The Long View: Shadow boxing

The Long View
Shadow boxing
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:36:00 07/30/2009

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo saved the genuinely popular for last – Manny Pacquiao, the ultimate human prop in her State of the Nation Address – not only out of a genuine, shared affection and admiration for the Pinoy pug, but because she wanted everyone to identify our country’s prize Lightweight-Featherweight-Superfeatherweight-Superbantamweight-Flyweight-Lightwelterweight-Champion with herself. Thus making her (in her own mind, at least) the No. 1 pound-for-pound chief executive of the country just as “Pacman” is the No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

To take the boxing analogy to its logical conclusion, perhaps we should ask ourselves what boxing champs could have taught the President by way of announcing their retirement from boxing. More often than not, they announce the next one will be their last bout, or they simply say, it’s time to go, goodbye, thank you, I love you, fans.

Such a statement was what people were expecting from the President when she addressed the nation and Congress.

It is remarkable that instead, she basically declared she was going to treat her potential successors as challengers. But none of them is going head-to-head with her, and so the belt she wants to hold on to until the very last second of the very last minute of the very last hour of the very last day of her presidency isn’t hers to defend anymore, is it? Not least because she supposedly stopped being the defending champion once she claimed the title of president in 2004.

Well, fine, she also says people repeatedly tried to mug her, but that her Fists of Determination saved the day, in and out of the ring. But that’s the point, even if you accept her take on events: the title belt could’ve been taken away from her, sure; but never by means of a title fight, because under current rules our presidential slugfest is fought only once every six years, and every title holder gets to keep it for strictly six years—unless the referees take it away for things like, say, fixing the fight in the first place. But then she gave all the referees black eyes.

So even if the President, in her own mind, is a prizefighter, then last Monday’s performance was a case of prancing around the ring, engaging in shadow boxing. She says she intends to keep on swinging until the bell rings marking the end of her fighting career in 2010. Against whom? And for what? Either she’s punch drunk or she isn’t going to retire and is in training to win another title belt in another weight class.

Now before I end up like Ronnie Nathanielsz – publicly criticized by the Pacman for being uninformed – I will leave the boxing analogy and focus on the President and the adoring fans packed into the Bastusang Pambansa last Monday. It was supposed to be the Big Goodbye, the Fond Farewell, the Swan Song; instead, it became a despedida where the guest of honor lingers by the door, refusing to leave, trapping all the guests at the banquet hall – even if half of them already have indigestion. You know everyone – from guests to waiters to janitors – are dying to go home and prepare for the next party, but the big shot won’t leave. Instead, the big shot proposes that everyone go to an after-party or, worse, that the waiters and everyone stay on and keep the buffet tables filled because everyone’s going to continue partying. But then again the guest of honor knows never again will everyone who is anyone be under one roof – so it’s best to make the most of it.

The practical question confronting the ruling coalition is precisely this: It took so long, and required so much effort, to build it up that it seems a pity to watch it disappear, as it must inevitably disappear, once the current boss bows out and another takes her place. The ruling coalition has to start disintegrating come Nov. 30, when presidential candidacies are formally announced, because its members may be fat and happy under the President but they have no intention of being lean and hungry under the next dispensation.

The President, instead of announcing she will take the lead in grooming a successor who can lead her partymates to victory, not only mocked her potential replacements, but basically said everyone in her coalition will have to continue courting her favor because she fully intends to be the boss. This means the next three months, when her coalition should be concerned with figuring out who will be its standard bearer, will be spent leaping out of the trenches in charge after charge in pursuit of Charter change.

No wonder some of the President’s own allies have leaked that the Frankenstein coalition is “leaving the door ajar” for a possible Villar-de Castro, Escudero-de Castro, or Villar or Escudero with Teodoro as veep tandem.

This seems more of speculation in aid of implanting the kiss of death on the current coalition outsiders, rather than a reflection of desperation because the coalition lacks “winnable” presidential and vice-presidential candidates. It simply wants to take everyone down a peg out of spite, with Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo as the spite-mongerer in chief, with his assertions that Villar and Escudero have had back-channel negotiations with his mother to get her support.

Much as they float on a cloud of sycophancy while in power, presidents are ultimately disposable, because there’s only room for one at a time while every president needs a coalition to either to get into power or sustain them once there. The President likes multiple scenarios, but all require the incumbent to foster a political Stockholm Syndrome where her Frankenstein, instead of seeking freedom, falls head over heels with its creator and views her bowing out of office as death for both.

And if that doesn’t work, well, there’s Teodoro as the son of Frankenstein to take care of the Bride of Frankenstein.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

22 thoughts on “The Long View: Shadow boxing

  1. Whatever did she mean by that “for those who want to be president…?”
    Was it plan well and execute flawlessly? Here’s a video that could show how well her planners are and how good and hard working she to achieve her goal.
    …but I’m not an Erap supporter though…

  2. villar-de castro
    or how about villar-escudero?

    could be.

    villar hopped into each others’ sides the past years. he can do it again come 2010.

  3. I think nonsense this expectation that the outgoing President has the responsibility to groom the successor. In countries like Saudi Arabia, yes. Pinas where there are political parties and coalitions of political parties, the standard bearers are determined in the interparty negotiations, posturing and squabbling.

  4. If PGMA will hold on to her office,
    i believe People Power 4 will ensue…
    Forgiving and giving her one more chance once, when she said IM SORRY, is enough, forgiving her twice is foolishness on our part.

  5. Gibo Teodoro as the son of Frakenstein? It doesn’t add up. In the carnival atmosphere of Philippine politics, he’s too drab to be in the limelight. Like his uncle Danding, he’d do better behind the scenes.

    In the meantime, Presidentiables wouldn’t want to be caught dead consorting with the President in public. But I’ll wager that there will be lots of backroom dealing between the President’s people and those who aspire to be in her place. Being in power and having enormous resources has its prerogatives.

  6. I suppose the Constitutional prohibibition is only for reelection or a second term. Since she was never elected to the position, what’s keeping GMA from joining the 2010 Presidential derby?

  7. Back channeling will be an operative word during the next Presidential elections.

    Yep. One for me, one for you, one for me, one for you, two for me…

  8. Is there any presidentiable who doesn’t have any business interest that will be affected by the changing of the guards? Would this be the real motive behind that “nationalistic” fervor? Wheeling and dealing to the max…

  9. “Since she was never elected to the position, what’s keeping GMA from joining the 2010 Presidential derby?”-taxj

    I’m sure GMA can legally run again for president in the 2010 presidential election. All that is needed to legitimize it is an admission from Garci and Esperon.

  10. The country has been faring relatively well inspite of the government’s inefficiencies (at least some sectors are). I believe its just a matter of managing obstacles or challenges – depends on one’s point of view. For me there’s nothing much we can do but survive Philippine peculiarities, we have to, we have no choice…its business as usual or starve…or run away to other countries with our tails between our legs…
    …if its gets too hot, well get our of the kitchen!? and then blog about the Philippines being a shithole…as if that helps…

  11. …those who think the Philippines is a “shithole” have never been to Tagaytay Highlands…

  12. supremo: I don’t care if GMA runs for President in 2010 as long as she resigns first.

    Bert: I’m sure GMA can legally run again for president in the 2010 presidential election. All that is needed to legitimize it is an admission from Garci and Esperon.

    – Thanks for the wise and kind counsel. Makakarating. I assure you that parties concerned will gladly oblige. One conditon though: a solemn pledge that you’ll vote for her.

  13. Local politics is so frustrating and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight, has it finally come to “take it or leave it?

  14. “One conditon though: a solemn pledge that you’ll vote for her.”


    You’ll have no problem with UP n and SoP with that. Still, if you and Manolo will, then I guess I’ll have to go with the crowd.

  15. “…those who think the Philippines is a “shithole” have never been to Tagaytay Highlands…” – ramrod

    or Makati, or Fort Bonifacio, or Rockwell..

    but what really makes this place a “shithole” is more of the stench of knowing how these wealth is inequitably spread among us..

  16. GMA seems to have scored “pogi” points with Washington, D.C. Although the American press was more engrossed with the beer racial diplomacy than with the Obama-GMA meeting. We’re not really that important to Americans.

  17. but what really makes this place a “shithole” is more of the stench of knowing how these wealth is inequitably spread among us..
    Liam, you have this uncanny ability to read my mind at times…

  18. I never liked benigno’s views, but each time I see indiference and downright insensibility, plus the callousness of some superblack tinted expeditions to just sideswipe your sideview mirror and driving off with nothing but a wangwang…some places indeed become shitholes…

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