The latest move by President-elect Rody Duterte, that of instructing his in-coming DPWH Sec. Mark Villar to disclose to the public all the projects of his family, and to avoid building roads that would specifically benefit their landholdings, shows just how much he is ahead of the political game.
It can be recalled that when he first appointed Villar, people questioned his judgement, saying that he was paying off political favors just like any traditional politician. It became the focal point of the attacks by his opponents, and was even the cause of concern for some of his followers. But like all his previous political moves, his plans are now becoming much clearer.
Like a general in battle, he used the appointement to cement his alliance with the Nationalista Party headed by Mark’s father, businessman Manny Villar. He needed this to secure his flank from the LP, who was rumored to have been planning to remove him from office. This was the immediate danger that he needed to solve.
But after the threat of impeachment was eliminated, Duterte was once again on the move, this time to strengthen his support from the public by demonstrating that he will not be manipulated by his friends (Pastor Quiboloy), his enemies (the Catholic Church), his allies (Villar, et al) and anyone else who thinks they can put one over him. By going back to his solid base of supporters, he is also demonstrating to the other politicians that he has the backing of the Filipino people and any move against him will not have popular support.
So at this point in the game, he has the best position and everyone is where he wants them to be – Belmonte is gone, the LP is disorganized, the media are confused, the bishops’ influence is diminished, and his supporters are happy. As to the Villar, he can either comply and do a great job at the DPWH (which would prove that Duterte was right all along) or decline and expose themselves to public scorn.
The fact is, Mayor Duterte is one of the most – if not the most – intelligent politician in the country. His moves leave his enemies confused and his supporters in awe. And whatever he chooses to do next, the only thing certain is that it is something that no one will expect.