Duterte’s revelation on Bato phone call exposes De Lima spy at the PNP

Duterte’s revelation on Bato phone call exposes De Lima spy at the PNP

- in Opinion


During Karen Davila’s Headstart, Bato first said that someone higher than him called him to reinstate Marcos. He didn’t reveal who that person is. He didn’t deny nor confirm if it were the president or a cabinet secretary. In the next interview Bato said, it’s not the president. It’s actually his “kumpare.” Duterte is his ninong and not his kumpare, he said. Then De Lima entered the scene, she said that according to her reliable source, Bong Go is the kumpare. Bato denied it’s Bong Go. Bato promised to reveal his kumpare if De Lima will reveal her source. De Lima said, she has no “duty to disclose” who her source was when she accused Go.

My father was a chess player, with a rank of national chess master, part of the so-called old vanguard. I seldom saw him because my parents were already separated when I was born. One of our few bonding moments was chess. I learned how to play chess when I was 5 or 6. He explained to me the strengths and weakness of different chess openings, why they are important, how to checkmate the opponent using different combinations of chess pieces, different types of gambits, how chess players think: some are more systematic, very mathematical, some are very intuitive, he told me I was more of the latter. When I was in Grade 3, I tried joining the chess team. When the coach heard my surname, he asked immediately: Tatay mo si Allan Sasot? I said yes. After the first meeting, I didn’t pursue it anymore for reasons that merit another story. The latest episode in this De Lima’s Dilemma Saga reminds me of the Fool’s Mate and the King’s Gambit.


One of the worst mistakes the White player could do, my father told me, is the fool’s mate: Two Black moves is all it takes to checkmate White. This is an amateur mistake, but could also be committed by reckless experienced players.

If it’s true that Bong Go was the one who called Bato, then Bato’s revelation has set himself up for a Fool’s Mate. De Lima saw this foolishness and exploited it to the hilt. If what we are seeing is really the road to a fool’s mate, then what we are witnessing could be the end days of Duterte: Bong Go can provide a link to Duterte and EJKs. Yet appearing like a fool can also be a strategy. That is the point of the King’s Gambit.


The King’s Gambit is a classic chess opening. An aggressive White opening, which looks rather romantic because it deliberately weakens the King’s position. Experienced players know how to avoid this bait (Bobby Fisher wrote an essay in the 60’s refuting the King’s Gambit). But the idiot and arrogant (oh my that is a foolish move!) often accepts the King’s Gambit, exposing him/herself to devastating attacks. But this gambit can’t just easily be successfully executed by anyone: it requires an experienced tactician.

Duterte has been doing this during the campaign. He weakened his position by being vulgar, looking like a fool, opening himself to every possible attack. His opponents kept on accepting his gambit: Roxas, Binay, Poe. They rejoiced whenever Duterte committed a faux pas. Yet by playing with the fool, the fool ended up playing with them.

There’s a method behind Duterte’s madness, but his opponents are focusing on the madness and not on the method. But how can they win against a King’s gambit if they haven’t experienced weakening their own positions and tarnishing their own name as a tactic to achieve a higher goal?

So why did Bato act like a fool by teasing the public about a higher official inside Malacañan calling him to reinstate Marcos? If what we’re seeing is a King’s Gambit, then Duterte et al are just trying to reveal the full network that has been trying to aid De Lima in this game.

It’s so easy to see that De Lima’s moves are all calculated. Her sudden revelation of her relationship with Ronnie Dayan came a week before the latter’s arrest. Someone is trying to help De Lima do her own calculation. There’s a snake in the garden. And the master tactician surely knows it already.

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About the author

Sass Rogando Sasot
A transpinay based in The Hague, Sass Rogando Sasot is studying at Leiden University, pursuing an MA in International Relations, working on a thesis on how a systemic change led to the rivalry of the coastal States of the South China Sea. In 2013, Sass became the first Filipino to receive the ECHO Award, given annually to excellent migrant students in academic and higher professional education in The Netherlands. In 2014, she graduated magna cum laude at Leiden University College-The Hague, with a Combined Major in World Politics and Global Justice, minor in International Development, with courses on U.S. Foreign Policy and International Relations of China take at UCLA. She has at least 10 years of practical international experience.

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