Philippine “senator” Antonio Trillanes’s epic choke during an interview with Stephen Sackur in the BBC’s HARDtalk programme last week all but highlighted the sad disarray of the Philippine Opposition. Indeed, last week was a perfect storm as it saw the coming together of insight into just how inutile the Philippine Opposition of today has become. For people who seek to prematurely depose the president (presumably with that favourite extrajudicial method of theirs that they call “people power”), Sackur’s torpedoeing of the Trillanes brand couldn’t have come at a worse time. On that same week, journalist Bea Cupin’s recent article The fall of the ‘dilawang’ Liberal Party (LP) came online viaRappler and chronicled in grinding detail the “descent of the once all-powerful party”.
In light of these developments (specifically on Cupin’s article) House Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr (LP) wistfully tweeted, “What LP should do though is reflect on our mistakes and missed opportunities. And embrace our role as a fiscalizer, critical collaborator.” Interestingly, the congressman evidently recognises the core essence of the LP (presuming, of course, that it actually does represent the ideals of the so-called “liberals”) as can be gleaned from another one of his tweets…
We’re d favorite whipping boys of critics and pundits but ultimately when forces conspire to limit our freedoms, who ya gonna call? Liberals
Unfortunately for Baguilat, the battle cry he recommends as a response to the question “Who ya gonna call?” is not shared by members of his own camp. That’s because many in his Yellow Camp would not even know what he means when he refers to the term liberals in the true sense he applies when invoking it. Rather, to most in his camp, the answer to “Who ya gonna call?” will be a resounding LENI ROBREDO! To Filipinos, after all, it’s all about people and less about ideas. To the average dilawan, Robredo is the Liberal Party and, they presume, the leader of the broader Philippine Opposition itself. On the latter point, Baguilat agrees, “We’re [the] only organized political opposition,” he tweets in reference to the LP.
Thus, in this regard, it is a monumental tragedy for the Opposition that they were sunk by Trillanes who many do not see as the leader of the Opposition. Indeed, if anybody should have been on Sackur’s hot seat, it should have been the supreme leader of the Opposition herself.
But it’s not too late. Robredo could still step up and redeem Trillanes’s crushed dignity. After all, some Filipinos still want her to be president someday and see her as eminently qualified for the job. What better way to prove that she is president material than by subjecting herself to a real journalist’s grilling. What does she have to lose? She will perform way better than Duterte in any Q&A — or so the dilawans believe.
The problem with Robredo, however, is that she can’t speak English. That’s a real show-stopper considering that those who defend Trillanes’s performance in the heat of Sackur’s grilling are convinced he “did well” only on the low-bar basis of his being able to “respond to all of Sackur’s questions”. In short, Trillanes’s having a rudimentary enough understanding of a question articulated in English and being able to respond to it in a way that the predominantly monolingual English-speaking audience that Sackur’s show attracts can understand is good enough. In other words, pwede na yan.
Unfortunately for Robredo, her command of the English language is way below pwede na yan. Halfway through each sentence Robredo cobbles together on the fly, Sackur would surely cut her to pieces. Robredo’s colegiala act simply won’t fly in a cutthroat world of important people who have very little time. Time and again she has proven not just her verbal ineptness but her hopelessly inappropriate body language, first in the girly manner that she wrapped herself around Duterte’s finger during her first few weeks in office and in the whimsical way she presented herself in a pre-recorded video played at the 60th annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna, Austria.
Suffice to say, the Opposition does not only suffer from a crisis of leadership, it suffers from a crisis of competent statesmanship. This is why, for the sake of the Opposition’s future, it is important that Trillanes’s appalling snafu be redeemed. Who ya gonna call??
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