Interesting thread posted by Doy Santos on Twitter where he points out how “[many] thought [President Rodrigo Duterte] would revamp the post-EDSA charter, just as [former President Ferdinand Marcos] did with the old republic, to extend his stay in Malacanang. He is proving that there are ways within the present system that allows him to do that.”
Could history be repeating itself? The framers of the 1988 constitution thought they had formulated an ironclad way to prevent a return of one man rule. Duterte may have found a way around that. He, like Marcos, is a signal that major democratic reforms are needed pic.twitter.com/zN6lHzXLHf
— The Cusp PH (@cusp_ph) July 9, 2021
The option has always been there but no one has bothered to test it until Duterte. Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) ran for Congress after her Presidency. This was largely ballyhooed by the Opposition but there was nothing illegal about it. The same is true with Duterte showing intent to run as Vice-President. He only needs a political party as a flag of convenience. He can win on his own as he did in 2016. The counter argument to be made is he can be a gadfly to the President who wins but it’s not within his nature to take an uncalculated political risk. He was in the 2016 race to win and he did in his own way on his own terms.
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In a conversation with a GRP colleague last night, we analyzed the situation. Marcos wasn’t from the elite when he became a politician — provincial elite at best as his family was known in Batac. But, outside of Batac, Marcos was unknown. He would only rise to prominence when he ran for Congress and later Senator.
The environment in which Marcos won the Presidency in 1965 was different. In the present, the Philippines has 109 million Filipinos with more than half of them at voting age. There is the emergence of the new middle class; overseas Filipino workers (OFW) families who enjoy material wealth because of above-average incomes from working abroad. These are the masa who have moved up in the social rung of society. But their value system is still masa-based and Duterte appeals to them because of his promdi projection.
Duterte understands that continuity is needed to maintain the gains under his administration — “equilibrium” he said in his statement. The fate of the country depends on the power blocs that continue to support Duterte. On the opposite side of the political fence are those who are marginalized because they are out of power. But their main problem is they don’t have much to show for during the 30 years they were in power. Duterte and GMA are both septuagenarians but they still have what it takes to be leaders with gravitas.
There is, however, also room for an alternative to emerge — one who sees the niche in the middle between the two narratives which naturally evolved from the political division which began in 1986. This is why history’s jurors are still out with their judgement on the Marcos period in the country. It took twenty years before there came a President — Marcos — who did what needed to be done right after World War II. The Philippines had always been the leader in democratic initiatives in the region but it has almost always failed to progress because the root cause of the plantation-style political structure has never been addressed. That fundamental social problem persists to this day.
We are not privy to what goes on in the heads of GMA and Duterte but, surely, they have their respective ideas for what comes next. The Opposition, for their part, continue to be stuck in their old narrative. Instead of admitting their mistakes of the past, they continue in their belief that they did right and the public will gravitate back to them. Unfortunately for them, this is no longer the case. Their exploitation of former President Noynoy Aquino’s death ended just as quick as it began. Only their diehard supporters were nostalgic. The general public did not respond to the appeal to emotion because they made that mistake when his mother former President Cory Aquino died in 2009 and Noynoy became President despite his lackluster record as Congressman and Senator.
It is up to the worthy challenger to put forth a disruptive platform which will make an impact on the public. Otherwise, the public will go for what they have seen works.
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