Whether it is the SWS or Pulse survey Filipino observers choose to believe (or not believe), the numbers show that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains immune to the din of shrill sophomoric “criticism” he receives from the Philippine Opposition. This is not surprising seeing the amateurish manner with which this Opposition led by the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtards) continue to apply an obsolete style of opposing Duterte. To this day they still use the tired 1980s-vintage narrative populated by prayerful “martyrs”, a nebulous “fight” of some sort, and the legacy of an “authoritarian” bogeyman who allegedly impoverished the Philippines over an era spanning two decades that they call the “Martial Law years” as fodder for their lame opposition.
One need look no further than the current brouhaha over the recent win of boxing-champ-turned-senator Manny Pacquiao. To the addled minds of the Yellowtards, Pacquiao’s victory and the rousing applause he has attracted from his enormous Filipino fan base pretty much assures the Champ’s continued success in Philippine politics. This is because the Philippines is a democracy. In a democracy — especially its Philippine flavour — popularity trumps all other criteria for success hands down. Yet, despite the fact that Filipinos had signed up to this reality, the Yellowtards continue to throw monumental tantrums over positions taken by personalities that they do not like. They fail to recognise that, in the Philippines’ democracy, power does not necessarily go to people who the Yellowtards happen to like.
To the confused mind of a Yellowtard, Pacquiao is both a boxer and a Philippine Senator. They cannot seem to reconcile Pacquiao the Boxer who pulls in millions of spectators to his riveting bouts and Pacquiao the Senator who has won the right to speak his mind before a chamber of his peers. Rather than see Pacquiao as a challenge to step up to and compete against, Yellowtard thought leaders opt for the easy path and simply whine.
What the Yellowtards fail to recognise is that democracy is a competitive environment. “Righteousness” (as they presume to define it) is not entitled to success in a democracy. Only popularity wins. Therefore, the game here is to do what it takes to be popular. Pacquiao is one such textbook case of what it takes to win in a democracy.
The foundation of a strategy to win against the Pacquiaos of Philippine politics whilst remaining consistent to one’s principles (if a party sees the latter as important enough) is to make one’s product appeal to popular sentiment. If, for example, the Yellowtards would like to package “human rights”, “gender equality”, prayerfulness, “freedom”, and “decency” (as they define it) into a campaign platform upon which its candidates could win an election, then they need to make that package appeal to the popular sentiment in a way that could translate directly to votes. On top of that, they will also need a party or coalition leader who possesses the skills and statesmanship to successfully sell that package to the Filipino voter.
Unfortunately for the Opposition, the election winning strategy of the Yellowtards stands on only one leg — negative campaigning. Whilst negative campaigning proved to be effective against the late former President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1980s and, later, in the equally illegal ouster of President Joseph “Erap” Estrada at the turn of the century, it is evidently ineffective today. Yet the Yellowtard-led Opposition continue to stubbornly stick to this obsolete approach to regaining power. Worse, they are using the same obsolete Yellow narrative to underpin this approach. Using obsolete methods to win against a rapidly-evolving enemy is a sure path to Loserville. We can see how comfy the Yellowtards are in this town they’ve made their home — in their choice of “leaders” (at the moment, the prayerful “vice president” Leni Robredo), in the slogans they use in their rallies, their continued virtue signalling using Western philosophies alien to most Filipino voters as input, and in their alliance with a woefully-discredited Roman Catholic clergy.
Whilst the Yellowtards pour enormous amounts of energy and resources into negative campaigning, there is hardly any political capital invested in positive campaigning. The Opposition has yet to present a coherent vision for the Philippines that could serve as a powerful alternative to the popular Duterte Way. Although their old narrative once formed the backbone of a positive campaign that served them well over three decades, it no longer proves to be effective and, therefore, needs to be replaced. The Yellowtards have so far shown a disturbing lack of imagination to do just that. They prefer, instead, the lazy option of continuing to flog their long-dead workhorse. This laziness in thinking and bankruptcy of imagination has cost the broader Opposition dearly. The fact is, the solution to address the continued loss of the Opposition in their campaign against Duterte is obvious: they need to ditch the Yellowtards.
Rather than quibble on the details surrounding the methods used by Pulse, SWS, or any other “survey” firm, the Opposition should, instead, shape up for real battle. That battle is just around the corner. And, by the looks of it, it will be a battle they will likely lose.
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