38 years ago

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

The re-emergence of certain political personalities who joined the activities in the just concluded 38th anniversary of the February 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution gave us a glimpse of the country’s May 2025 mid-term elections. These political leaders are identified with the so-called “pinklawan” bloc, a term to connote the combination of the pink and yellow colors that combined forces in the last May 2022 presidential elections. Their decimated ranks are visibly coming back to the mainstream public while regrouping their forces ahead of the electoral exercises next year.

Acting as the (Liberal Party) spokesperson, former Senator Leila de Lima announced last week her fellow erstwhile Senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan and Bam Aquino, and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno will be the “opposition candidates” in the coming May 2025 Senate elections. As of this writing, De Lima disclosed, they are still trying to convince erstwhile Vice President Leni Robredo to lead the Senate ticket of the LP.

That is, if the LP leadership can unify the rest of the political opposition parties to complete their 12-man Senate slate.

Anyway, three of the four senatorial bets of LP’s yellow comprised half of the “Ocho Direcho” ticket in 2022. LP put up Pangilinan as the VP bet with Mrs. Robredo as the presidential standard-bearer when they joined forces with the pink ranks. Sadly though, all of them were wiped out in the 2022 elections.

And the rest, as we say, is history. The “UniTeam” of now President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (PBBM) and former Davao City Mayor and VP Sara Duterte routed them all.

However, Sen. Imee Marcos may likely be caught in between the administration’s UniTeam juggernaut and their estranged allies from the Duterte camp. Sen. Imee, who belongs to Nacionalista Party (NP), has stood steadfastly with the UniTeam that carried to victory her brother’s presidential bid during the 2022 elections. She credited to the UniTeam their family’s victorious return to Malacañang Palace. The UniTeam combined the Marcos bailiwicks in the Ilocos Region – called the “Solid North” – and the “Solid South” of the Duterte’s in the Mindanao Regions.

In fact, Sen. Imee publicly tangled with their first cousin, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, after the latter went hammer and tongs in slashing out the confidential and intelligence funds (CIF) of Mr. Duterte’s daughter. Sen. Imee has taken to task the Speaker in leading his House minions to realign these CIF to line items in the budgets of both the Office of VP (OVP) and her other office as concurrent Secretary of the Department of Education in the 2024 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

In our Kapihan sa Manila Bay last Feb. 14, Sen. Imee conceded to her being looked upon now as an “opposition” leader. Being vocal in public in a number of national issues, Sen. Imee has embraced her espousal of contrarian views even those that put to bad light the administration of her younger brother PBBM.

The self-proclaimed “super Ate” of the President has lately engaged in a much bitter exchange of barbs on the raging Charter-change (Cha-cha) debate in the 19th Congress. In particular, Sen. Imee accused the Speaker as behind the nationwide signature campaign on the people’s initiative (PI) to call for Cha-cha. She and VP Sara are standing up again together against the PI mode of Cha-cha.

Lately, ex-Pres. Duterte is purportedly being egged on by his loyal PDP-Laban partymates to spar again in the political ring and run in the upcoming Senate race. Turning 79 years old next month, Mr. Duterte is supposedly enjoying his retirement from politics at their Davao City residence.

Evidently, however, retirement from politics is far from the mind of this consummate politician. Accused with alleged “crimes against humanity,” the erstwhile former President is facing possible prosecution before the International Criminal Court (ICC). With the so-called sword of Damocles hanging over his head, getting elected again into office can at least delay this looming possibility.

But for now, Mr. Duterte still remains beyond the reach of the ICC. That is, for as long as his successor in office at Malacañang upholds his previous decision that got out the Philippines as ICC member. As far as the Philippine government is concerned, PBBM reiterated the ICC has no jurisdiction over the functioning courts and justice system in our country.

Meantime, Mr. Duterte keeps his braggadoccio up to these days in swearing he is not afraid to go to jail, or even to die for having waged the bloody war against illegal drugs during his presidency.

One of the most high profile personality caught in Mr. Duterte’s anti-drug war, De Lima was released on bail in November last year. The court granted her temporary release on the grounds of insufficiency of evidence. She got detained on Feb. 24, 2017 at the Philippine National Police Custodian Center in Camp Crame, Quezon City while undergoing court trial and serving her first term of six years at the Senate.

Lionized by human rights advocates here and in abroad, De Lima failed though to capture sympathy votes of the Filipinos. Running for re-election but not able to campaign physically, she miserably placed No. 23 in the race for the top 12 slots in the 2022 Senate polls.

Now 64 years old, De Lima will likely face off with ex-Pres. Duterte if the latter will indeed run in next year’s Senate race. Should this materialize, Mr. Duterte will lead the PDP-Laban ticket with re-electionist Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Francis Tolentino and Christopher “Bong” Go under the banner of the fractious PDP-Laban.

But who knows? Mr. Duterte has done in the past last-minute political drama. Dismayed by his daughter’s defiance to slide as VP bet of Marcos, ex-President Duterte filed his certificate of candidacy to run for the Senate but withdrew it even before the 2022 elections campaign period could start.

In the meantime, De Lima has been going around on social media to enlist new members for the LP. “Reclaiming our Power,” De Lima exhorts Filipinos to ride on the Edsa spirit and continue to fight for truth and justice started 38 years ago.

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