Wenceslao: Light at tunnel’s end

Bong O. Wenceslao
·3 min read

Stories of relatives of some of my Facebook friends dying had me recalling a past when dying was a regular occurrence. When every time you wake up at dawn in a bushy hill in the countryside, you thank God for keeping you safe and extending your life. Many of the deaths nowadays are swift. But there are also those who survived to tell us tales of survival.

Despite the slow rollout of the vaccines and the obvious government incompetence, we have, sort of, seen the light at the end of the tunnel. The pandemic will soon be over and we will be back to the normal grind of survival. Some people, though, have so become overly optimistic and complacent that they caught the tail end of the spread of the coronavirus.

Here in the Philippines, the start of our return to normal life would also see us going to the voting precincts to exercise our right of suffrage. That would be the time to audit the performance in the government of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte and local leaders. How they handled the pandemic would top the list of categories to be audited.

The same thing happened when Joe Biden and Donald Trump battled for the US presidency. How Trump handled the pandemic got factored in the voters’ decision-making process. Biden won the elections, of course, ending years of the US tilt to the far right. Decency has been restored thus far.

Here, Duterte is barred from running for reelection, but he will surely have a proxy in the polls. His daughter Sara, the current mayor of Davao City, is being convinced to run for President by some sectors advancing the call, “Run Sara run.” But they are encountering the seeming reluctance by the President to let Sara run and by Sara herself to run.

So Duterte will have to make do with wannabes like boxer Manny Pacquiao and Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano. Sen. Panfilo Lacson is posturing like he is his own man while Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno and

Sen. Grace Poe are with the opposition 1Sambayanan. Vice President Leni Robredo may run for governor of her province instead.

These leaders’ response to the pandemic will occupy much of the discussion during the campaign period. How they acted during the Duterte presidency will also be an issue. Duterte’s popularity has waned, and it may be counterproductive to use these leaders’ association with the President as campaign propaganda.

One proof that the Duterte magic no longer works is that his main social media influencers are nowhere to be found. Where is Margaux “Mocha” Uson now? Where is the admin of the Thinking Pinoy blog? I still have to hear of the others who rode on the popularity of Duterte in the last presidential elections.

It will not only be our pandemic-ravaged lives that will return to normal. The pendulum of public opinion will swing back either to the right or the center after swinging to the far right with Duterte. Decency in governance will be restored like it has been restored now in the US.

And I doubt if the Chinese can still influence the outcome of next year’s elections. But discussing that can be the subject of another column.