Why are Filipinos so disunited thirty-five years after Ferdinand Marcos was ousted? The answer lies in part to the unanswered question of who actually won the 1986 Snap Election. Marcos claimed victory. When the RAM mounted a coup and failed at the onset, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile verified the claim of the then opposition that Marcos cheated. That became the basis for the assumption of Cory Aquino to the Presidency.
Between 1986 and 2016, there were two hotly-contested elections; 1992 and 2004. Poll data shows that the Marcos camp could’ve won the 1992 election if only Imelda Marcos hadn’t run. Danding Cojuangco would win by a plurality over Fidel Ramos and Miriam Santiago. Yet Cojuangco lost in large part due to the efforts of Ramos who sent Roquito Ablan to meet with Imelda and convince her to run against Danding with whom she had a rift with.
This was repeated in 2004 again because of Joseph Estrada’s ouster by a civil-military coup in 2001. The Yellows mustered enough protests to bring down Estrada from power over perceived corruption. He was the first President impeached and tried by the Senate. The House prosecutors walked out of the trial in protest over a key ruling they lost the vote on because Estrada had the numbers. It was a foregone conclusion that he would be acquitted and the then opposition would have none of this outcome. They took to the streets for EDSA 2. Mob rule triumphed over the rule of law again. Erap’s proxy, Fernando Poe Jr (FPJ), lost the 2004 election where it was revealed that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) was caught on tape speaking with election operator and Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Director Virgilio Garcillano. The Hello Garci scandal wasn’t enough to oust GMA but it did earn her the distinction of the most unpopular post-Marcos President.
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Today, the rift is between those who favor the strongman Presidential style of Rodrigo Duterte over the leftist-militant-liberal ideology of today’s Opposition. The 1987 Constitution’s inherent defect allows the election of a plurality President where the losers will always say that the winner didn’t obtain a clear majority. The Yellows and Reds are basically sore losers. When the anti-Yellow politicians lost the election in 2010 with the victory of Noynoy Aquino, they cooperated with his administration. It was Aquino who pursued his personal vendetta against his political enemies by having them charged and detained on plunder raps.
The 2022 election has five declared candidates for President. This ensures another plurality President unless one of them actually garners enough votes for a majority win. This is also dependent on what the voters’ sentiments actually are; strongman rule or one that goes back to the ideology of the opposition.
The Yellows and the Reds are the cause of this political dysfunction because of their continuing refusal to entertain the idea of changing the form of government. All of this can be avoided by putting in place a run-off provision or a wholesale change to a federal parliamentary system which would allow for autonomous regions to spur development. Duterte did not act on this particular campaign promise of his but there were several attempts on the part of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to test the waters including the formation of an inter-agency task force.
It doesn’t help that it appears that the major power blocs supporting Duterte have gone on their own for the 2022 election cycle. Both the administration and opposition camps are in disarray with the latter having it worse because there are the camps of Vice President Leni Robredo and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso competing for votes. It remains to be seen how the candidacy of Manny Pacquiao will pan out as he has the weakest campaign organization among the three.
I really hope that charter change will be on the agenda of either the administration bet or that of the Ping Lacson – Tito Sotto ticket if only to serve as the solution for the achievement of national unity. The Philippines’ political divisiveness has exacted a heavy toll on the country’s development because the lack of continuity has made the Philippines unattractive to foreign direct investment. The county badly needs foreign direct investments (FDIs) if it’s to bring down its level of borrowing to make up for the revenue shortfall brought about by the disruption caused by the pandemic. There is also the urgent need to amend the Constitutional provisions limiting foreign ownership of corporations and land.
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