“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity…” Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
Last 28 January 2024, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (BBM) launched his “Bagong Pilipinas” rally at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta. Patterned after his Dad’s “Bagong Lipunan”, there was really nothing new except the logo and the expense of the rally. Attendance was mandated by a memo for all department heads to attend and send along their staff. Not all senators were even present.
Happening simultaneously down south, former President Rodrigo Duterte staged his “Prayer Meeting” at the Rizal Park in Davao. It was supposed to be a rally protesting the “People’s Initiative” (PI) – the proposed charter change initiated by Congress, no less. It was complete with dancing girls and attended by the BBM’s sister, Senator Imee Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte from one event to the other. It was also attended by a cast of characters who re-surfaced, i.e. former Executive Assistant Vic Rodriguez and other loyalists to Duterte.
While BBM’s rally was on a positive note, complete with t-shirt giveaways, Duterte’s turned out to be a gripping session. And then, Duterte dropped the bombshell!
In his usual off-the-cuff manner, Duterte went on to verbally attack Bongbong Marcos, his wife Liza Araneta Marcos and Speaker Martin Romualdez. He accused BBM of being a weak leader and threw every threat he could possibly think of – from a possible coup, the use of the military, and the cessation of Mindanao from the Philippines. He further warned that if BBM would not change, BBM would meet the same fate as his father – the Marcos exile in 1986. But that was not the worst. Duterte then went on and accused BBM of being an addict – “Bangag”. He alleged that BBM’s name was on the PDEA list of drug users, which was later denied by the PDEA. This was followed by Duterte’s son, Sebastian “Baste” Duterte, the current Mayor of Davao, who, in his speech, called for the resignation of Bongbong Marcos.
However, only a week prior to the rally, Duterte called for a press conference, appeared mellow and said, “I have full confidence In Bongbong Marcos.” He further stated that BBM would not have had anything to do with the ICC. “Walang alam si Bong Bong diyan.”
The ‘Uniteam’ as it projected itself during the 2022 campaign dissipated in a few minutes. Poof! Gone! However, the cracks in the ‘Uniteam’ had already been showing from as early as last year. It simply came to a full boil last Sunday. The bloggers were ablaze in cyberspace, and the trolls were as confused as everyone was about which side to take.
In an ambush interview at the airport on his way to Vietnam, President BBM nonchalantly commented on the incident – “Siguro, it’s the Fentanyl in Duterte’s system. His doctors should take care of him.” But when asked if he was on drugs, he snapped, “I will not even dignify that with an answer.” Also caught on camera was the First Lady’s snub of VP Sara on the tarmac. Duterte was also quick on the rebound with another press conference as he explained his use of fentanyl but reiterated that BBM was a drug addict, and he continued with his threats. He doubled up on the split of Mindanao from the rest of the Philippines, as, according to him, Mindanao is being left behind in terms of progress. But wasn’t Duterte the president for six years? And how many years has he and his family ruled Davao?
Senator Imee Marcos fronted the media with a calm demeanour as she explained her opposition to the People’s Initiative for Charter Change, which was collecting signatures in exchange for cash or “ayuda.” Asked about a possible reconciliation between Duterte and Marcos camps, she replied: “Wala na, may lamat na.” However, she made one thing very clear – her penultimate purpose is to restore and rehabilitate the Marcos’ name at whatever cost. “Ang laki ng hirap namin. 36 years kung saan saan ako napunta. I will not allow my father’s name, Marcos, to be tarnished.”
Everyone had something to say – everyone turned political analyst – everyone spoke – everyone contradicted themselves. Clearly, each one had their own agenda, and it wasn’t the Filipino people. Where BBM’s administration takes the Philippines is a wait and see. One thing is for certain: the clashes of the Titans will not stop anytime soon. A scapegoat is needed to be found.
“It was the season of light, it was season of darkness;
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens.
(Visit Filipin-Oz.com to read articles of Benjie de Ubago)