Filipinos continue to be shortchanged by their political Opposition. They offer neither genuine nor substantial opposition to the incumbent administration of President Rodrigo Duterte. All they contribute to the discourse is noise. They provide no alternative path forward and seek to keep Filipinos fixated on an irrelevant past.
It is easy of course to claim “unity”. Street rallies after all don’t require much agreement across the various factions and groups that all seek to seize political power. You just need to show up.
Indeed, they do show up by the busloads. Each group wear their colours and wave their own flags. So much for a “united front” right? How can one believe there is “unity” in the Opposition when, by their own design, they show such colourful fragmentation?
For that matter, is “unity” in an Opposition even good at all? The reason the various branded cliques of the Opposition keep screeching about “unity” is because there really is nothing in common amongst these groups beyond a shared hatred for Duterte and a traditional taste for illegal change in leadership (which most of them refer to as “revolution”). Other than those nebulous doctrines, they offer nothing else to the Filipino people other than chronic instability and fodder for click- and eyeball-hungry Big Corporate Media.
Filipinos deserve better than this Jeepney Opposition. It upholds a tradition of the pwede na yan thinking that is at the core of the Philippines’ intellectual bankruptcy. It’s time the traditional personalities that crown themselves “thought leaders” of this Opposition be called out and challenged head on — taken to task for the drivel they pollute the national “debate” with. It’s time Filipinos take back their Opposition.
How can this be done?
It begins by dousing the shillery in the discourse by tempering the emotionalism and engaging intelligently. Regain the courage to dive into Twitter threads, Facebook comment exchanges, and blog commenting facilities to speak your mind. Engage with original commentary and not just by parroting party and ideological cliches. Rather than merely forward and spread information, enrich it with your own thoughts before passing it on. In this way, ideas move forward rather than decay into dysfunctional party ideologies and narratives doomed to be rehashed election in and election out, rally in and rally out.
The Opposition is not something that should be monopolised by a single party or, worse, a single feudal clan. It should be a community that upholds an inclusive approach to maintaining intelligent and insightful discussion. Only in a diverse conversation of many voices will real solutions and pathways forward emerge.
Today, it is quite disturbing to observe an Opposition held hostage by only two groups — the Yellowtards and the communists. Disturbing because both are groups spruiking obsolete — no, dead — ideologies. Backing them is an equally-confused Roman Catholic Church which can’t seem to decide whether to focus on providing spiritual guidance to Filipinos, engage in political patronage, or coddling communists who would just as soon burn down churches once they succeed in violently establishing their “dictatorship of the proletariat”.
All of these groups are anchored in the past, not in the future. Filipinos desperately need thought leadership adept at navigating the future and clever enough to evolve with the times. Sadly, an Opposition led by groups imprisoned by dogma will only keep Philippine society and its politics stuck in a nightmarish soup of stagnation, dysfunction, and primitivism. This is where the Philippines is at the moment. Only Filipinos can change their future — by taking accountability for this future back and embracing an Opposition (and an entire poltical discourse) premised squarely on that sense of personal accountability.
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