On shaky ground: Traditional Opposition led by inexperienced Isko Moreno, Leni Robredo bumped off but still hungry for power

Harry Roque’s former law partner Joel Ruiz Butuyan posts a want ad for the opposition in his Inquirer piece “Wanted: An opposition coalition”. A “coalition” he says.

For the opposition to get us out of the black hole the current administration has brought the country into, it needs all hands on deck. That means all personalities, with unblemished and blemished pasts, must exert every effort to come together under the common objective.

Today is August 16. Barely a month and a half left before the filing of certificates of candidacy for May 2022 election. Butuyan describes the Duterte administration as a political black hole which thrives on intimidation and fear. He would like his readers to believe we are in a tyrannical authoritarian dictatorship. What is ironic is he doesn’t seem to see the writing on the proverbial political party wall. There is an opposition coalition but it’s not focused on Leni Robredo. For all intents and purposes, Isko Moreno is the opposition’s standard-bearer. This had been tipped off to us at GRP but we couldn’t come out with it because we don’t burn our sources and he would’ve been easily identified as the source.

It remains to be seen if Isko will get his wish that Grace Poe will be his running mate. But for all intents and purposes, taking into account the recent statements of the 1Samabayan convenors, Yelorme is it. Isko also has the support of the Reds by way of his stint at the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) where he was influenced by Judy Taguiwalo and Noel Leyco. But what are his chances given his glass ceiling is low? Isko is in the top five in the Presidential surveys but, at this point, high numbers are actually a disadvantage in his case. His weaknesses will only start showing in the debates and there is also the issue if being identified with the Yellows and Reds. Aksyon Demokratiko isn’t exactly the ideal vehicle but there isn’t much of a choice anymore since all the others have decided to align with the administration and the Liberal Party is all but dead.

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Isko also faces the challenge posed by the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) – Reporma coalition which actually presents the strongest challenge to the administration in terms of experience and machinery. Aksyon Demokratiko also met with NPC-Reporma but obviously the groundwork had been laid for Isko’s transfer which rendered the discussions moot. Lito Banayo is their campaign manager. For sure he will come up with the packaging needed by their slate but Isko’s number one weakness is experience. He hasn’t been in public service that long and hasn’t won a national post. The voters will see through this when the campaign goes into high gear. The debates will have the most impact on the public because that’s when the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates will be on full display. Imagine how Isko will fare when up against Ping Lacson, Sara Duterte and Bongbong Marcos (BBM), should there be a split in the administration coalition. Can he hold his own against these more experienced public officials? Harvard and Oxford leadership courses look good on paper but what counts the most is actual experience which is a working knowledge of government bureaucracy.

There is also the added risk of the opposition being split as well if Robredo forces the issue and runs for President. She will take votes away from Isko specifically. But who knows? Anything is still possible with the fluid political environment. At present, Lacson and running mate Tito Sotto present the voters with the better alternative to the opposition. Aksyon Demokratiko was only formed in 2004. The NPC has been in existence since 1992. Reporma was also organized in 2004 but it counts on the support of retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers and enlisted men among its ranks. That is a solid voting base considering Lacson has done much to advance the cause of AFP soldiers and that of other government uniformed personnel such as those serving in the Coast Guard, the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) and the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP). Isko has much ground to cover after he finally declares his candidacy if he wants to become a serious contender. But he may still fall short despite his efforts because he is simply too green for the job.

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