Despite all efforts — mostly dirty and dishonest — on the part of the Philippines’ Opposition partisans to gain traction with the broader Filipino voting public, the bid for control of Congress in this year’s election has evidently been won by candidates either (1) backed by the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte or (2) running independent of the leading Opposition coalition. The measurable results so far are an indictment of what has become the traditional stereotypical “opposition” to the “forces of tyranny”, the latter notion a relic of early- to mid-1980s political rhetoric that has slid to irrevocable irrelevance.
This traditional opposition — styled as the prayerful and “decent” members of “civil society” led by a bloc of partisans closely-allied with the Philippines’ wealthy Aquino and Cojuangco feudal clans — continues to desperately claw on long-depleted political capital. They had gone to the extent of a pathetic effort at re-branding — distancing themselves from 1980s-era symbollic artefacts that once lent character to a powerful dynastic narrative, the yellow colour, the “L” hand gesture, and the Laban call-to-action — after belatedly recognising the negative effect these were having on their campaign.
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Unfortunately for the Opposition, the stain of the Yellow brand is proving difficult to scrub off the new colour themes they try to pitch themselves with. But that’s just the cosmetic dysfunction of their campaign. Looking deeper into the core of what they stand for is a persistent rot in the thinking, attitude, and beliefs they apply to their “cause”.
(1) Opposition partisans continue to draw credibility from the Roman Catholic Church.
Aside from the fact that the foremost “thought leaders” and “influencers” of the Opposition are alumni of chi chi Catholic private schools, the broader Opposition cliques continue to style themselves as pious disentes who presume to judge all the rest. This is working against them. Rather than convert swing voters to their camp, they are further alienating them and motivating those who differ to their views to dig themselves deeper into the trenches. An example is the recent circus surrounding top celebrity Yellowtard Jim Paredes. In a lame apology he issued following the breaking of a scandal that seriously damaged the Opposition campaign, Paredes dropped references to deferring to “prayer” and hinting that agents associated with opposing partisan camps (often referred to as “evil” forces) had a hand in his recent woes.
(2) Opposition partisans feel entitled to control over public discourse.
The same lack of personal accountability can also be seen in the manner with which Opposition partisans screech about what they perceive to be a degeneration in online and social media discourse. They throw tantrums over what they describe as a “troll” invasion of online spaces they presume to own. True to form, as in much of the way they stake claim over virtue and birthright, they prefer to assert moral ascendancy in their claim to political territory rather than compete for domination.
The Yellowtard-led Opposition contradict themselves by selectively celebrating or demonising the outcomes of democratic processes. In reality, democracy makes no distinction between what is good or “evil”. This is the Yellowtard Constitution that all Filipinos had signed up to in 1987 at work. In a democracy it is all about what the popular vote decides. In short, Popularity — not Jesus Christ — is King in a democracy. Birthright, blessings from popes and bishops, and need don’t necessarily determine who wins in a democracy. More importantly, who holds power is determined by who wins an election. No choir of angels will come down from the heavens and, in a flurry of flapping little wings, lift their anointed candidate from the streets and gently set him down on a Senate seat. It seems, many Yellowtard “thought leaders” have not received that memo.
(3) Opposition partisans are spoilt brats wont to throwing childish tantrums.
Because of those two underlying rots in their philosophical underpinnings, Opposition partisans don’t get their way most of the time nowadays. They have found that their prayerful personas are no longer effective and their incessant pontificating about “fake news”, “troll invasions”, and the governance over content owed to them by Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey all but regarded with mere bemusement. It is no wonder that the Yellowtard-led Opposition are failing in the 21st Century’s hyper-competitive environment where the most clever of agents become more and more adept at weaponising technology platforms.
Indeed, the Yellowtards talk as if “weaponising” is a bad thing. The truth is, all camps have equal access to the tools and means to “weaponise” most publicly-accessible online platforms today. So it is not as if the Yellowtards are victims of any inherent unfairness in the system. Whether it be domination of social media spaces or the minds of Filipino voters, it is the skill with which one competes for those trophies that sets apart the winners from the whiners. Politics had been democratised in 1987. And, now, mass media too had been democratised thanks to 21st Century technology. In both cases, the landscape demands that agents compete for the prizes they seek. This is a lesson that the Yellowtards seem to have failed to learn.
The outcome of that failure to learn and evolve are evident today in the way the Opposition are failing to win Filipino voters to their side. They have squandered a trove of political capital they amassed in the 1980s and are know wasting precious time they could have used to build new capital. Instead of recognising what it takes to compete they stubbornly cling on to what worked in the past.
These are not the sorts of people Filipinos need to lead and represent them in government. The Yellowtards, in short, deserve to lose in this year’s elections.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.