So now everyone pretty much agrees (perhaps grudgingly) that Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay will be President of the Philippines in 2016 — that is, unless the clowns who have been defaulting to the political strategy of last resort, mudslinging the public favourite, can come up with a viable challenger.
Alas, the only bozo they could come up with is two-time sucker, current Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas. That’s a sad indictment of the future Opposition’s ability put up a united front against the allegedly evil Binay clan who are set to consolidate their power over this sad nation. The game hasn’t change. Winnability is the key word in Philippine elections, and Roxas can only beat Binay by winning voters’ hearts.
Is Roxas up to the job?To begin with, he needs to convince everyone that his daddy’s Liberal Party (LP) stands for something. What exactly does the LP stand for? That’s a tough question, made more so for the simple fact that you can ask the same question of any Filipino political party and get no more than the sound of a bunch of bald heads being scratched in response.
Binay, on the other hand, does not pretend to stand for anything other than Dole-Out Galore. His strategy is quite simple, as my colleague Ilda pointed out earlier. You just need to be good at identifying the right buttons amongst the Filipino Vote to push. Indeed, there are just two Filipino Vote buttons that, hands down, wins elections when pushed hard — (1) giving away free stuff and (2) giving out stuff in return for very little work.
Binay is good at that. Unfortunately for his detractors, Mar Roxas isn’t. This fact is quite evident in the litany of failed PR stunts that blight his campaign record — from making a spectacle of himself directing traffic under the rain, driving a pedicab, walking around carrying a sack of onions, to all but botching the PR crown jewel his boss Philippine President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III handed to him on a silver platter in 2013: being on top of the relief operations following the Typhoon Haiyan disaster.
Suffice to say, the Opposition against incoming President Binay are in a bind. If they cannot compete on personality well, gosh, that just means they will have to compete on ideas. What a shocking reality to confront!
Interestingly enough, the Liberal Party is pretty much the only political party left in the Philippines that has roots in some semblance of an ideology considering it was founded by former President Manuel Roxas from what was once “the ‘Liberal Wing’ of the old Nacionalista Party,” the latter being the equivalent conservative party in Philippine politics. So the Philippines’ LP seems to be the equivalent of the United States’s Democratic Party — which (in contrast with the Republican Party and its equivalent Nacionalista Party in the Philippines) upholds the general view that equality trumps fairness and entitlement takes precedence over earning. Something like that.
Ironic, isn’t it? The LP is actually rooted in the very principles that underpin Binay’s election winning strategy.
Unfortunately, trawling the Liberal Party website for detail to validate this theory is a waste of time as there is none such detail to be found there. For that matter, there is none such as well for its antithetical counterpart, the Nacionalista Party, which pretty much validates the earlier assertion that Philippine politics is really underpinned by nothing that resembles philosophies, ideologies, or ideas.
So we now have some idea of the challenge Binay’s Opposition needs to step up to in order to beat Binay and his so-called “Binay-arans” — selling a presidential candidate for what his or her party stands for rather than going head-to-head with the larger-than-life cult of personality that Binay enjoys. Unless Jesus Christ himself comes down from the heavens to run under the Liberal Party banner or, for that matter, the banners of any Philippine political “party” that seeks to prevent a Binay presidency in 2016, beating Binay will be akin to betting your life’s savings on winning the lottery.
Can the Opposition change the game from one that involves pimping out cults of winnable personalities to one that involves pitching compelling ideas to the Filipino voter? Only time will tell. One must think positive. There remains a whole year and a half before Filipinos troop to the precincts to select their next “leader”.
Indeed, it all comes back to the old familiar challenge: Platform Plez.
Perhaps, by some miracle the Philippine electorate may transform from being composed of the sorts of fools who routinely elect the least-qualified candidate to be their leader to one of people that carefully evaluate their candidates’ vision for the Philippines over the six years theywill be serving the country. Filipinos, after all, are renowned for pinning their hopes for a better future on miracles. You just gotta believe, right?[Photo courtesy Manila Bulletin.]
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