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After Duterte: A preview

|!he images were distasteful. They members of one of the President's imer cir-
I showed Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano bow- cles, and the political allies of ex-President,
I ing low before President Duterte, who ex-Speaker Gloria Arroyo. The advantage of
I trad lust anointed him Speaker of the the first two factions lies in their (perceived)
House of Representatives. He is doing the doseness to the President, and thus to what-
"mano," the Filipino ritual of respect, but ever legacy he will manage to accmulate at
something is wrong. He is bowing too low, the qnd ofhis tenn Itrcir disadvantage is that
and the President does not seem tO like iL In they are their own worst enemies.
the way the President angles his body, which It is not often that a group of regional rep-
suggests that he is takirg away his hand and resentatives alied with the President's ddl-
in the way his face is set, the President dren will issu€ a strong statemmt condemn-
seems to be expressing his bwn distaste. ing the intervention of Cabinet secre-
Mr. Duterte likes to obseree the ritual aries-by legal definition and political tradi-
too, for instance when he greets an old, fa- ilEttl$$ilrD tion the alter ego of the President-in the se-
miliar bishop, but then the images of that JOHN NERY lection of the Speaker of the House. The
encourter-as when Archbishop of Davao statement was issued when it became clear
Romulo Valles, the president of tfle Catholic backing to break the deadlock in the race to that Cayetano was the secretaries' preferehce.
Bishops' Conference ofthe Philippines, vis- lead ttte House of Representatives. He may The c6ntinued sniping after Mr. Duterte made
it€d him in the presidential palace in Iuly enioy the President's confidenEeibut in the his decision known only shows that not even
last year-are on a different register from racg he is no Ma.rie Kondo solution: He does the President's authority was enough to doak
Cayetano's awkward bowing. not "sparkjoy." Cayetano with a protective hantle. The othdr
The Pre.sident and his honored guest look In fact, the President's decision to pub- factions know dlat while the President deliv-
like they are connecting; smiles ligbten their lidy endorse Cayetano, in a term-sharing ar- ered the votes for his runing mate-Region
faces; ald many signs of mutual respect rangement with Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, )O was the only one where Cayeano mpped
abound, including the not-insignificant ges- with Rep. Martin Romualdez as maiority the vice presidential race-there has never
tule on the part ofthe guest to raise his hand leader thoughout the entirc tenD does not been a real connection between the street
to about the level of his chest, thus prevent- simplifi/ matters. Rather, it allows the fac- tough from Davao and the hyperarticulate
ing the President ftom bowing too low. tionalism at the center of the Duterte alliance politician-of-many-shapes from Taguig. The
Cayetano's encounter, on the otherhand, to continue to fester. That the President is- awkward photos are only more proof.
does not show any connection at all with the sued bis decision in public is already un- Cayetano was also a lead cheerleader of
President except for the hands; Mr. Duterte precedented All House maiorities find a way the opposition when Arroyo was president;
is tooking away (and looking irritated). There to dign with whoever sits in Malacaiang, he is notwelcome among Arroyo's allies.
are no smiles (not even on Cayetano's face). and presidents have always had a say on who His immediate floating of tetu exten-
And tlle putative Speakels head is awkward- becomes Speaker, but Mr. Duterte saying the sions was a shameless attempt to curry favor
ly around the President's waist-Cayetano quiet part out loud is new. with the politicians who will only be forced
is engaged in a grim act of abasemen! rather What is even more extraordinary is to vote for hirt" Whether it will fly d€pends
than ritual rcspect thaq after lie spoke, the factions continued on many factors-including whether he will
The funages, since shared widely on social to make their yiews known. Talkofapossi- in fact survive more than a few months in the
media, are visual proof that Cayetano-the ble coup in the House circulated; misgi- position he was giver! ratler ttnn eamed-
president's mnning mate in the 2016 elec- vings about Cayetano were shared. But that he had to already deploy such a trial
tionq and on record as one of Ns major cam- I am of the view that tlle struggle for the balloon is itsetf sigr ofweakness.
paign contributors-holds a precarious po- speakership of the House is a preview of life Expect bloolletting among the allies.
sition in the Duterte alliance. They show why after Mr. Dutene. Three factions of varying
he was the weakest candidate for Speaker, sEengths are,vying for political confrot the On Twitter: @jnery-newsstand,
and why he needed the President's outright ttuterte siblings, SeII Bong Go and other email: jnery@inquirer.com.p6'

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