Imee, analyst tell Duterte critics: He remains influential

Imee, analyst tell Duterte critics: He remains influential
Imee, analyst tell Duterte critics: He remains influential

MANILA — Critics of former President Rodrigo Duterte should not count out the charismatic politician, a political ally and an analyst said in interviews on Sunday, saying he remains powerful and influential.

Asked if it was accurate for parties to downplay the tough-talking former Philippine leader’s influence now that he is out of office, Sen. Imee Marcos said it was a “mistake.” 

Marcos, the president’s sister, was among the first to support Duterte while she was Ilocos Norte Governor and the future president was still Davao City mayor.

“Huwag na huwag na iisipin yan, at alam naman natin matapos ang administrasyon ay biglang nagpapalitan ang kaalyado. Siyempre naisasantabi kahit na yung utang na loob. Yung mga nakinabang, biglang hindi na maalala,” Marcos said in an interview on Teleradyo Serbisyo. 

(Don’t ever think that. We know that alliances change when administrations change. Sometimes, political debts are forgotten by those who used to benefit from him.)

The senator this week professed her loyalty to former President Duterte amid speculation of a supposed fallout between members of the administration’s “UniTeam.”

She alleged but did not offer evidence of a demolition job against the president and his daughter Vice President Sara Duterte.

A shake-up at the House earlier this week has given rise to speculations about realignments for the 2025 and 2028 national elections.

“Palagay ko sobrang aga dahil kailangan sirain muna ang kinikilala o akala nilang kalaban,” she said. 

(I think it is too early to count him out because there is a need to discredit those they consider or think are their rivals.)

DUTERTE MAGIC 

Political analyst Robin Garcia, for his part, said “Duterte magic is still here.” 

Former President Duterte’s name has been floated as a potential senatorial candidate.

“Ang isang malaking reason kung bakit naitalaga si President Marcos is because people ascribe him, inihahalintulad ng mga tao si President Bongbong Marcos kay President Duterte,” 

“Even if si President Duterte ngayon wala sya sa poder, wala siya sa posisyon. Yung sinasabi nya at gagawin nya are very consequential, malaki yung epekto sa pulitika ng Pilipinas,” he said.

(Even if he is no longer in power and has no position, his statements and actions are very consequential. They have a big effect on Philippine politics.)

“We need to watch out for their political moves,” he said, noting Duterte’s performance in pre-election surveys.

“What it means is that the Duterte brand, any member of the Duterte family can in fact be an opposition to President Marcos (Jr)… kaya talagang ang tawag ko dyan ay baka ito ang third force,” he said. 

De La Salle University political science professor told ABS-CBN News earlier this week that Duterte teasing an opposition role could put the Liberal Party and and left-leaning opposition groups “in an extremely awkward position.” 

Garcia said Sunday that the opposition might end up being comprised on someone “within the Duterte family.”

But Marcos dismissed Garcia’s idea, noting that their families remained allies. 

“Siguro may ibang pangkat na ayaw sa Duterte pero para sa amin ay talaga hindi totoo yan. Kaalayado kami hindi lang sa pagkakaibigan, kundi sa pagkakaisa ng unawaan,” said the senator. 

(There may be some factions who don’t like Duterte, but, for us, that is not true. We are allies not just in friendship but also in unity and understanding.)

If Duterte does emerge as an opposition figure — as he did in the 2016 polls — DLSU professor Borja said “elite politics will just be weirder at this point.”

He added: “When the dust settles, new alliances may appear unusual…the old framework of administration vs. opposition will either die, or re-appear with severe factional conflicts.”

HOW IS THE UNITEAM? 

Meanwhile, an analyst on Friday said the “Uniteam” tandem of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Vice President Duterte might be in a shaky position, an analyst said Friday. 

The two were running-mates in the May 2022 elections and both won with large margins. 

“It appears that the ruling UniTeam alliance won’t be able to keep a united front until the next election cycle in a sense that the factions within factions within this grand… alliance really seemed to be crystallizing,” political analyst Cleve Arguelles said on ANC. 

The UniTeam alliance is a coalition of the country’s major political parties and most influential clans.

“The fissures are becoming more public and apparent. This may mean in the coming midterm elections, there will be more administration factions: One more aligned in the House leadership with the Speaker, and the other more aligned with the Vice President and her allies,” Arguelles added. 

The analyst made the assessment after the removal of Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab as deputy speakers.

House leaders cited their alleged failure to sign a resolution defending the House from statements made by former President Duterte.

Arroyo and Ungab are staunch allies of Duterte but both have also said they remain supportive of the House leadership. The analyst noted that Sen. Marcos is not 100% “aligned” with Malacañang despite her family’s political interests.

“She is leading a different kind of… administration faction,” he said. 

“The senator is in a different grouping. How does this affect the relationship with the Marcos family? I think this is the sad reality of Philippine politics,” he said. 

It is unlikely, however, that the senator would go against her brother and the rest of the family.

“Just for now they have the luxury to be focused on this infighting because there was no really credible threat from the opposition. So it is just tempting to focus on their own individual ambitions,” he said. 

“But once a more credible, strong threat from their opposition develops then it would be easy for them to fight in virtue again — in unity.”

Source: ABS-CBN