Duterte’s popularity continues to soar despite the best efforts of the Opposition to shoot him down

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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11 Comments on “Duterte’s popularity continues to soar despite the best efforts of the Opposition to shoot him down”

  1. Negative campaigning, or more specifically, identifying the problem, can be effective so long as it is accompanied with a proposed solution. The yellows can’t do an effective negative campaign because they are just as guilty when it comes to the issues they could bring up:
    – Corruption in projects and budgets flagged by the COA (Every administration is just as guilty).
    – Deaths of mayors and clergy (Political deaths are common during every administration).
    – Ineffective Marawi rebuilding (Ineffective Yolanda rebuilding).

    There are some issues they could raise:
    – Broken promises from Duterte (Manila traffic solved in 3-6 months, Crime free in 3-6 months, Breaking up the telecom duopoly by 2018, etc).
    – Using the MRT3 as a political leverage; Recent audit says the Dalian trains are compatible pending technical adjustments.
    – Further impoverishing the poor and middle class through TRAIN taxes.
    – Causing a weak peso and rising inflation through higher internal and trade deficits without developing a larger capital investment or export base.
    – Failure to deliver the proposed modernized PUVs in volume or on time.

    But the problem with that, is they’re likely on board with many of those issues. They may even be jealous that they weren’t able to come up with ways to increase taxes on the masses and come up with more spending to pluck from while staying popular. They have lost their credibility such that no one will listen to them when they try to raise these issues. The worst parts of the current administration can’t be discussed because the hypocrisy would be so obvious.

    There are also some things the current administration has done that are popular and show a better understanding of the motivations among the masses. For instance, the war on drugs is popular because drugs and drug-related crimes directly affect the sense of safety in poor neighborhoods. The previous administrations failed to acknowledge this, so they appear tone deaf to people.

    Really what’s needed is a political outsider with credibility. I’m not sure if any are in the pipeline. If one can be found, then what’s needed are solutions. Identify the problems, and say what needs to be done to fix them, and don’t get shot.

    For instance, traffic in Manila:
    – The problem of traffic has many causes. Roads and highways have been neglected for decades, illegal structures and parking obstruct lanes on major roadways, new projects falter from unnecessary red tape created by politicians and bureaucrats who want to steal money from funds.
    – We have created a task force at the national level supported by the AFP to solve traffic once and for all. We are going to continue all current projects and launch new ones based on the NEDA 2014 Dream Plan. LGUs who fail to enforce traffic laws in their area will face fines or jail time. The powers of the COA will be expanded, and all budgets submitted for these projects must be transparent and fully accounted for. Any bureaucrats or politicians who are found to be in violation of anti graft laws will be pursued with the harshest penalties the law allows. Project managers must submit weekly progress reports, and failure to deliver milestones without proper justification will result in termination from their positions. We can do this together, ushering in a new golden age for the Philippines.

    1. Which is why I support Federalism, on a state-level and with adequate allocation of resources, it’s going to be up to the local government to improve and solve his area. But there’s also a problem with this, a bloated national government can be taxing to the people and creates a larger bureaucracy, there’s also many Government Agencies that have a serious need for more qualified and competent people while the others need to be either disbanded or absorbed together, which is gonna be hard to get. And there’s the constant bills and laws that are passed on but there’s a lack of enforcement. You need a whole revision of Government and the people supporting it to fix it in a fundamental level to get progress while removing outdated and broken laws and red tape that are abused. It’s a huge undertaking that I’m seeing less enthusiasm and support from the average Filipino who works hard and long and doesn’t have time to care. The entire system is opposed by the same people who profit from the status quo and refuses Cha-Cha or Con-Ass, saw it during Erap’s and GMA’s time. And all we got was an unconstitutional pork barrel where the perpetrators were protected and a media machine that either misinforms, outright lies, and even obfuscate the truth, it’s all very tiresome.

    2. Adding to that, identifying the problem entails a few things for the sake of rigour: making sure the identified problem is framed by a proper root-cause analysis. Even if the problem identified for analysis is not the root cause, at least recognise that there are problems deeper than the one you choose to solve to ensure that your solutions are developed with the bigger picture as a context.

      If the Opposition bothers to craft a more coherent prospectus, it will be able to pitch across a more consistent platform ahead of the curve instead of the idiotic reactive way they deal with the incumbent administration — always playing catchup and responding piecemeal to “trending” issues and outrage fads.

  2. Duterte and his administration needs to focus on results and getting the job done, let the opposition screech. Now the current problem if you believe the recent Pulse Asia survey is that the average Juan and Maria is opposed to charter change and Federalism while 74% do not have sufficient knowledge of the 1987 constitution. The last surveys had the number vary from time to time, but this is just immense. Dep Ed should bring back Civics and studies for the constitution to the High School level, not just College. It boggles the mind because Filipinos just showed they have very short memories and why they voted for Duterte and his campaign for Federalism is a mystery. A two-year information campaign is needed so people can be better informed.

    1. The survey about federalism is expected. Most people reject what they don’t understand (yet). Coupled with inaccurate binary questioning and you get that kind of result. It’s also not surprising that there’s not much literacy and interest in civics, when emphasis has been focused on just making a living. We barely pay attention to a necessary foundation.

      1. Same thing with our decaying infrastructure and broken buildings, and over-bloated bureaucracy. Either the DepEd continues to let their Yellow Myth dogma of “It’s all Corruption’s fault!” fallacy instead of getting people interested in understanding how the Government works and join in the process making the elected officials accountable instead of falling for slogans about Anti-corruption or joining useless protests. The current administration needs to get an information drive about Federalism, the SONA for this month is the perfect avenue to inform people, it’s understandable that the average Filipino is too busy working on a living, but they need to join and care about this, this is Duterte’s promise of a long-term solution to the Philippine’s state, and they need to join the conversation.

  3. matthysse saved pacquiao’s legacy. he didn’t deliver that punch which send matthysse down 3 times, it was not a knock out punch.

    …. btw, will pacquiao pay his revenue arrears of more or less 4 billion pesos now? what’s in his mind about that?

  4. The SWS Pulse Asia survey , is an Aquino ” political tool of disinformation”. The Social Media, has already leveled the political playing field in our country. No politician can hide from the scrutiny of the public. No public relation firm can sell a politician thru disinformation. No amount of “political packaging”, can make a political candidate , look like is beyond reproach.

    The YerllowTard use of necropolitics, disinformation, blaming a dead former President, “Martial Law bogeyman”, etc..do not work anymore in this Age of Information Technology.

    They have to bring new faces, that are “not plastic” , we don’t like “plastic faces “like : Leni Robredo, Grace Poe, Porky Drilon, Mar Roxas, Bam Aquino, etc… these politicians, are not relevant anymore….The masks these politicians wear, when in campaign trails, can be easily seen by us, voters.

    We need a coherent campaign platform presented to us; like: a vision for the country, and your solutions to our country’s problems, in order for us , to listen to you. We don’t like negative campaigning…

    The YellowTards/Opposition need to update and upgrade ,their thinking , and their way of presenting themselves, to us, voters. Otherwise, they will lose again in the next election.

  5. what will happen with crimes committed under the 87 constitution? should it be void if federalism push through? If so, the yellows want it to be federal form of government.

  6. Manny Pacquiao can still fight in a very high level fight but it seems that he lost some steps compared when he was at his prime. Maybe he can still have two to three fights but he needs to be more careful and smarter. He will be 40 on December and when a fighter gets older, health is the biggest issue. We all know that at 40 boxer is already on the decline stage. He has nothing to prove because he was already a legend and he was once the face of the boxing. After a couple of fights maybe retirement is the best course of action.

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