Philippine Opposition still lacks a POPULAR united front critical to a 2022 win

“Dutertismo” is supposedly a label coined by the Philippine Opposition to encapsulate the character of the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. It is, of course, widely known that the character of the Duterte presidency is marked by strong words, a cult of personality, and a virulent nationalist sentiment. The latter — strong nationalism — was one of the pillars of Duterte’s campaign in the lead up to the 2016 elections. Duterte’s use of the national colours provided his personal brand a stark contrast to his predecessor, former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III who wore a yellow ribbon pinned to his shirt in practically all his public appearances over the entirety of his term. The yellow ribbon has long been a symbol of the political camp of the Aquino-Cojuangco dynasty — the “decent” camp, we were all led to believe.

Filipinos had grown so tired of this pompous self-absorbed political brand and the elitism it reeks of that the 2016 elections came around with a red carpet pratically rolled out for Duterte to march triumphantly into Malacanang flying the Philippine flag. Almost as soon as that happened, the Opposition, smarting from that devastating loss, quickly got to work on a vicious propaganda campaign to paint “fascism” all over the Duterte administration. The Opposition’s manufactured notion of “Dutertismo” allowed them to put an “ism” frame around the Duterte government that defined the space within which the Opposition would be dropping their “truth bombs”. Of course, their notion of “the truth” is just as engineered and ideologically aligned with the “war” on “disinformation” and “fake news” being waged by their allies in the Philippines’ Big Corporate Media industry.

“Fake news” and “disinformation” were the additional bogeys created by the Opposition put up alongside “Dutertismo” as targets for the bombardment sustained by his “critics” over the last several years. Despite the catastrophic loss of the Opposition’s “Otso Diretso” coalition in the 2019 elections, there was no letup in this bombardment. Opposition spotters were evidently directing artillery fire to ineffective targets. One would think such a colossally-ineffective campaign will have been re-evaluated following that 2019 fiasco which all but crushed the political careers of eight high-profile Opposition personalities. None such re-evaluation happened. As we can plainly see today, the same approach persists and the Opposition continues doing the same thing, not only expecting different results in 2022 but feeling entitled to it.

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Beating Duterte’s camp will require massive popular backing and it does not take rocket scientists to see that the Opposition cannot afford to spread their votes thin across multiple presidential candidates. This is the thinking behind their first lame attempt at a broad Opposition coalition, their so-called “1Sambayan” group headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio. Unfortunately, a broad coalition endorsing one candidate to unite their lot will require other ambitious bids for the presidency to step back and get behind the coalition standard bearer. This is a lot to ask of what could easily be up to three or four non-administration-backed presidential aspirants each with their own personal agendas at stake. There are, after all, no real platforms at stake — only these fragmented competing agendas.

A sample of the infighting that will likely beset the Opposition in the coming months is the attempted coup for the top position within 1Sambayan mounted by convicted coup plotter and former “senator” Antonio Trillanes. His attempt to unseat “vice president” Leni Robredo from her loft in 1Sambayan was an embarrassing circus that played out before an electorate that had already started taking stock of their options. It was a preventable setback for a lot that aspires to “unite” to survive.

To this day, such a united front eludes an increasingly desperate Opposition whose eminent thought leaders have run out of ammo after their pathetically “weaponised” issues — their “assault on press freedom” ululations, their “human rights” chorva, their community pantryneering, and their “Duterte is a misogynist” demonisation campaign amongst others — have all miserably failed to put a dent on Duterte’s popularity. What next for the Opposition? There’s still a few months ago — increasingly emphasising few. Nonetheless, as the favourite tagline of that crooked media network ABS-CBN goes, abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

4 Replies to “Philippine Opposition still lacks a POPULAR united front critical to a 2022 win”

  1. It is an old political game, that the opposition is playing on Duterte. It is called : “politics of destruction “.

    Offer us a better alternative to Duterte…this is what we want. But, these “idiots” cannot understand the new ways of politics. We voters, are getting wiser now…we had been misled by politicians , for many years.

  2. True, it’s been almost 6 years, and the Opposition back in the PH still has nothing that can pose a threat… except the land-dispute with China. While Pres. Duterte’s friendlier approach with Beijing is far more beneficial than ex-Pres. B.S. Aquino’s Beijing-hostile, Washington-subservient stance. Yet, it seems to be his least popular policy among the Filipino people. With the greater emphasis on the dispute on the forefront of the news-headlines, media may aid in trying to erode support for Duterte & his allies as the election comes.

    Here in the U.S., the media did something similar. Then-Pres. Trump had enough support for a November re-election with a 52% approval-rating even by September…
    The media super-emphasized his much less popular anti-COVID response.
    And he lost.

    The U.S. liberal then-V.P. (now-Pres) Biden may be trying to covertly pull geopolitical strings for escalating the South China/ West PH Sea dispute as the 2022 arrives to exact revenge on Pres. Duterte, given his harsh treatment of his ex-boss fellow-liberal Pres. Obama. God forbid, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities, given Washington’s long track-record of successes across the globe.

    1. You can include this one also…

      “In the Philippines case, George Shultz performed the roles of both the ‘economic hit man’, destroying and taking full control of the Philippine economy, and the coup-master, deposing the Philippine President in favor of an IMF puppet—while calling the operation “people power.””

      Back in 1983, Secretary of State George P. Shultz arrived in the Philippines on the first stop of a four-nation Asian trip today and reaffirmed United States support for President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

      But at the same time Senior American officials traveling with Mr. Shultz said that the Reagan Administration was seeking to open lines of communication to Filipino opposition groups that might someday share power after Mr. Marcos’s eventual departure.

      The job of making contact with opposition groups has been left to the American Embassy staff. Mr. Shultz and his delegation restricted their meetings here to talks with Government leaders.

      While the senior officials said the end of the Marcos Government was not imminent, one commented: “The Marcos regime is entering its twilight and we don’t want to find ourselves in the same position we did in Iran when the Shah was overthrown.”

      This clearly demonstrate the US balancing act in dealing with matters of foreign diplomacy. No permanent friends nor enemies, that the US national interest always comes first before anything else. That’s permanent.

  3. Going back to another Marcos administration with ill gotten wealth would hurt IF Lopez becomes VP… sad but cruel.

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