A Duterte-Cayetano tandem?
It’s the season when taxi drivers do not hesitate to tell their passengers who they want for president in 2016; when ambulant vendors openly express to their customers their candidate for president; when waiters readily reveal to restaurant patrons their choice for the highest office in the land. Many of them want Duterte—Rodrigo Duterte, the popular, no-nonsense Davao City Mayor known for his strict enforcement of laws and ordinances, as well as his own brand of instant justice often dispensed out in the open for everyone to witness.
For these taxi drivers, ambulant vendors, and waiters, the strongman government Mayor Duterte is famous for may be the long-awaited solution to the corruption, incompetence, and pretentiousness of the administration of President Benigno Aquino III and his political minions in the controversy-ridden Liberal Party.
These common folk are not by themselves in their sentiments. Many office workers and college students sincerely believe that the benevolent authoritarianism symbolized and represented by Duterte may be the only remedy against wayward government.
They are all voters, and as far as these voters are concerned, if law and order obtains in Duterte’s Davao City stronghold, then it may likewise obtain throughout the country when the mayor takes up residence in Malacañang. Considering that ironhand rule is often equated with instant justice, their preference for Duterte may be considered extremist, but then extreme problems often demand extreme solutions. It is also an indication of how desperate the people are for honest and efficient government.
Political observers believe that Mayor Duterte will run for president in the coming elections because popular sentiment seems to be going his way.
In the event of a Duterte presidential run, a touted vice presidential running mate of the mayor is Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, who has already announced his bid for the second highest office in the country under the banner of the Nacionalista Party. Primarily because of his youth, Cayetano is one of the more industrious personalities in the Senate, a reputation that many of his colleagues can only hope to aspire for. During his tenure as a senator, Cayetano was very visible in many inquiries in aid of legislation. While the primary task of a senator is, admittedly, legislation and not investigation, Cayetano’s supporters maintain that the electorate can at least find comforting solace in the knowledge that the senator’s investigations have elicited and unearthed vital information regarding anomalies in high places in government—information not otherwise available to the public under ordinary circumstances.
Mayor Duterte is publicly perceived as a scourge of political evildoers, and a city leader who, to put it mildly, solves problems in an unorthodox way. The mayor’s long experience in executive leadership at the grassroots level gives him enough political ammunition against those who grudgingly acknowledge his success at the local government stratum, but belittle his competence at the national level.
According to the Cayetano camp, this is where the senator comes in. Since Cayetano appears to have a penchant for exposing graft and corruption, this penchant may be his binding tie to a Duterte presidential run— like Duterte, Cayetano is waging a war against scoundrels in government, but unlike Duterte, Cayetano fights his war in an orthodox way, that is, through exposés in senate investigations.
There is no doubt that Duterte’s many years in government service equip him with an almost natural capability of understanding and assessing the endless problems that confront government officials who are tasked with executive responsibilities—like that of a city mayor in the small scale, and that of the president in the large scale.
Cayetano’s supporters believe that Duterte’s executive savvy may be complemented by Cayetano’s long experience both as a legislator and as a high-end sleuth in numerous, well-publicized investigations in the Senate.
Campaign leaders from both the Duterte and Cayetano camps are quick to notice an advantage in a Duterte-Cayetano tie-up. Duterte is from Mindanao, while Cayetano is from Luzon. If the old geographic political formula of fielding candidates from different island groups in the archipelago still works in these times of social media and on-line communication, their tandem is expected to bring in the votes.
Age is also an important consideration in a presidential and vice presidential team. Solving the nation’s numerous problems effectively requires a thorough understanding of how older Filipinos think, and how the younger ones feel. While an individual cannot be both young and old at the same time, a tandem can. Supporters of Cayetano assert that among the voters, the young ones can identify with the senator, while the once young have Duterte on their side.
By the way, why are there candidates running for vice president but who do not have a presidential running mate? These candidates should read up on their history lessons.
In the 1986 special elections, the political opposition party fielded Corazon Aquino and Salvador “Doy” Laurel for president and vice president, respectively. Senator Eva Estrada Kalaw, an erstwhile ally of Laurel, also ran for vice president and adopted Aquino as her presidential candidate. Since Aquino avoided Kalaw’s rallies, Kalaw campaigned by her lonesome (except in San Juan where then Mayor Joseph Estrada supported her). As expected, Kalaw was defeated.
Perhaps, these candidates running for vice president without a presidential bet have good reason to believe that Senator Grace Poe will win as president, get proclaimed as such, and get unseated on the ground that she is not a natural-born citizen of the country. If that happens, the vice presidency becomes an express lane to the presidency.