The much-awaited State of the Nation Address (SONA) had come and gone and all the Opposition have to show for is a set of failed supposedly orchestrated street protests rallies. It seems the concept of “opposition” to today’s Opposition partisans does not go beyond the old mold of overused “activist” clichés that are thick on spectacle but very thin on intellectual substance. To “take a stand” is, to be fair, to make a statement. In the case of the Opposition, said statement is supposed to be in, well, opposition to whatever position the incumbent takes on an issue. Yet despite the circus that Opposition camps organised to mark the occasion of this year’s SONA on Monday, it still can’t be said that the Opposition have made themselves clear on what they really stand for.
Most of the messages expressed and symbolised in the various shows put on by “activists” in their corners of Manila’s streets didn’t reveal much of a vision for the Philippines as a nation. In short, to the important question of what they’d do differently if their lot were in power today instead of Duterte, they come out sorely lacking.
Take, for example, the two main partisan blocs that dominate the Opposition — the communists and the Yellowtards (the latter being the clique of partisans rabidly loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan). The earlier, the commies, propose nothing short of total destruction of the Philippine government. For these crooks, neither government or system of governance nor national charter legitmately frames their political aspirations. They would just as soon reduce the national government and Filipinos’ entire democratic way of life to rubble and then, upon this, build their criminal “dictatorship of the proletariat”. For the communists, every life is expendable in the “revolution” they will wage until they achieve this end.
Indeed the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) makes no secret of its drive to recruit Filipinos into their terrorist arm, the New People’s Army (NPA) and offer no sign of considering legal pathways to achieving their ends beyond “armed revolution” that aims to “overthrow” any legitimately-elected Philippine President as this tweet shows.
At their best, the communists quite simply bore us with their Cold War era rhetoric and stuck-in-time slogans and mantras. Their cause is in bad need of modernisation.
Less deadly and by no means as murderous as communist terrorists, on the other hand, are the “woke” Yellowtards. It is interesting that this partisan bloc align themselves with the commies because it was from within this clique of private-school-educated village kids that the 1987 Constitution was forged. This is the very same Constitution that frames the legitimacy of the incumbent government that the Opposition as a whole seek to topple extra-constitutionally. Ironic, right?
What do the Yellowtards have on offer if they manage to regain power in the Philippines? Why nothing else but the same narrative of holy “heroes” and “martyrs” and their unique brand of necropolitics they used to emotionally-blackmail Filipinos into submission for 30 years since the “people power revolution” that they engineered in 1986.
Like the commies, the Yellowtards would have us believe that there continues to be a “fight” (their rallying cry is Laban! symbolised by the “L” shared hand gesture) that needs to be fought. This fight will be fought by people gathering en masse on Manila’s streets shouting “oust (insert name of ‘evil’ president here)” continuing a political franchise the precedent of which was set back in 1986. Their weapon is a naive but highly potent sense of self-righteousness made even more potent by the notion that the God of the Philippines’ state religion is on their side.
The droning “revolutionary” chants of the communists together with the shrill media-amplified “Laban” rhetoric of the Yellowtards leaves very little space for intelligent debate to compete for air time. This reality was made glaringly evident again this week both in the lead up to and in the aftermath of Duterte’s delivery of this SONA before joint sessions of the Senate and House of Representatives.
The eminent activist writer Katrina Stuart-Santiago in a lament published just a week or two before the 2020 SONA was delivered captures both the essential dysfunction and the core of the challenge the Opposition need to step up to in this snippet from her blog post “Notes on: What next? #Covid19 #TerrorLaw #Protest”…
The narrative we’re following is still that of this government’s. We’re still all just reacting to all that it does, given the nation it is building. But what if we start refusing to be part of that narrative? What if instead of simply being reactionary, we start proactively talking about the nation we would like to fashion? What if we build an alternative narrative of nation for ourselves? Maybe if we refuse government’s control over our headspace and our emotional lives, we can actually start thinking better about ways to do protest.
Indeed. You need intelligence and imagination to think outside of what is framed by the powerful, build a better narrative, and find better ways to do protest. Intelligence and imagination are evidently characteristics today’s Opposition and would-be “revolutionaries” are sorely lacking seeing the mediocre collateral they being to their “activism” and to their politics. Filipinos deserve a better more modern Opposition than this.
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