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Birds of the same feathers

BY GREG CASTILLA – Dateline Seattle: Birds of the Same Feather Flock Together – Bicol Mail – December 9, 2021

The attempt by Bongbong, the son of the dictator Marcos, to retake Malacanang may not be through the use of the military like what his dictator father had done.

Rather, he will rely on the support of powerful politicians with questionable character acting as powerbrokers. I am referring to Gloria Arroyo, Joseph Estrada, Inday Sara Duterte who have all joined forces with the Marcoses to support the candidacy of Bongbong.But who are these powerbrokers?

Gloria Arroyo was once involved in the $200 million kickback in the $328-million NBN-ZTE scam.Joseph Estrada was convicted of P130 million tobacco tax plunder and P4 billion “jueteng” bribery.Inday Sara Duterte once made headlines for punching a court sheriff in public.

She is the daughter of Rodrigo Duterte who never denied that the Marcoses supported his presidential candidacy in 2016. He was also the one who allowed the dictator Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

These same dynastic families, who have been in politics for decades, want to remain in power by supporting a dictator’s son who they think has the best chance of winning.Bongbong himself was convicted for tax evasion when he was the vice-governor of Ilocos Norte.

His mother was convicted in 2018 of seven counts of graft and corruption.True, politics is by addition, but Bongbong appears to be fine-tuning a strategy that welcomes a swath of money-hungry politicians – indicted or convicted of various crimes – as long as they can help him win.What kind of person would stoop to this level? It’s like marriage for convenience.

As Vice President Leni Robredo said in reacting to a presidential candidate’s support for President Duterte’s senatorial bid, “Our choices are a reflection of the values we hold dear.” But Bongbong does not really care. All he cares for is his personal ambition.

It is apparent that he will do anything to win. In a country like the Philippines where “utang na loob” (debt of gratitude) is very much part of the culture, Bongbong faces the prospect, if he wins, of giving favors not by merit but through political patronage.

This may very well be his waterloo.The prospect of Bongbong becoming a president is not remote. He has all the means to make it happen: the ill-gotten wealth he inherited from his father, his paid army of trolls, his lies about the martial law years as the “Golden Years,” name familiarity, and his fluency in the revisionist narrative that spreads lies about the martial law years.

If Bongbong wins, can he safeguard our constitutional order? Can we expect him to protect and promote human rights when he grew up in a family surrounded by a bevy of human rights violators? I don’t think so.Can we expect Bongbong to be truthful to the Filipinos when he cannot even be truthful about his education?

Can someone who lies consistently all of a sudden tell the truth? I don’t think so?Can we expect Bongbong to serve the Filipinos when foremost in his mind is to rehabilitate his family, most especially his dictator father?

I don’t think so.By openly embracing the support of the Arroyos, the Estradas, and the Dutertes, Bongbong is shaping a new narrative that graft and corruption can be swept under the rug and be part of the democratic process as long as it can help one’s victory at the polls.

That makes Bongbong hard to trust.