THE show of force that was the mass oath-taking last Friday of some 50,000 Cebuano politicians who defected to the PDP-Laban should be credited to Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Mike Dino. While he stayed mostly in the background, it was Dino who directed the whole show and provided the wherewithal that made it possible for even those who were from faraway towns to come to the city and be sworn into the president’s party.
What made the size of the crowd more notable was that a few weeks earlier, another group of Duterte supporters gathered also at the Plaza Independencia and drew a much smaller attendance. In fairness, it must be said that those who attended the earlier pro-Duterte event were volunteers - not politicians – who came on their own and without being recruited.
But not all those who came last Friday needed any recruitment either. Many had wanted to be identified as a Duterte supporter since the day he won and needed no more than a slight nudge to make them travel to the historic plaza carrying, of course, their own personal intentions.
And so it has com e to pass that the PDP-Laban that won only a few towns in 2016 is now the dominant political party in Cebu, effectively marginalizing the once powerful Liberal Party. But will the union between the old and the new members work, given that the only tie that binds them together is their eagerness to be in the president’s party and, hopefully, in his good graces?
A friend whose family supported Duterte in 2016, wrote on Facebook last week about a conversation that he supposedly had with one of the newbies. “Sir, nia lagi ka,” the new convert told him. “Nia man gani ka,” my friend, according to him, replied.
It is possible that he was joking and that the supposed exchange did not really take place but what he wrote indicates the tension accompanying the exodus of politicians of different persuasions to the PDP-Laban and which could reach breaking point as 2019 approaches.
But the local elections are still far away, the politicians will say. It’s a lie, of course, because an election is never too far away. Tuburan Mayor Aljun Diamante tried taking that escape route when dyCM’s Jess Villarba asked him last Tuesday how his move to the PDP-Laban would impact politics in his town. The attempt was not successful with Aljun reluctantly admitting that he will probably field his brother for the mayoralty with him as vice mayor.
Probably. That’s the key word. Probably, old and bitter rivals can find a way to resolve their differences between now and 2019. Probably, the marriage of convenience can and will last, at least until the next presidency.
Let’s wait and see.