Hostilities break out between Marcos, Duterte camps

By Beting Laygo Dolor, Manila Editor

MANILA – In the strongest sign yet that all is not well within the “Unity” government led by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr on one side and Vice President Sara Duterte, on the other, the father and brother of the latter threw serious allegations at the former, and his family.

Over the weekend, former president Rodrigo Duterte accused Mr. Marcos of being a drug addict, even stating that the incumbent president was on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s (PDEA) watchlist during the Duterte regime.

This was immediately denied by the PDEA, even after Mr. Duterte said that the Agency itself had informed him of Mr. Marcos’ alleged drug habit.

The ex-president called the incumbent chief executive a “son of a bitch” who should watch his back, as he could meet the same fate as his father, the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, who was forced out of office by the 1986 People Power revolution.

Davao City Mayor Sebastian Duterte also went on the offensive, calling on Mr. Marcos to resign if he could not prove his love of country.

The younger Duterte said Mr. Marcos’s foreign policy “endangers the lives of innocent Filipinos.” He also said the president was lazy and lacking in compassion.

The president did not answer the mayor, but he did say that Mr. Duterte was possibly not thinking clearly due to the effects of his admitted drug use.

“I think it’s the fentanyl,” Mr. Marcos said, adding that he believes the former president “had been taking the drug for a very long time now.”

After five or six years of its use, Mr. Marcos said, “it has to affect him.”

The former president had famously admitted to using the dangerous drug on “doctor’s orders” as a result of his injuries suffered while riding his motorcycle.

Mr. Duterte has also alluded to First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos for being involved in various anomalies related to alleged smuggling, but did not divulge details.

Political analysts and pundits said that the verbal attacks by the Dutertes showed that the political partnership between the two families was in serious trouble.

Caught in the crossfire is Senator Imee Marcos, sister of the president, who has sided with the Dutertes due to what she maintains is their debt of gratitude to the former president, who was among the early supporters of her brother when he announced his bid for the presidency two years ago.

VP Duterte, meanwhile, has tried to show that she remains on amicable terms with the president, even after she has openly taken potshots at House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, first cousin of the president and the lady senator.

The VP appeared to allude to the Speaker when she said she did not deserve the “despicable treatment” she was receiving from “sectors within the circle of the president.”

The Duterte family has spoken out against the People’s Initiative (PI), which has the backing of the Speaker.

Oddly enough, Senator Marcos has also accused Speaker Romualdez of providing the funding for the PI. This despite the denial of Romualdez, who has only said that he favors charter change and was not an “active” player in the initiative.

Ms. Marcos accused her cousin of “doublespeak” after the Speaker had agreed to help stop the PI, but which continues even after several senators said they were sure Romualdez was behind the activity.

The entire 24-member Senate last week blasted the House of Representatives for its apparent move to bulldoze charter change via the PI.

For now, the political battle lines have been drawn, with former president Duterte, VP Duterte, Mayor Sebastian Duterte, and Senator Imee Marcos pitted against President Marcos and Speaker Romualdez, who now has an iron grip on the House after the majority of its members abandoned the Duterte family-run PDP-Laban and transferred to his Lakas-CMD.