The Philippine Opposition will not succeed against Duterte unless they change strategy

Same ol’ same ol’. The Opposition expect different results whilst doing the same tiresome thing.
(Photo source: Gulf News)

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.

20 Replies to “The Philippine Opposition will not succeed against Duterte unless they change strategy”

  1. Who cannot forget the tremendous: graft, corruption, incompetence, plunders, murders, massacres, drug proliferation, etc…that were done by the Opposition, during their term.

    These are the same people, who are crying today for: human rights, killings, morality, social justice, etc…

    Did they observed/do these things, they are fighting for, when they were in power ?

    The opposition cannot understand, the effect of Social Media on people. Advances in Information Technology have made political propaganda in TV networks obsolete. Besides, this new generation of Filipinos are the most informed in any generation. Hiring Blog Trolls, to mislead Blog readers, does not work. It is easy to spot and smell a blog troll. Besides, people have minds of their own…

    Give us the alternative program, that can solve the country’s problems. And we may look at them, and we will have a thorough thinking, if they are possible and feasible.

    Otherwise, your “Politics on the Streets”, shouting slogans, demonizing Duterte, and your opponents are already obsolete political tactics. They no longer work, in this Age of Information Technology.

    We know that the Opposition, Cheated in the 2016 HOCUS PCOS and SMARTMAGIC election. the Opposition has to explain this , to us. Why you cheated !

  2. whatever you say, we say, they say, pilipinos will never believed the yellows ‘cuz we have seen the peaceful and prosperity during the marcos times through the devastating yellows lies, corrupt, drugs proliferations, and plunder of the nations gold bars. when will we see trillanes back to jail? when will we see stolen money through dap return to the people? and when will we see the yellows coach joining his paid rallyist leading to oust duterte in the streets of manila? pretty soon eh!

  3. Dear GRP,
    for some time now, I notice that you (GRP) keep shooting (metaforical) bullets into the Philippine opposition (aka the Philippine Liberal Party). But I actually do not understand why. You (GRP) paint them (the PH opposition) black with lack of agenda and platform. To me, it seems you are scared shitless for them because you (GRP) keep writing about the opposition. Its like writing about a basketball club not being able to win the national championships. We know that by now. Why not focus on the current president and what he does so good and what he does not do so good (in a very objective way of course).

    I do agree with you that the Philippine Liberal Party has a sub-standard (below zero) idea of how to run the country. I am sure they are not the brightest people among the Philippine population. But Duterte is also not the brightest. So they share some common ground. But now Duterte is president and we all have to deal with that, whether we like it or not. Duterte has been elected, not by the majority and only thanks to the political voting system. The fact that somebody can be voted as vice-president not being member of the same party as the president is another fault in the system. And again we have to deal with that too, whether we like it or not.

    Maybe its about time, to change the – voting – sytem. And while we are at it, change the constitution and a couple of 100 laws. All in favour to make the Philippines a part of the 1st world.
    But I honestly feel, sense and think that a lot of people dont want that that the Philippines may one day be a memeber of the 1st world.

    1. Robert,

      We want it. A large of number of us simply don’t want to work for it. They want it handed to them like free candy. What annoys me is that people who make legitimate constructive arguments on what needs to change are constantly trolled, downvoted, abused or even smart shamed. For example, a suggestion as simple as starting a Local Rehab Centre can make you an open target for name-calling or anti-Duterte.

      The other worrying thing is that GRP and Reddit Philippines are becoming respective echo chambers of pro and anti-administration cohorts. A month ago, I got downvoted and was even called a Dutertard for applauding the signing of the ten year passport law. What ever happened to civil discourse and challenging each other’s ideas constructively?

      1. Interxavier,
        you know what? When somebody is giving me something for free, I always think: “where/what is the catch?”. Getting stuff for free means that the stuff is of shit quality. Or have you seen somebody be given a Porsche for free?

        1. Robert,

          Personal accountability is rarely ever admitted to when things go wrong. The first things you hear are: “it’s the government’s fault”, “we have too many corrupt officials”, etc. It is never the people’s fault but the government’s. I’ve always frowned at the idea of relying on the government to provide for everything. With our population now standing above a hundred million, I’ve begun to see this political system become less effective in executing the ‘changes’ they constantly promise to the masses every six years. How can a central government effectively govern 100+ million people and expect to meet these people’s needs? It can’t.

          Instead of asking “What can the government do?”, the people should ask “what can we do?”.

  4. If there was a viable enforcement that won’t involve some form of violence, then somebody would’ve come up with it by now. Cartels, narcopoliticians, and pushers are more likely to fight to death for the business. They’re taunting the gov’t and the public with the killing of the young. 30 stabs on one of them? It’s a message meant to terrorize. Even the shipment of drugs through the Customs was meant to taunt us- that they have power over gov’t through insiders they control. Heck, maybe the Senate clown show is even their idea. The Opposition’s implicit solution is to either stop the fight against drugs, or take a kid glove approach. Where would that take us in a few years? We’re just starting to see the effects of being a narcostate.

    1. @Interxavier: >> A large of number of us simply don’t want to work for it. They want it handed to them like free candy.

      In other words, they really don’t want it THAT badly. More precisely, they want to sit around whining MORE THAN they want to have a decent, prosperous society.

      I’m not sure how you change the order of people’s priorities. Normally pain is a good motivator, but Filipinos seem to be extraordinarily immune to the suffering that their own behavior brings: as Duterte seems to realize, nothing short of the threat of immediate, violent death will get a Filipino to throw his trash in the litter bin, stop annoying his neighbors, or get a job. And even that mostly doesn’t work.

      I agree that GRP has become a bit of an echo chamber, and it’s losing readership because of that. Articles used to attract hundreds of comments. Most of them now get less than ten, because nobody’s really interested in which Filipino politician is worse than this other Filipino politician. Debating whether it’s better to have X in power rather than Y is like debating whether it’s better to have syphilis or gonorrhea.

      At least ChinoF, FallenAngel, Zaxx, etc are trying to focus on issues rather than people, but they’re not writing much these days.

  5. Choices are funny things – ask local people who’s eaten grubs and roots forever if they’re unhappy, and they’ll shrug. But give them filet mignon and truffle sauce and then ask them to go back to living off the land, and they will always be thinking of that gourmet meal. If you don’t know there’s an alternative, you can’t miss it.

  6. trillanes accusations at the senate is the same pattern thrown to marcos full of lies and fabricated stories. it is now the beginning of the end of the yellow kingdom.

  7. The Yellow Cult (Opposition) is a political movement built on the foundation of corpses. After a year of Duterte’s war on drugs, most Filipinos now accept EJKs as normal. People are less emotionally charged when they see a dead body flashed in the news. This is where the Opposition needs to rethink their strategy. They want power back. They want decency back. But narcopolitical campaigns don’t work anymore. Filipinos have grown tired of Yellow heroes and martyrs. Yes, stop the killings, but then what? Put Leni on the driver’s seat? What is Leni’s vision for the Philippines? Likely to set up a monument and rename a highway in honor of her late hero husband. Yeah, that would be real progress alright (at least for her dynasty).

  8. “Why not focus on the current president and what he does so good and what he does not do so good (in a very objective way of course).”

    I was kinda thinking of the same thing myself. Considering that we now have a new administration, with President Duterte as its leader who calls the shots of how things should be, GRP writers still prefer to write more about the political-historical irrelevance of the opposition party more than the supposedly socio-economic relevant aspects of the party in power.

  9. Interxavier,
    governments must and can do more. If they let the population get out of hand (in total numbers), it will end in a possible civil war. Ergo: they (a government) must tell the people what is efficient for them to do and what not (regardless of gender, sexuality, religion and what not). That is called to govern.
    Like with refugees. There are political refugees (like the Syrians coming to Europe), there are economical refugees (like Africans coming to Europe. But the next group of refugees are climate refugees. This latter group will be by far the biggest group that will migrate.
    Every country is bound and limited to its surface area. It can only hold so many individuals. So an explosion in population is to nobody’s gain and nobody’s benefit. So the government has to step in to regulate that as well.

  10. >> Every country is bound and limited to its surface area. It can only hold so many individuals.

    It is explicit Government policy to solve that one by sending excess Filipinos abroad to work as slaves. I was reading an article in the newspaper the other day (written by some halfwitted official) explaining why the government should not introduce population controls, or alter this policy in any way.

    After all, it’s a win-win situation for the oligarchs: all the smart people get sent out of the country, thus reducing the chance of civil war/revolt, and the government gets a flood of foreign currency coming back.

    1. Robert,

      Sorry for the late reply. I believe the government should have a role but I also think it can only do so much to influence the changes unless you are considering to violate people’s human rights. For the sake of this discussion, let’s keep this at population control. The widely accepted replacement rate is 2 births per woman, which most European countries currently struggle to meet. We are currently sitting at 3 births per woman and while this rate has dropped significantly since the 60s, it’s still very high. At my work place, most people have 3-4 children despite having a net income that can provide for only 1 child if we factor in a standard of living comparable to Singapore. The government, barring any potential 1-2 child policy rule, can set the policies but it’s still up to the populace to live their lives accordingly. This all comes down to culture. People on the other side love to argue that starting a family is an essential part of life. Really? At what cost? Start a family that you can’t afford and bring in more children to a world where the future is already bleak? From my perspective, starting a family for the sake of doing so is irresponsible and potentially dangerous. I’ve lost count of the number times I’ve argued with people from outside the developed world about this issue. People from these countries, including ours, think life has a script. It doesn’t.

      You’ve been here long enough to deduce that Anglo-Saxon values of hard work, discipline, and frugality are not well-adapted here. Introversion and critical thinking are still frowned upon by the average Filipino. This has to change. There are Filipinos, like myself, who want to adapt these values but the majority is making life difficult for us to push through. Instead, the signs point clearly to LEAVE which is exacerbated by those in power who wants to run unopposed. Population is one of our big problems but complacency is our true enemy.

      1. Interxavier,
        Except for what China HAD (the one-child-policy), I dont know any country who sets a limit on the number of kids a couple is allowed to get. I also do think, its hard to enforce. What to do with a couple that is divorced. Can one of them still procreate when the 2 kids born out of that relationshiop is in custody ith the other?

        What a government, any government should and must do, is address the population how harmfull it is to make more than X kids. This can be done easily by giving (financial) figures (PHP 100 (total monthly income) divided by number of individuals in a family/an household).
        Furthermore, the more individuals in a family, the more/higher demand for education, food, clothes, electricity, public transport, higher CO2 emissions, etc etc etc. So whether rich or poor: less is more.

        Yes I have been here (the Philippines) long enough. I can tell you stories about women already having kids (boys) and still obsessively want a daughter. Even when they passed the age of 35. Not only her age is a dangerous age but also the age-gap between the future “new” daughter and the already existing sons is immense and extreme. And the odds, that the next new born will indeed be a daughter is 50-50. So what if the new born kid will be yet another son/boy?

        I am really shocked how little those women know about their own body and their age. As if they dont care at all.

  11. Robert,

    The ironic thing is that information is now easily more accessible yet people are still uninformed. Worse, some are informed but choose to turn a blind eye and follow their religious ‘faith’ instead. It comes down to individual decision-making, which have been mostly poor so far given the results. External factors such as societal expectations, religious beliefs, and family traditions can easily sway the personal decisions an individual Filipino should make for himself. One of the things they falsely taught during my school days is that “no man is an island”. From the get-go, people are indoctrinated to believe that living a solitary life or with less people is a big no-no. It’s easy to see the adverse effects later on. Cheesy romantic comedies dominate the domestic film industry. Teledramas are about the same thing over and over; romance and family. Millennials take it upon themselves to place their love lives as the number one priority in their lives without taking into consideration other factors. There is hardly any leeway to encourage critical thinking into the culture.

    The three things I’ve learned that made me see the world clearly:

    1. Individualism > Collectivism
    2. Minimalism
    3. Marriage is Just a Piece of Paper

    1. Interxavier,
      It all sounds familiar to me what you write about. Except for the teledramas. When I am in PH, i hardly watch any TV..
      “No man is an island” => in my country a lot of (young) people live alone bec they set the bar high for finding and getting Mr. & Mrs. Right. They rather live alone then having and being in a rotten, lousy relationship. And bec we can look after and take care of ourselves, its quite easy (having a job, having friends and having hobbies).
      Recently, I spoke a pinay and told her about my country’s law (divorce), so she said – jokingly – lets get married here in PH (no divorce). I rebuked with: “I can always pack my bags and leave (you)”. She gave me staring eyes as if she wanted to say: “you cant do that”. So yes, indeed, marriage is just a piece of paper.

      Allow me to add a few things to your list:
      Holism vs Reductionism
      High context culture vs low context culture

      1. Here’s some more:

        Political Correctness vs A Spade is A Spade
        Multiculturalism vs Assimilation
        Victimhood vs Self-Empowerment
        Diversity of Race vs Diversity of Thought
        Natural Talent vs Hard Work
        Blue Pill vs Red Pill

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