ provider) to Comelec in 2019? As a result, all eight “Otso Deretso” opposition senatorial candidates lost.
Incidentally, the United States’ Embassy, through Chargé d’affaires Heather Variava, has asked the Comelec to allow American observers during the conduct of the May 9, 2022 elections.