It’s déjà vu all over again. The stage is set for another Erap-style election campaign and, very likely, another Erap-style Philippine presidency. The Philippine Vote has never been as polarised. On one camp is the noisy Illustrado class, technology “savvy”, social media equipped, and encamped in their local Starbucks cafe getting their latte fixes for the battle ahead. On the other side is all the dark matter, the behaviour of which is shrouded in mystery. It is the Filipino masa vote. It is a mass of electoral power that remains all but a mystery to even the most astute political “expert”.
To be sure, within the domain of supposedly “intellectualised” analysis of social media “activists”, Vice President Jejomar Binay’s popularity campaign had been severely set back. His backpedalling from a challenge to a debate he issued to his nemesis mutineer-turned-‘senator’ Antonio Trillanes IV turned him into a Yellow chicken before the eyes of his detractors. Indeed, he should have learned from his own daughter, Senator Nancy Binay who, faced with the same goading to a “debate” by the social media mob in 2013, wisely sidestepped mounting calls for her to engage in that pointless exercise. “Let’s win the Senate race first,” she said in response to challenges from Team PNoy sellout and rival candidate Risa Hontiveros who was struggling to make the “Magic 12″ in any one of those “surveys” on voter sentiment that proliferated at the time.
Of course it is in the best interest of any vacuous politician to steer clear of any sort of event that could burst their public perception bubble. No one knew this better than Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III himself. Ellen Tordesillas in a January 2010 blog post observed how then candidate BS Aquino also employed a minimalist media exposure strategy to ensure that his own vacuousness was not laid bare on national television…
Liberal Party presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, who is leading in all election surveys, has declined the invitation to participate in [a foreign policy forum for presidential candidates organised by the Carlos P Romulo Foundation, the Asian Institute of Management, and the ABS-CBN News Channel]. Surprisingly, Nacionalista Party presidential bet Manny Villar, who used to have a phobia with presidential fora, has agreed to attend.
This is not the first time that Aquino would be snubbing a foreign-policy related forum. He was also a no-show in the forum on Millenium Development Goals co-sponsored by the MDG Campaign and the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines in October 2009.
Aquino’s avoidance of the Jan. 14 event gives credence to talks that since he was not impressive in the past few presidential fora he has participated in, his handlers have decided to limit his exposure to such activity to protect his lead.
Binay should fire his handlers for not giving him the best strategic advise on the basis of all this obvious learning. History has shown that Filipino voters routinely ignore the obvious signs of the vacuousness — and even criminality — of their politicians at their own peril. Armed with this bit of hindsight, it is easy to see now why Philippine foreign affairs is in shambles today. BS Aquino had already exhibited his phobia of the topic of foreign policy even during his campaign for the presidency!
With politcians’ favourite strategy of debate avoidance to mask their lack of substance, the Philippine voter becomes the country’s own worst enemy — forming a vast army of ignorance that will be marching to the polls to once again determine the fate of the nation in 2016.
Binay has lots of time to recover and re-paint his image from Yellow chicken to Dark Knight. Again, stating the obvious, the template for the sort of election winning strategy Binay seems to be in the process of applying in the lead up to the 2016 presidential elections had been drawn first by former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada back in 1998. He won the Philippine presidency despite him being everything that the Philippines’ chattering Illustrado class detest. And he almost won the presidency again in 2010, losing only to Aquino not because Aquino was the better candidate, but because the latter was surfing a powerful emotional wave that had hijacked Filipino minds — and votes — following the death of his mother former President Corazon ‘Cory’ Aquino.
The trouble with Philippine-styled “democracy” is that it is premised on the assumption that Filipinos know what is good for them — a sad reality that people like former President Erap Estrada and current Philippine BS Aquino owe their victory at the polls to, and what Binay will likely owe his imminent presidency in 2016 to. In a democracy, majority rules as they say. As far as fundamentalist democracy apologists are concerned, when the “people” have “spoken” what they speak of is ncecessarily the right way forward.
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