A Confused 1Sambayan

Convernors Howard Calleja, former congressman Neri Colmenares, Bro. Armin Luistro, former Audit commissioner Heidi Mendoza, Father Albert Alejo, retired Admiral Rommel Ong and Rene Magtubo lead the launching of 1Sambayanan on Thursday, March 18, 2021 in Makati City. Led by retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, 1Sambayanan is a broad coalition of democratic forces representing a spectrum of legitimate political persuasions in the Philippines that aims to usher in a competent, trustworthy administration for the May 2022 elections. It aims to field a single slate of national candidates for president, vic president and 12 senators. Rappler.com

It was supposed to be a big event. But what happened yesterday, June 12, became something like an anti-climax. 1Sambayan announced a list of possible standard bearers for the presidential derby this 2022, yet five out of the seven named candidates politely withdrew their names from the nomination. This exposed a very serious flaw or issue within the organization. Why reject the historical opportunity of defeating the anointed candidate of the most vile president this country has ever had? There must be something wrong either within the organization or those who handle 1Sambayan? Or, 1Sambayan has some rabbit up its sleeves that they intend to pull out come September this year. Coz, if not, 1Sambayan could lose this elections.

Senators Grace Poe and Nancy Poe, as well as Batangas Congresswoman Vilma Santos-Recto and Bulacan representative Eddie Villanueva all said “thanks but no thanks” to the invitation. Worse, the most popular candidate, Manila mayor Isko Moreno’s withdrawal drew the most reactions. Many observers see Moreno as the strongest possible opposition candidate for 1Sambayan but his action fueled speculations that there must be something abominable either within the organization or the organization’s big guns that not lending one’s name into it is a better move than joining it.

At this early in the political game, such acts do not augur well for 1Sambayan. Those withdrawals show weakness and a veritable denouement of the organization and by big political personalities, to boot.

Blame 1Sambayan’s handlers for this faux pas. Why announce these names knowing full well that they will withdraw at the last time? They should have known first hand that these personalities are not keen on representing what is being said to be the biggest political opposition ever against a dictator, Duterte. Maybe they decided to risk it, unmindful of the perception such withdrawals could create in the minds of voters.

1Sambayan should have considered that the Filipino voter votes like Republicans–they want to always side with the strongest perceived candidate. How then, will this be now achieved? Even if 1Sambayan fields their candidate by September, this candidate will be perceived as the weakest one seeing that five big political personalities rejected their nominations in the first place. Politics is perception and such a perception of weakness would surely spell poll disaster by 2022.

Ah, 1Sambayan can always commit such amateurish moves because they are all political newbies. Err, no? Look at the 1Sambayan convenors and most if not all, are veterans of political wars, and actually even ex-government officials, with the exception of one or two showbiz personalities. They are not fools, the public presumes. The question now is–why this happened in the first place?

Reasons why 1Sambayan is weak

First, 1Sambayan should be consistent with its narrative of promoting honesty in governance or tapat na pamumuno. If this is the overarching narrative, then the counter-narrative should be hindi tapat or a leadership of lies. Is this the overall assessment of the Duterte administration that is expected to appeal and get a sizable chunk of the electorate to their side.

I think 1Sambayan is spot on when it comes to their slogan. However, they fail in another aspect of the entire thing that is providing believable proof points or what I call etymeme propositions that support their call for “tapat na pamumuno.”

Every single one of the convenors, with the exception of one or two, had all been involved with an administration that continues to enjoy negative assessments from the public. How would the public believe that this movement means well when the very people behind its conception have all but been involved in several controversies during their stint with government? How dare they claim that they know what “tapat na pamumuno” really means on the operational level when they themselves faltered in this aspect during their involvement with the government?

Second, 1Sambayan fails to create an emotive call why people should reject a Duterte extension. If Duterte is so evil, then why are personalities such as Eddie Villanueva, Vilma Santos, Isko Moreno, Grace Poe and Nancy Binay politely refused to engage with him or his successor?

Lastly, 1Sambayan should have been transparent in its process of selecting or interviewing its probable candidates. This is in line with their claim of being an independent or democratic force.



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