Wenceslao: My 2020 (political) vision

Bong O. Wenceslao

WE often see the New Year as the closing of a door and forget it also symbolizes the opening of a new one. Traditional media leads in the observance of this perspective with its year in review features, which focus on the events of the past year, in this case 2019. It would have been good if the review includes analyses or the mining of lessons from past experiences. But no. It is a mere reiteration of what happened in the past year.

I always consider dates as mere markers in the process of coming and going. Life is a process that moves despite time. It starts, in the case of human beings, the moment the sperm cell succeeds in fertilizing the egg cell. Okay, call that Day One if you want but the process is not bothered by labels. The process plays out until death, but the counting of the years is a mere human invention.

In the country’s politics, January 2020 marks the beginning of the second half of the process that is the rule of President Rodrigo Duterte. The middle of a process can also be considered the beginning of the waning years, or the going down years after the peak of the process is reached. It can also be considered the start of the downhill movement. For Duterte, from now until 2022 is doubly challenging because he is not getting any younger.

The Duterte administration is already past its peak, and the question now is only on how it navigates the downhill trek. There are signs that the administration is no longer what it was during its peak period and the weakening will only worsen from here on as wannabes prepare for the inevitable. And it seems like the President is increasingly being marginalized by the independent actions of these wannabes. The President, for example, will already be powerless as his allies begin forging new alliances.

This year is therefore very crucial for the Duterte administration. We all know that it is during the second half of every presidency that allies no longer listen to the boss but to his or her political ambitions. I heard stories last year that the Duterte “supermajority” coalition is starting to break apart. The process of breaking up will only hasten from this year on.

One can actually already list a few of these wannabes and observe their actions this year. I can mention some like House Speaker Allan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. Then there’s Sen. Panfilo Lacson who is increasingly becoming independent, meaning no longer taking the Duterte camp’s lead.

As for the political opposition, it is interesting how Vice President Leni Robredo will maneuver to retake the political upperhand. As she parries the attacks from the Duterte administration and its political operators, her courage and grit will also be tested. And it seems to me like the Duterte camp is underestimating Robredo on this regard as shown by their mistake of attempting to trap her when she was appointed anti-illegal drugs czar.

This year will be an exciting one for the country politically.