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Brightest political stars

Brightest political stars

If it is impossible to separate politics from our hosting of the SEA Games, it is because we can’t. For one thing, how did Speaker Cayetano get to head the hosting committee?

Mr. Cayetano grabbed the position when he was secretary of foreign affairs. That’s why some of the budget was lodged with the DFA. He needed it for 2022. That’s real long-term planning. But that’s getting ahead of the story.

A week ago, President Duterte blurted out that he, Bong Go and Cayetano are the country’s brightest political stars. Few of us took notice. But that didn’t happen by accident. That was their way of marking the start of the campaign for 2022.

The grapevine is buzzing that they want to field Bong Go for president with, hold on to your seats, Rodrigo Duterte for vice president.

I scratched my head and exclaimed that Digong is too tired to run for any national office. Well, apparently, that doesn’t matter. He could be half dead, but a Bong Go-Rodrigo Duterte ticket is unbeatable.

Two questions… why Bong Go instead of Sara Duterte and why field Digong for vice president? I am told the group around the President find Sara too independent. Hindi siya batang klub. Bong Go is.

Why make Digong run for vice president? They want to make sure a Leni Robredo doesn’t happen again. In any case, Digong can resign and they can get Congress to affirm the appointment of Cayetano in his place.

O di ba… happy days are forever!

This early, they want to make sure that Manny Pacquiao or Isko Moreno won’t get to first base if they have any presidential ambitions. That’s why Bong Go’s senatorial campaign has not ended. That’s why Cayetano needs the aura of successfully managing SEA Games.

Ay naku. Just when I was resigned to a Pacquiao presidency, this news blows into my face. I figure that at least, the PacMan is using his own money (probably with some pork) to build low cost housing and a public hospital in his home province. Those are two issues close to my heart.

The big problem with the PacMan is that he may be easily swayed by all the bad elements shadowing him. I was hoping that maybe he has learned how to deal with useless and parasitic hangers-on.

Maybe with the PacMan, it is all a matter of getting the right people with no vested interests to get close to him in the next two years to school him on how to deal with the country’s problems.

In a sense Isko Moreno is ahead of PacMan in the appreciation of governance issues. But he is shining too fast, easily inviting the negative forces to cut him down to size as 2022 approaches.

As it is right now, Duterte and the two other brightest political stars are off to an early start. Go has his so called Malasakit Centers, and Cayetano his SEA Games, both paid for by our taxes. Between now and 2022, politics will be a primary consideration in everything government does.

That’s why Cayetano’s leadership, or lack of it, at the SEA Games is important. Normally, it should be the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) working with the Philippine Olympic Committee calling the shots. They were sidelined by Cayetano who formed his organizing committee and made it into a “foundation.”

As we learned from the Napoles cases, the use of “foundations” is the most convenient way of getting the money of taxpayers to escape usual audit scrutiny. COA will still eventually audit, but long after the money is gone.

From what we saw and learned from the Senate public hearing on the kaldero, the PSC head is trying his best to stay away from potential blame. He told the Senate that the money merely passes the PSC and goes straight to Cayetano’s foundation.

Eventually, Cayetano will have to explain how the money was used but he is a bright political star. Has any bright political star ever been held accountable under our system?

Hopefully, the PSC chairman doesn’t end up having to defend himself before the Ombudsman and the Sandiganbayan. He seems like a nice and honest man who is more at home at the physical education department of Ateneo de Davao than Imperial Manila. He is at PSC only as a favor to Digong.

But as I said last Monday, we are now expected to run this regional games and national honor is at stake. It didn’t start well with the first delegations to arrive. From what I can gather, we still look like headless chickens running in all directions while visiting athletes starve and get stranded.

This is a pity. If there is something Filipinos do well, it is hosting international events. We have done this a number of times. If Cayetano fumbles this one, it would almost negate our many achievements in this area.

Now it seems the efficient conduct of the games are in the hands of unhappy volunteers and incompetent organizing officials. If Cayetano’s ego was less bloated, he would have sought the help of trained personnel in the various government agencies.

The convention people in DOT, DFA, BSP and even at the Presidential Communications Office are veterans in doing this sort of thing. The help of the private sector Tourism Congress should have also been sought early in the preparations.

According to Politiko, a website, government officials had offered to help organize the SEA Games as early as 2018, but the Cayetano-led group refused.

“Matigas ang ulo, nagmayabang. Kaya daw nila (Cayetano-PHISGOC) mag-isa,” the Politiko source said.

Let us see what this bright star can deliver. One way or the other, it will be good for the country. If he succeeds, it is good for national pride. If he fumbles, it hopefully dims one bright star for the country’s good... sana for good.

Boo Chanco’s e-mail address is [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco