WHAT is offensive about an incumbent president running for the vice presidency is less in its constitutionality or lack of it, which is an issue that eventually may go to the Supreme Court for final adjudication. It is the reason behind it. Anyone running for a position would at least have the decency to cast their motives on lofty grounds, like pretending to at least serve public interest.
But not this incumbent president.
Rodrigo Duterte just admitted it when he said: "They keep on threatening me with lawsuits and everything. Panay ang takot sa akin na mademanda ako. Sabi ng batas na kung presidente ka, bise presidente ka, may immunity ka, e di tatakbo na lang ako na bise presidente. (They constantly threaten to sue me. The law states that if you are president or vice president, you have immunity. If that is the case, then I will just run for vice president.)"
Thus, in his own words, he has elevated his personal interest as the main reason. It is now established. This president, perhaps knowing that we have a track record of jailing former presidents, actually is scared of being sued and jailed. This is contrary to his past bravado when he dismissed the thought of incarceration as something that he is not afraid of, as he constantly dared people and declared that he is willing to go to jail every time he issues a kill order.
A cry for decency may just fall on the deaf ears of his loyal political base, whose position was aptly summarized and personified by Sen. Maria Imelda Josefa "Imee" Marcos when she exhorted Duterte to run to precisely escape accountability. After all, the diehard Duterte supporters (DDS) have already jettisoned and lampooned decency as an "f" word in their political vocabulary. They equated it with moral hypocrisy. No wonder Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio very easily dismissed honesty as a virtue in politics when she boldly declared that all politicians lie and thus, it is but a normal attribute for anyone seeking office.
Fortunately, it seems that President Duterte may not necessarily easily get what he wishes for. Aside from the fact that his main trouble is with the International Criminal Court (ICC), where sitting heads of states and governments do not enjoy the benefits of immunity, the position he covets may not even be immune from suit. And he may not even have the much-touted political firewall that comes with what used to be projected by his loyal DDS as his formidable political base. As an incumbent president, he actually is supposed to enjoy the full benefits of incumbency. And for him to only have a voter base of 34.2 percent, based on DigiVoice's PINASurvey for the second quarter, and to be the vice-presidential choice of only 18 percent, based on Pulse Asia's most recent survey, is a fundamental and resounding slap on the face.
And he may not even have the assured protection from his daughter if she runs for president, as her prevailing numbers indicate she is far from being a done deal despite being a frontrunner. Her 28-percent preference rating for a presidential run stands in the context of an upper limit of a voter base of people willing to vote for her in any position that is only 37.6 percent. And this pales in comparison to the 53.8 percent voter base of Manila City Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso. In fact, Pasig City Mayor Victor "Vico" Sotto, while unqualified to run for president, has a broader voter base at 41.5 percent.
And then there is Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, whose political narrative is as compelling as Isko Moreno's. Both have rags-to-riches or fame stories. Pacquiao may not have a stellar record as senator and for some time, he was a willing accomplice, or acolyte, of the Duterte administration, serving it well during crucial votes in the Senate, but recent events have catapulted him to become a contrapuntal to the Duterte brand, now clearly manifested in him being machinated out of his own political party.
Pacquiao is not actually doing that bad in surveys, both in terms of voter preference for either president or vice president, at least not as bad as Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo. While Pacquiao's 8 percent and Robredo's 6 percent are practically tied in the Pulse Asia survey, his voter base as measured by PINASurvey is at 29 percent compared to Robredo's 11.4 percent.
The political opposition should really now come to terms with the bitter reality that Robredo appears to be an unwinnable proposition, and no amount of spin can make her transcend her negatives. While one can dream of a united opposition, where they can somehow transcend their purist exclusiveness and make Moreno, Pacquiao and even Sen. Mary Grace Poe strike an alliance with Robredo, it is foolish to assume that the former's voters would readily transfer their allegiance to a weaker candidate. The reality is that Moreno, Pacquiao and Poe have repeatedly outranked Robredo in practically all surveys, both in terms of preferences and in voter bases.
On his own, Moreno's voter base of 53.8 percent far outranks any other candidate. And it is actually the voter base that defines the political fortunes of a candidate, for it clearly delimits the maximum pool of potential voters that he can tap into. Voter preferences in matchups may not necessarily give a clear and accurate picture of the potential reach from where anyone can draw their political support.
An analysis of the voter bases reveals that the potential voters of Moreno and Pacquiao tend to be in the middle, both ideologically, and in terms of their closer affinities with the voter bases of other candidates. Thus, one can safely say that a Moreno-Pacquiao, or a Pacquiao-Moreno, alliance can become a political headache for both the Duterte political dynasty and its allies, which include the Marcoses, and for the political opposition.