The big question that should be asked of the Philippines’ Opposition is this: What alternative path do you propose?
As far as can be observed, the Opposition, led by the Liberal Party, has failed to elevate its discourse above the state it had been in back in 2016 when it lost the Philippines to the camp of current President Rodrigo Duterte. To date, the Opposition remains reactive rather than proactive. It does not have an agenda beyond its ongoing effort to harp ad infinitum on their imaginary causal link between Duterte and the “killings” on the ground.
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Stop to think if, as a voter, one can trust an Opposition that, beyond demonising Duterte, essentially proposes nothing else.
The fact is, there is a very obvious reason Duterte is president today. It is because Filipinos have become tired of the sameness of the liberal proposition. Thus the resilience of his popularity — and its seeming impervious nature in the face of this demonisation campaign — should be no mystery to the “thought leaders” of the Opposition.
The overused pillars of liberalism — “human rights”, “morality”, and “social justice” — had, in the hands of the Opposition, been perverted beyond recognition. Yet one can see today that they have not reevaluated their approach to opposing the Duterte government. Newspapers are still filled with headlines around outrage fads surrounding the latest victim porn artefact. And with every new victim paraded before the media, so increases the bafflement of the Opposition over why Filipinos in general remain utterly unmoved. The fact is, victim porn as a means to oppose the Duterte government is starting to succumb to the law of diminishing returns. The dreaded Lechon Manok Syndrome has set in on the continued use of dead bodies as a means to rally people to their cause.
The Philippine Opposition’s stubborn fixation on the notion that their camp are the “good guys” and everyone else — specifically those who continue to support Duterte — are the “bad guys” has prevented them from evolving into a more coherent political force. Indeed, the biggest miscalculation of the Opposition is failing to see the simple genius behind the message of Duterte to his people — that he has a clear vision for the country.
Thus emerges the equally simple question the Opposition need to ask themselves:
What alternative vision for the Philippines do they propose?
For now there is none — because the Opposition is all about the past. Worse it is fatally-grounded on upholding the very status quo that is the single biggest feature of their campaign that resulted in their loss of power in 2016 (and their continued irreversible slide to irrelevance today).
Fixation on the past.
Beholdenness to “heroes” and “martyrs”.
Addiction to victim porn.
A self-righteous belief in the moral ascendancy of their “good” cause.
In other words, the Philippine Opposition under the Duterte administration have effectively turned themselves into a sad caricature of failed Western liberalism applied to the Philippine setting. If the snooty Jesuit-educated “thought leaders” of the Opposition would only take a break from the mutual high-fives they keep giving to one another and actually understand who and what they are dealing with with eyes and ears — and minds — wide open, perhaps they will start taking more practical steps towards organising themselves, and their thinking, into a more coherent force worthy of the term Political Opposition.
It’s simple, really.
Being ruled by someone who is an outsider to traditional politics certainly is uncomfortable to a political clique who have grown fat and rich ruling the country from Imperial Manila.
Duterte — the first such outsider in recent history — has set the Philippines on a course different to anything any other political camp has thus far ever proposed. The Opposition continues to provide no more than an annoying shrill girly whine about this different trajectory and how uncomfortable it makes them feel. Yet, they continue to propose no alternative.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.