A Tale of Two Cities – North vs South

February 2nd, 2024 · No Comments

By Benjie de Ubago

Marcos and Duterte“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 Sunday, 28 January 2024, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (PBBM) launched his “Bagong Pilipinas” rally at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta. Patterned after Marcos Sr’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 the Congress, no less. It was complete with dancing girls that tickled Duterte’s fancy and attended by the PBBM’s sister, Senator Imee Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte who flew 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 die-hard Duterte loyalists.

While PBBMs rally was on a positive note complete with tshirt give-aways, Duterte’s turned out to be a griping session peppered with Duterte’s favourite “P—I#!” expletives. And then, Duterte dropped the bombshell!

In his usual off-the-cuff manner fused with misogynistic comments, Duterte went on to verbally attack Bong Bong Marcos, his wife Liza Araneta Marcos and Speaker Martin Romualdez. He accused PBBM 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 sessation of Mindanao from the Philippines. He further warned that if PBBM would not change, PBBM would meet the same fate as his father’s – the Marcos exile in 1986. But that was not the worst. Duterte then went on and accused PBBM of being an addict – “Bangag”. He alleged that PBBM’s name was on the PDEA list of drug users which was later denied by 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 Bong Bong Marcos.

However, only a week prior to the rally, Duterte called for a press conference, appeared subdued and said “I have full confidence In Bong Bong Marcos.” He further stated that PBBM would not have had anything to do with the ICC. “Walang alam si Bong Bong diyaan.”

The ‘Uniteam’ as it projected itself during the 2022 campaign dissipatated 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 full boil last Sunday. The bloggers were ablaze in cyberspace and the trolls were as confused as everyone was 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 the VP Sara on the tarmac. Duterte was 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 were collecting signatures in exchange for cash or “ayuda.” Asked about possible reconciliation between Duterte & Marcos camps, she replied: “Wala na, may latak 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,” she said.
Everyone had something to say – everyone turned political analyst – everyone spoke – everyone contradicted themselves. but clearly each one had their own agenda and it wasn’t the Filipino people. Where PBBM’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.

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