If Opposition partisans, particularly the lot of them who worship Philippine “vice president” Leni Robredo, think that her recent “report” on the Philippine government’s “failed” drug war will deliver any outcomes favourbale to their cause, they are in for a surprise. Well, actually, one would think it would be unsurprising. Time and again, it has been proven that Robredo’s political stunts have been sorely ineffective at converting public sentiment. Indeed, her little public dramas have increasingly delivered the opposite, attracting more ridicule to her person and her party instead. Why has the Opposition become so ineffective at fulfilling their important role in a healthy democracy? More importantly, why do they keep hanging on to Robredo’s laylayan despite her being an absolute liability to their efforts?
There is a fundamental reason why the Opposition is languishing today and fails to offer a compelling alternative to the Duterte Way. Much of the damage to its political brand was sustained at its ideological foundation, specifically these three key pillars: (1) the idea that the “Martial Law Era” was all bad, (2) the idea that the Roman Catholic Church is all good, and (3) the idea that the 1986 “people power revolution” cures all. All statistical evidence points to the fact that all these doctrines no longer resonate with Filipino voters. Yet the Opposition led by the partisan bloc that encapsulates these three obsolete notions continues to use them as campaign collateral. It’s an absolute recipe for failure.
Worse, the Opposition does not feel anywhere near inclined towards coming up with new material. Rather than get back to the drawing board and craft a new ideology and develop a winning platform on top of that, they have, instead, lazily trod the easy path — taking potshots at anything and everything about the incumbent government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, joining demonisation campaigns against the latest “trending” whipping boy put forth by their chi chi “thought leaders”, and making hasty and sloppy conclusions based on flawed correlations and packaging these into schoolboy “economic insight”. In the several years since Duterte’s ascent to power, public sentiment reports issued by reputable research firms showed that these lame Opposition tactics were utterly ineffective at putting a dent on Duterte’s popularity.
Robredo is leading the Opposition to electoral oblivion. Her latest “report” is a direct attack on a cornerstone of Duterte’s popularity. Filipinos have overwhelmingly voted in support of this drive to rid the country of crime and drugs by any means. Even an eight-strong coalition of “freedom-loving” politicians campaigning on a platform hinged on lofty notions of “human rights” and “inclusiveness” suffered a catastrophic loss in the 2019 national elections. The Opposition need to see the pattern of failure here. In the case of the “Otso Diretso” coalition they not only foolishly painted the police as “evil” perpetrators of unwarranted “killings” in this popular drug war, they built their messaging upon those three failed ideological pillars mounting a campaign of abject Martial Law Crybabyism, virtue and piety signalling, and thinly-veiled Yellowtard branding.
Just like saying anything bad about Nadine Lustre is social suicide amongst the Philippines’ startruck showbiz afficionados, making crack (pardon the pun) about Duterte’s drug war will doom you to electoral decimation.
The lesson the Opposition need to learn is very simple. They need to ditch the Yellowtards and distance themselves from “vice president” Leni Robredo. Indeed, any Opposition politician dead serious about beating Duterte may even consider a counter-intuitive campaign — reopening the investigation on electoral fraud and taking the Liberal Party to task for the crime against democracy it perpetrated in 2016. Whatever the chosen strategic approach, a new generation of Opposition leaders and politicians need to prove to Filipino voters that they are not Yellowtards. Only then could they hope to win an election against Duterte and all the president’s men.
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