The persistent popularity of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continues to baffle the “experts”. No less than Mahar Mangahas, resident popularity survey “expert” of the Inquirer.net issued an evidently painfully convoluted “clarification” of the most recent poll which showed Duterte at a par with the likes of the presidential greats of the last 20 years (notably, former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III was not among these greats trailing Duterte by almost 10 points).
What is interesting is this bafflement is exactly the same bafflement the Opposition gnashed their teeth about a year ago in 2016 when Duterte aced the elections hands down. In short the Philippine Opposition continue to fail to understand what they are up against.
The no-brainer here is that to even think of going up against a popular politician in a “democracy”, an Opposition needs to work together and unite. So the no-brainer strategic problem the Philippine Opposition faces is that they lack that credible uniting personality. This is a showstopper considering most Opposition ideologies (perhaps with the exception of the commies) are all personality-based. Indeed, the most influential and resource-rich faction of the Opposition, the Liberal Party (collectively known as the “Yellowtards” in the vernacular) are really no more than a personality cult disguised as a “modern” political party. To the average Yellowtard, the political landscape is divided on the basis of who “worships” who.
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Take the popular Twitter “activist” Francis B Baraan who believes that supporters of Duterte are “satanists” and, presumably, that opposition “leaders” like current “vice president” Leni Robredo are “saints”. So much for 21st Century thinking. Yet, Baraan commands close to 26,000 followers on Twitter — which says something about the way Yellowtards “think” in this day and age.
From that vantage point, it is easy to see why the Opposition — led by the Yellowtards — remain baffled and unable to gain any new ground in their efforts to chisel away at the popular mandate Duterte continues to enjoy. They do not understand the enemy. They didn’t back in 2016 and they still do not (or kennat in the current Imperial Manila lingo) even today. Not knowing your enemy when you go to battle is, as most thinking Filipinos know, one of Sun Tzu’s mortal sins of warfare…
If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
In the case of the Philippine Opposition, it knows neither the enemy nor itself. The fact that the Opposition lacks any consistent ideological underpinning around which to unite is evidence that it is hopelessly stuck in a crisis of both ideology and relevance. This is because it had built its relevance on a fabled Laban (“fight”) narrative that had been worn to tatters by 30 years of overuse and had built an ideology of saintly “heroes” and satanic “dictators” reminiscent of the quaint mythologies that once propped up the theocracies of ancient civilisations.There are, of course, intelligent Filipinos in the Philippine Opposition. Heck, there may even be a few of them in the Yellowtard clique itself! But considering that people like Baraan and the likes of celebrities like Jim “Look at Me” Paredes, “thought leaders” like Raissa “Tililing” Robles, and politicians like Leni “The Alleged Vice President” Robredo seem to represent the Philippine Opposition should be regarded as an absolute tragedy by true thinkers in the Philippine Opposition.
The challenge for those who genuinely would like to reform the Opposition is to purge it of the clowns who infest it with medieval thinking and behave like religious zealots on social media. That’s a tall order if one considers how much the Yellowtards dominate the Philippine Opposition. It is quite obvious that Duterte won the 2016 elections on the back of a widespread public disgust for everything “yellow”. Indeed, included in the campaign paraphernalia used by the Duterte campaign machine were images of yellow colours dominating crowds of rallying Opposition “activists”. Even the relatively multi-partisan and multi-faith community of Martial Law Crybabies lament rallies that had failed because of what they perceived to be an effort hijacked by the Yellowtards.
The obvious starting point to reinvigorate the Philippine Opposition and get it to a state that will make it a potent and intelligent enough force to keep the Duterte administration — and its “die hard” supporters — honest is to break out of the obsolete and circular thinking it is currently imprisoned in. To do that it will need to get to know the enemy better. Only when that understanding is achieved could the Opposition begin the journey of answering, the truly difficult questions…
Why did the Liberal Party lose the 2016 elections?
Why does Duterte continue to be popular?
Why are Filipinos happy with the “war on drugs”?
Why aren’t Filipinos concerned about Martial Law?
The fact is…
Religion and voodoo thinking have proven to offer no answers to these questions.
As such, it is a pointless and rather primitive exercise to be using concepts such as “good” and “evil” in modern political discourse. Certainly, labelling people you don’t like as followers of “Satan” does not help. Unfortunately for the Philippine Opposition, such concepts and artefacts remain deeply-cherished relics of 1980s thinking that continue to remain ingrained in their “activist” paraphernalia.
To learn from one’s mistakes, one needs to get real and face the truth. If one remains fixated in archaic beliefs and avoids evaluating evidence with a critical mind, guess what: no lessons will be learned.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.