Indeed, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. The old adage evidently describes what is likely to be behind the interesting behaviour of the Philippine Opposition nowadays. After a crushingly humiliating rout in this year’s national elections, the Opposition has never been quite the same. It is no longer the revered “force of good” — a brand it once commanded in a conjugal theocracy with the Roman Catholic Church. The once powerful narrative that was forged in a “popular uprising” in 1986 that served as its philosophical underpinning is now an inert relic that lives only in quaint museums erected in desperation within tony private universities and exclusive enclaves by “thought leaders” funded by sponsors with vested interests in the old status quo.
A feeling of entitlement to political power was given a stark reality check by the Filipino people this year and a spurned Opposition has yet to come to terms with that. Unfortunately they choose to deal with this rejection by coming up with a bevy of demons that, they insist, worked against their crusade — “trolls”, “disinformation”, “enablers”, etc. Their attempts to lead Filipinos to believe that behind all these demons is a single leader — current President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr — is backed by such fury. To the Opposition, Marcos is the equivalent Great Satan that religious nuts invoke to incite inquisitions, jihads, and terrorist attacks. The fury of the scorned Opposition is indeed upon us. It is fuelled by a lack of personal accountability — personal accountability for the part their political ineptitude played in their own demise.
Unfortunately for the Philippine Opposition, neither fire nor brimstone is raining upon the “evils” of Opposition leaders’ fantasies. At best, their calls to action are heeded only by a minority albeit a noisy one — noisy because they have at their beck and call the Philippines’ mainstream media institutions. The Philippine Opposition need a new strategy that is more effective at reaching and converting Filipinos. More importantly, it needs to step up to the role of providing a good balance to the administration — not just in terms of being contrarian or dissenting for the sake of these, but more as a source of complementing ideas and points of view.
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The key challenge for the Opposition camp today is to get over the monumental butthurt of losing an important election that they are evidently wallowing in. Sure, it stings to lose, it hurts to be rejected, and it is hard to get back into the meat market and compete for attention and relevance after suffering a crushing rebuke. Thing is, the latter is what it means to contribute productively to politics (which is a lot different to merely adding noise which is essentially what the Opposition is doing today). You learn from your mistakes instead of defining yourself by those mistakes ad infinitum.
First thing’s first, the Opposition need to get themselves a new and better leader. As long as they continue to latch on to their traditional ones — Leni Robredo who turned their lot into a laughingstock, Leila De Lima who is in prison and is not very telegenic nor tiktok-genic, Joma Sison who is hiding on the other side of the planet, and all the rest who are stained with LOSER forever — the Opposition will never regain their place as mature players in Philippine democracy. Second, they need a new narrative and a new set of friends. The Yellowtard narrative is dead (literally, in fact — as all their “heroes” either lie six feet under or are headed there). Communism is a mere sad relic of the Cold War and is irrevocably associated with terrorism no matter what the suits say. And the ol’ “helping the poor” rhetoric? Filipinos are over that as well or, more to the point, they never really did care about the poor (Filipinos walk by scenes of poverty everyday and hardly raise a fake eyebrow to express even token “concern”). “Concern” for the “poor” is a mere fashion statement that only students of chi chi private Catholic schools could afford to harbour. The assumption that poverty is a key election “issue” had long been debunked as well.
Filipinos deserve a better Opposition and not the one they had put up with over the last three decades and continue to put with today. Is there a group or camp up to the task of building a new proposition for the Filipino people? One that is more forward-looking and less of retrospective fear-mongering one that they are subject to today? Only time will tell and only a wherewithal to aspire to true greatness will see that happen.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.