Offline: Who will replace Bongbong Marcos?

Those who ask the obvious question of who will replace Bongbong Marcos — if for whatever reason he is removed from office – need to know the possibilities, of which there are several.

The answer for now is just as obvious – Sara Duterte, of course.

Of course, did I say? Not necessarily. In fact, I daresay, definitely not.

Recall that when his father and namesake was forcibly removed from Malacanang in 1986, his vice president Arturo Tolentino did not assume the presidency. He may not have been sent into exile, but there was no way that he would have become president without being violently removed himself.

Of course in the other Edsa revolt, then vice president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was allowed by the military to replace Erap Estrada, while the military under Marcos Sr. had no choice but to install Cory Aquino as chief executive.

So the question to ask should be: Is the Marcos presidency Part 2 closer to the first Marcos presidency, or more like the Estrada regime?

It is neither and it is both. Or rather, it combines the worst of both administrations. He is at the very least as lazy as Erap, and there are indications he and his wife and other relatives allow the same level of corruption of the dictator called Makoy.

Marcos Jr’s enjoyment of flying first class at every opportunity is no longer just irksome, it is bothersome. That he brings along a retinue of hangers on smacks of a return to the glory days of his mother, former first lady  Imelda Marcos, who enjoyed nothing more than flying to wherever she felt like in order to go shopping. At the taxpayers’ expense, of course.

Junior will then come home with unverifiable claims of “commitments” from supposed bit business groups to invest in the Philippines.

This was the excuse former president Rodrigo Duterte made each time he went to China to kowtow to Xi Jinping. He claimed getting mega loans from China, when in fact he was making all sorts of deals with the dictator, including a gentleman’s agreement or two. Or more. No one knows for sure.

This early, there is already some talk of removing Marcos, and one of the unexpected defenders of Bongbong is none other than former senator Antonio Trillanes.

He defense is simple. Ridding the country of Marcos is tantamount to jumping from the frying pan to the fire, as a second president Duterte will be a calamity, says Trillanes.

By law, it is only Sara Duterte who may succeed Junior.

Trillanes is right, but the former senator is forgetting one thing  — the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as the Philippine National Police may not be inclined to allow a pro-China president in the palace.

If Junior is forced to resign, the AFP will likely treat Sara the same way Tolentino was treated back in ’86. She will be a pariah nationwide, but will likely find her way back to some position of power in Davao City.

Next in line would be newly-installed Senate President Chiz Escudero, who carries the heavy baggage of being known ames a Marcos yes man. He is so closely identified with Junior that the AFP, PNP, and most of civil society with the academe and business sectors thrown in would not be happy with Escudero handling the executive department. He would be allowed to keep his Senate presidency, but not receive the keys to the kingdom that is Malacanan Palace.

After Escudero, next in line would be House Speaker Martin Romualdez.

No need to state the obvious. As first cousin of Junior, he will receive the same treatment from the police and the military and everyone else.

If Junior and family are forced to flee a second time, Mr. Speaker may as well join them in the plane that will take the Marcos family. Back to Hawaii, perhaps? Or maybe New York, since Junior’s wife, the current First Lady, has claimed that she is a New Yorker at heart.

Hey, remember when old man Makoy and Imelda were flying out of the country, courtesy of the US? Reports say that during the trip, Imelda was singing “New York, New York.”

So with the next in line after Junior and Sara beinunacceptable, it would be the chief justice of the Supreme Court who becomes interim president, doesn’t it?

This may not be such a bad choice, although a better one would be the presidential candidate that Junior supposedly defeated in  the last elections  — former vice president Leni Robredo.

Ever since her supposed loss in the last polls, former secretary of information and communications technology Eliseo Rio Jr. has been showing what he says is proof of massive cheating that resulted in Junior winning the presidential race.

He makes a strong case too, except it sounds too technical for most people.

But he asks a simple question: Why were the results showing a  landslide win for Junior known less than an hour after the close of polling precincts?

This was nothing short of miraculous, the retired general says.

Rio also says that Comelec has never presented proof that the results were verified.

Using his logic, it seems that Leni Robredo was the real winner, but she never contested the results. For what reason, we do not know. It may have been dangerous to do so, as violence would have erupted nationwide if she had called on her followers to reject the election results.

The AFP installing her as president may not be acceptable.

It would seem that the best alternative is for the chief justice serving as interim president to call for a presidential election soonest.

The danger here is that yet another populist who has zero qualifications for the presidency will run and win. One name being talked about as a possible next president is senator Raffy Tulfo, but he carries a lot of baggage.

That baggage is mostly expensive shoes and clothes, as he reportedly has a separate dwelling dedicated solely to his collection of pricey attire.

So scratch Tulfo for now. While he has been showing in Senate hearings that he brings with him some no-nonsense street smarts, he may not be ready for the presidency for the time being.

Please note that I am merely presenting possible scenarios.

Junior has been lucky thus far. The country’s economy is stable enough, although inflation remains worrisome. The political opposition remains weak, and there is only one true oppositionist in the Senate and a handful in the House.

Yes, Junior is indeed lucky, but there is no guarantee that his luck will last until the end of his term.

Vico Sotto is the brightest light who can one day lead the country to true greatness. But for now, he is way too young. Or is he? Now 34, isn’t he older than Emilio Aguinaldo was when the Caviteno became the country’s first president?

One scenario I have avoided mentioning is a full-blown AFP takeover. It’s a scary thought, although there are a number of good men and women in the upper echelons of the service who may have the leadership skills that the Philippines needs.

There’s an old saying, nature abhors a vacuum. I do not exclude the possibility that a young leader will soon emerge who can be the Great Leader that the country needs.

Or maybe it’s Leni Robredo, Risa Hontiveros, or Vic Sotto who should now be preparing themselves to take the helm if fate deals Junior another painful exit from the country.


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