Three power blocs composed of family and friends will be exerting their influence over President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the next six years, according to Babblers from government and business circles.
Based on how the 64-year old Marcos and his team have operated in the weeks after his landslide victory, the major forces who have so far emerged as faction leaders in his circle are:
* Incoming First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos and her children, specifically neophyte politiko Sandro, a first-term congressman of Ilocos Norte.
* Marcos’ first cousin, bilyonaryo and incoming Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez; and
* Marcos’ best buddies, including incoming Executive Secretary Vic Rodriguez, incoming Interior and Local Government Secretary Benhur Abalos, and incoming Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto “Anton” Floirendo Lagdameo Jr.
Marcos’ predecessors notably had only two rival camps wresting influence from each other.
The administration of the late former President Benigno Aquino III had the Balay and Samar blocs while the outgoing Duterte administration was divided between the warring Davao blocs: one led by Senator Bong Go and the other by Vice President-elect Sara Duterte.
Curiously, Babblers believe Senator Imee Marcos and former First Lady Imelda Marcos will be on the outside looking in under Bongbong’s administration.
Their distance from the President is supposedly part of the strategy for his administration to start on a clean slate without the baggage of the first Marcos regime.
A Babbler said Marcos’ better half is likely to be the most influential in his administration. Liza, a second cousin of former Senator Mar Roxas, is a well-respected lawyer who has declared no interest in joining the government.
“No way. They can’t afford me…I’ll fire all of them. I’m very New York, so it has to be my way or the highway,” said Liza in an interview with Boy Abunda.
Liza’s influence extends to their first born, Sandro, who has been visible in major political events involving his father. A Babbler said despite being a neophyte, Sandro is expected to play a major role in the next Congress.
Expected to help Sandro navigate the legislative maze is his uncle, the 58-year old Romualdez, whose quick and decisive move to secure the speakership sealed his emergence as a political juggernaut in his cousin’s administration.
Meanwhile, Rodriguez, Abalos and Lagdameo formed the core of Marcos’ screening committee which filled out Marcos’ Cabinet in the past few weeks.
The 54-year old Lagdameo is a grandson of “banana king” Antonio Floirendo Sr., one of the political and business cronies of the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
He is one of the close friends of Bongbong just like the 59-year old Abalos whose family was reportedly tight with the Marcoses before and after his father, former Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos, was appointed mayor of Mandaluyong in 1986 by then president Cory Aquino.
Th 48-year old Rodriguez – Marcos’ chief of staff, spokesperson and abogado – have formed a bond since Marcos narrowly lost the vice presidential race in 2016.
A Babbler said he considered Rodriguez and Lagdameo more as partners with Abalos expected to form his own power base.