Today, the Philippine President will be delivering his much-awaited State of the Nation Address (SONA) before joint sessions of Philippine Congress. Perhaps, as most Filipino “activists” point out, all this will be “just words”. Everyone from the most pedestrian of Filipino observers to the most be-credentialled “thought leaders” of the land will have an opinion around what the true “state of the nation” really is. The chatter surrounding the pomp and circumstance of this quaint ritual will then be mainly around comparing one or the other’s perception of “reality” to what Duterte says in this speech.
One of the key topics standing out over the din of speculative chatter is talk that Duterte might push for several initiatives the Philippine Opposition led by the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtards) deem “dictatorial”. Indeed, the Yellowtards deem practically every pathway to the future Duterte precscribes as roadmaps to “authoritarianism”. What is interesting is that there is, in fact, a lack of any evidence of an authoritarian hand at work thus far in Philippine society. “Activists” continue to engage in their often disruptive and non-constructive “opposition” to the current government. News media organisations remain at full liberty to report their heavily-editorialised “news”, and social media chatter has never been as dynamic — even rambunctious — as it is today.
Whatever the Yellowtards are whining about does not seem to be supported by reality. And so it is with irony that they watch Duterte’s third SONA with what they regard as their “critical” minds and presume to match Duterte’s words with their own versions of “reality”. What they fail to realise is that their own words manifest in their obsolete slogans, their Cold War-era soundbytes, and their 1980s-era narrative of “oppression”, “martyrdom”, and necropolitics all do not match the facts of the Philippine state of the nation.
What remains the same (or has grown more acute, for that matter), is the Yellowtards’ evidently inbred political rhetoric. It is no surprise that their lame approach to “opposition” had failed to evolve because they had, yet again, chosen the easy path of cosying up to one another rather than embrace the broader Filipino community out of which a vast diversity of voices emanate. This laziness has severely weakened the Opposition’s ability to deliver an effective and intelligent opposition to the Duterte administration. The evidence of this failure can be seen not only in the clearly obsolete platitudes they parrot but in the numbers published by independent survey firms that clearly point to the continued popularity of Duterte.
Whereas Duterte offers a different pathway to his people, the Yellowtards and the Opposition they “lead” offer nothing new. A society that is hungry for real change that is fed the same thing will, of course, turn to people who offer alternatives.
Even now, the Yellowtards are deploying their usual blunt weapons to take advantage of the media coverage Duterte’s SONA will be attracting — the same ol’ ocho-ocho street rallies, the same commie-infestation that has, to be fair, become more dominant and had effectively replaced the discredited yellow colour of their “activism”, and the same fear-mongering around the “evil” dictatorial bogeyman of yore. Indeed, the symbolism they will use to highlight the latter will be the biggest non-surprise of the activist circus that will be erupting today — the same old effigy of Duterte in its trite thematic glory that is a product of stunted “activist” imagination: the all-too-familiar likening to the Devil himself in the same ol’ lame attempt to paint the Opposition “fight” as good-versus-evil crusade. Zzzzzzz….
What will the Opposition come up with today? It will, of course, be “news” thanks to the equally unimaginative news editors of the Philippines’ Big Corporate Media monopolies. But in much the same way having pancit for dinner everyday may seem like a good idea at first, it is likely that the Opposition spectacle will come across as the intellectual junk food it has long been reduced to. You’d think the Yellowtards would be reserving their best and most well-thought-out song-and-dance for this day. Unfortunately their show will likely fall flat on its flat face under the weight of their own intellectual bankruptcy.
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