And how could I forget dear old Ping? He is one of Ferdie Marcos’ own creations, a dark and ruthless police chief who attempted to demolish Gloria by exposing the First Husband’s marital-financial immoderacies, while Gloria’s administration attempted to demolish him by dredging up dubious connections to drug trading, and his bloody record of human rights abuses. For Ping’s sly, crafty efforts to undermine Gloria’s authority, his own party rewards him with betrayal, trading him for the more popular FPJ as party standard-bearer. I almost feel sorry for Ping in his underdog position, abandoned and discarded, without a running mate or a power base. Almost.
Indeed, I was ready to hold the opposition in grudging admiration; surely, I thought, this is a concerted front. After months of apparent infighting to rivet public attention on their party, Angara will suddenly negotiate a “compromise” between Ping and FPJ, one dropping to the running mate of the other, thus warming the Philippine electorate’s collective heart with a gracious display of political selflessness, and greatly boosting chances for a straight party ticket.
Alas, Filipino politics has never been that suave. The squabbling appears to be genuine, the “united” opposition failing to rise above its own dark origins as a hot tub for self-motivated anti-Gloria/anti-Ramos conspirators and has-been Marcos loyalists.
Gringo? Puppet. Has-been. Johnny? Puppetmaster pulling the money strings, but still, has-been. Raul? Poor Raul! The tempest has knocked him about, so that his voice is almost completely lost in the sound and fury. He could be so much more, but right now he seems to be just the lesser evil.
The outcome: FPJ will probably win in 2004. Then, chaos. As usual.