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Basketball is familiar to all of us, so let’s begin with this comparison. Halftime is an important portion of each competitive game. It is the portion where the coaches make their strategic adjustments to address mismatches and draw up plays that ensure higher probability of making a basket. Players who aren’t doing well, or had early foul trouble, will be benched more, while those who showed signs of a good shooting night will be involved in the playmaking discussions. Importantly, and we see this all the time in movies, halftime is when the head coach does his motivational speech to bring out the best out of his players.

Basketball games normally change its tide after halftime. Those who watch basketball have seen this happen time and again. At times, a team has a 20-point lead in the end of the 1st half, only to lose at the end of the game after the adjustments made in halftime. Presently, we are in the latter part of the 2019 NBA Playoffs and there have been a number of tension-filled games that went up a notch after the halfway point. Winners and losers are, at times, determined during halftime.

In Philippine politics, halftime is the midterm elections. However, instead of the coaching staff deciding on who will play in the 2nd half, it is the people themselves through the exercise of their right to vote. The people decide who to best represent them in the latter part of the administration based on government’s performance in the first three years. It is the people that bestows the mandate on the elected officials, in line with the constitutional process, to either carry on what has been started or to put it all to an abrupt end.

Now that the winners are nearing their proclamation, we can safely say that the people have spoken and decided to throw their overwhelming support to the Duterte administration. This 18th Congress, from 2019 to 2022, we shall see a Senate dominated by the majority bloc, with only 4 from the Minority, which in reality is only three since Sen. Leila de Lima remains to be detained. We also expect to see another super majority in the House of Representatives, after the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) Party settles its internal matters on who will lead them as Speaker.

In a press conference last Saturday, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, PDP’s campaign manager, downplayed talks on who will lead the two chambers given the impressive performance of the party. Speaking like a true sports celebrity, Pacquiao said the party shall await the proclamation of all its candidates before sitting down and deciding on this important matter.
Though if we look at the numbers, it is possible for the Senate and the House to be led again by the successful tandem of Sen. Koko Pimentel and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. The two heads delivered in bringing forth the President’s legislative priorities and laid the foundation for what was signed into law during the terms of their successors, Sen. Tito Sotto and former President and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

For the House, it should be less of a problem now that Arroyo has termed out. The matter to be threshed for PDP is if it will field Alvarez, whose strong performance in Davao del Norte, wiping out the Floirendo-Del Rosario dynasty after 40 years of rule, showed his strong leadership, or if it will give chance to younger Congressmen to take the helm. It is trickier for the Senate with Sotto having three more years, and the surging popularity of reelectionist Sen. Cynthia Villar, having topped the senatorial elections. The Villars, staunch supporters of the President, are poised to make a run for higher positions in 2022.

Speaking of political dynasties, the toppled clans may have lost the midterm elections but will surely not give up on the war. Soon these politicians will ease their way to meet with the administration to offer what remains from their political capital. Given the high political IQ of the President, we are certain that he can use this to his, or to his chosen successor’s, advantage.

Countless news commentaries and articles have been published on how the opposition was walloped and trampled upon by the administration bets, but only a few emphasized that this may come at a price. The speed and haste on how politicians’ bandwagon in the Philippines is telling on the speed and haste they will do the same on the leading candidate for President in 2022. But with the new roster of administration candidates fielded after halftime, the traditional notion of the President being a “lame duck” in the last few years of his Presidency might be debunked as well. One thing’s for sure, President Rodrigo Duterte is locked and loaded to end his term with a bang.

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