The trouble with the Opposition today is that there is none such of consequence. And to be fair to the Yellow mob surrounding Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, they were, as oppositionists during past regimes, a tough act to follow. After all, as Opposition to former President Marcos, then during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Yellow mob was a force to reckon with. They put the big “O” in “Opposition”. They had a united front — united behind the Yellow shade and the “L” hand gesture that stands for Laban (“fight”) — and two well-loved national heroes directly associated to their “cause”, the ‘martyred’ former Senator Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino Jr and his late wife and former President Cory Aquino.
Unfortunately that Opposition mentality did not mature into an Administration mentality. Over the last four years, not only the Yellow mob but the President himself stuck steadfastly to the adolescence of Laban rhetoric — flashing the “L” hand gesture at every opportunity and wearing that yellow ribbon. Even more bizarre, President BS Aquino would paint the very Establishment itself — the Establishment he is currently a part of — as the Goliath to his David persona reminiscent of those old Laban days.
It is the same warm fuzzy mentality that the President sought comfort in when the Big Bad Supreme Court shot down his beloved Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).
That speech on the 14th of July where President BS Aquino had his claws out at the SC was classic Laban stance. It had all the ingredients that fueled the old ocho-ocho march-of-the-lemmings that characterised most street parliamentarism spectacles post 1986: populist rhetoric (many people supposedly benefited), end-justifies-the-means-rationale (they had to do what it took to get the results), and there was an evil empire standing in the way (the Supreme Court). The ultimate manifestation of President BS Aquino’s daft nostalgia for all that was his laughable call for his supporters to wear the yellow ribbon in “protest” against the SC. Unfortunately for him, that old Church of Protest that President BS Aquino continues to genuflect to even as President no longer holds Filipinos’ minds hostage.
From that perspective, however, one could now appreciate the challenge faced by today’s opposition (written with a small “o” for now). Just as the ol’ — d’original — 1986 Edsa “Revolution” could not be replicated by subsequent rallyists, so too can’t the signature unity of the Yellow mob be replicated by those in mainstream Philippine politics who seek to oppose the current administration.
The opportunity for the opposition to shine today is golden. Recent events have turned the tide against President BS Aquino and his Yellow mob. Aquino’s popularity is on a downward spiral and the stink of the DAP fallout is likely to stick to his government over the remaining two years of his term. The opposition has unwittingly (no credit to any semblance of a political strategy or conscious collective effort on their part) got the Administration on the run. But will it be able to continue giving it chase and run it to the ground in the lead up to 2016?
The prospect of that happening isn’t very promising. Not one of any of the mainstream politicians in the Philippine opposition today possesses the cojones to let rip the sort of firey, evangelical, rhetoric that could move millions of cattle head down a single direction. The opposition today lacks celebrity firepower and relies on D-list turncoats like Mae “Juana Change” Paner and a largely-discredited Leftist community to lead the charge. Top celebrities many of whom came of age under the notion that Yellow equals Holy are either too indoctrinated to snap out of that induced stupor or remain reluctant or unsure about challenging an old three-decade school of partisan thought.
The facts behind the fall from grace of President BS Aquino evidently aren’t enough to galvanise the country’s opinion shapers. Well-respected journalists tiptoe around the carcass of the rotting elephant in the room. A tweet fielded last night by Senator JV Ejercito captures that overly-cautious (and, as such, ineffectual) approach to real Opposition (with a big “O”)…
I will stay and continue to be in the opposition. Was elected as an oppositionist. Will try my best to be a constructive opposition.
…yes, of course, Mr Senator. But that’s not good enough to crush the deeply entrenched and dysfunctional thinking that underpins the Yellowist mind that, despite the DAP-induced setback of the Administration, remains a strong force to face. I say that mindset needs to be crushed because this same style of thinking in the majority of Filipinos will likely result in a not-too-different outcome come the next elections. As Albert Einstein say: You can’t solve a problem using the same thinking that created it. And to doing one’s “best”? John Mason (played by Sean Connery) had a good response to that emo truism in the 1996 film The Rock: “Losers whine about their best. Winners go home and [bonk] the Prom Queen.”
If we don’t want a repeat of the Aquino administration in 2016, then the thinking that catapulted BS Aquino and his lot to power needs to be stamped out. You cannot do that with opposition leaders who believe in organising love-ins. You need a warrior to challenge a bloc whose singular enduring slogan is LABAN. We are talking about an Administration that mounted a no-mercy scorched earth purge of its enemies over the last four years. President BS Aquino sought to beat his enemies. That alone tells us the sort of Opposition needed to beat this political bloc.
I responded to Senator Ejercito’s tweet thus…
In times like these, a leader of the Opposition needs to take a clear unequivocal pos’n on specific matters & NOT mince words. @jvejercito
At the very least, Senator.
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