A “united opposition” is nice in theory but almost an impossibility in practice. What today’s Philippine Opposition are up against is the camp of an incumbent, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who remains enormously popular. This is in contrast to former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III whose personal “Aquino” brand and his party’s “yellow” narrative were but pale shadows of their former glory by the time the campaign for the 2016 elections began. Back then, even a divided Opposition — had Duterte not even run for president — would have made minced meat of his party.
The Opposition today think they could do a repeat of the campaign that crushed the Yellowtard brand and paved the way for change — a campaign that sustained a constant bombardment of the Aquino administration, and his Yellowtard minions, and their entire belief system day and night, seven days a week. Despite having one of the mightiest communications team of any Philippine government at his disposal — one that included the Noted One himself, the eminent Manuel L Quezon III — the Aquino administration withered under the relentless shelling. Despite being backed by no less than the Roman Catholic Church and its vassal network of exclusive private schools and their chi chi alumni “thought leaders”, the camp was no match for a loose informal community of newspaper columnists and bloggers who poked hooks into gaping cracks in the veneer of “decency” that was the Yellowtards’ campaign costume, twisted these in, and then pulled out stinking evidence of their inner rot.
It is evident that the Opposition are attempting the same strategy today — sustaining a demonisation campaign against Duterte, kicking up outrage fads over the most trivial birthday dinners, making every misfortune to befall the Philippines out to be his government’s fault, and spinning false correlations between economic trends and his administration. None of these lame copycat tactics have worked. Duterte’s popularity persists and his political capital is as formidable as it had been in 2016. Barring a catastrophe that could be convincingly linked to a major indiscretion or dereliction of duty on the part of the Duterte government, the Opposition need to re-think their approach if they are to put up a good fight in the lead up to the 2022 elections. Indeed, the Opposition style has long been revealed for what it truly is — one that is basically a five-year long prayer for a major national disaster that would sink the Duterte administration. Well they did get their prayers answered in 2020. But the disaster the Opposition prayed for that was COVID-19 did not deliver the blow to Duterte’s popularity they were hoping it would.
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As such, it is high time the Opposition drop the Hate Duterte rhetoric. That’s easier said than done. At the moment, social media is saturated with pompous and self-righteous “thought leaders”, “influencers”, and celebrities scrambling to shore up their “personal brands” by attracting retweets and likes on the back of Hate Duterte collateral masquerading as “woke” rhetoric. Duterte is being painted as a “misogynist” and a “tyrant” among other things which is a convenient effigy for wokedom’s “feminist” and “human rights” sloganeering to be directed at.
The “woke” bandwagon is just too hard to resist (or get off from) for Netizens chasing clout. As such, the person tasked to lead the Philippine Opposition’s 2022 election campaign will have the unenviable task of reining in this chi chi community of chattering titas and amigas and implement a coherent communication strategy with a consistent and well-coordinated messaging apparatus as its main pillar. This leader will need the stature and charisma to both inspire and command the attention of this “woke” community that dominate the collective voice of the broader Opposition. He or she will have to ensure that any semblance of inclusiveness the Opposition exhibit is not undone by any reversion to or association with elitist Yellowtard and communist rhetoric such as disente triumphalism, Martial Law and COVID Crybabyism, “human rights” fashionista ululations, ocho-ocho “people power”, and demonisation of the Philippine military and police.
To be seen to be one working with all Filipinos and not against mythical bogeymen and abstract historical demons is key to the long-overdue rise of a strong, modern, and respectable Philippine Opposition. Filipinos need a capable and intelligent Opposition leader to turn today’s bratty rabble of sissies and whiners into a force of smart fighters who say, and write more than lame banalities that add rather than subtract from the Philippines’ collective intellect.
The 2022 election is just around the corner. Clock is ticking.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.