Back to business as usual after Elections 2019. Like the end of the Christmas season, it is a letdown to realise that all the festivities have come to an end. The question, is are all the “issues” brought to the fore over more than a year of election fever which ended this month relevant when one reverts back to day-to-day life?
Look back and realise that there were no topics relevant to ordinary Filipinos that made headline fodder in recent memory. The fact is, stuff still needs to be built, crooks still need to be caught, and people still need to get to work. These are the vital few things important to ordinary people. “Human rights”, “freedom”, “gender equality”, “gay rights”, and the “challenges” of a “post truth” world order? Di nakakain yan. These are things Western liberals and their latte-sipping wannabe snowflakes in the Third World can pontificate about and use as excuses to give awards to one another in their little soirées.
The advantage of the incumbent is that they are in the business of doing the important stuff and are seen by the public to be doing so. On top of that, the the election promises of the current administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte are consistent with this. The Opposition, for their part, after having focused practically their entire campaign on demonising Duterte are left with nothing to contribute to a productive public conversation. They mounted a campaign of irrelevant topics which, as is evident today, in turn, crushed any semblance of relevance in the post 2019 election public chatter when everyone need to get back to their day jobs.
What is tragic about today’s Opposition is that there is more than ample opportunity to step up to an intelligent critical dialogue with the Duterte government. Beyond the empty emotionalism kicked up around nebulous topics like all that liberal stuff, national “sovereignty” in the face of the Chinese play for regional domination, those “rape jokes”, and even the president’s health are the things that actually impact oridinary Filipinos’ lives for real.
With experienced and formally-trained administrators, not to mention a former police chief in the Senate, the right priorities for a truly progressive legislative agenda could be pushed. In line with the stuff important to the broader public — infrastructure and services, law and order, and employment-generating economic activity — one would think it is easy to see that even critics of the administration have little choice but to work with the government to push for what is in the interests of the nation and focus less on mere partisan interests.
The cycle of mud-slinging election campaigns followed by passive-agressive “opposition” in between elections needs to be broken. The irony is that while the Philippine electorate had, in the last few years, matured into a more sober and critical community, the Opposition had, for its part, degenerated into an unintelligent, whiney, and adolescent political force. Hopefully this year’s election serves as a good spanking for these shills and, following their decisive rout in these elections, see their old guard of discredited “thought leaders” stepping back to allow new thinkers with fresh perspectives to find their voice.
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