Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The survival of the Opposition lies in creating a new narrative of change

Months before the elections, a lawyer friend of mine said that BBM is most certainly going to win these elections and probably be “the majority president” of this age. Surveys don’t lie, he says, and the enormous electoral machinery of the Marcoses coupled with their vast financial resources may make this happen.

Personally, I agreed with him. However, I can’t shake off the fact that all of these things may have followed a script that led to a Marcos victory. Everything seems like it was meant to happen.

As a political observer, I sensed this growing frustration among Filipinos as early as 2010. Many Filipinos suffered during the tumultuous Arroyo administration, and the majority blamed grafters in government as the ones behind their economic hardships. Voters experimented with the liberal democrats represented by the now almost defunct Liberal Party (LP); thus, another Aquino was put to the helm. However, internal dissension and massive reports of corruption ruined what a highly successful administration was. While most corruption happened during the Arroyo administration, most did not expect it to continue with the Aquino regime. The expose on Napoles happened during the time of Aquino III and most thought that it was the Liberals who cooperated with the Napoles gang on raiding the public coffers.

Thus, the widely held perception nowadays though highly simplistic in logic is this– whether Liberal or not, these political personalities are just the same. Worse, instead of just one family (the Marcoses) who did the looting, other “lesser mortals” also dipped their hands into the cookie jar.

Worse, even after Duterte ascended into power, several Liberals spoke condescendingly against the masses, even describing them as part of the “laylayan.” Whoever convinced Leni Robredo to use the term “laylayan” should be expelled and shot. Instead of publicly admitting the failure of the liberal democratic experiment, most of the political personalities   within Liberal party circles even flouted their so-called “intellectual” ascendancy over the mass of Filipino voters. Hence, this massive tsunami of hatred against these Liberals led to the comeback of the Marcoses.

Aside from this, most of the opposition even used religion as a tool for “moral” ascendancy, branding those who supported BBM as irreligious, even heretics.

The comeback of the Marcoses thus became a reality because of the undoing of the Liberals themselves. By portraying themselves as the paragon of morality without basis in reality, the Opposition further decimated their ranks and, worse, even led to the diminution of the real opposition.

What is to be done?

Seize the narrative by its horns. Dominate public discussions. The opposition must go back to its roots. Organizing must continue unabated.

The media should be liberated from its present condition. The industry is fragmented. Enormous opportunities are there, particularly when this country transitions from the analog stage to digital. By that time, the playing field will all be leveled. Technology will allow even civil society groups to participate in the public sphere. It is a hard and tortuous path yet it is highly necessary for the sake of a functioning democracy. The total domination of the anti-people narrative is expected to further lead to a diminution of democracy in this country.

Work for the election of idealistic personalities in local government units, from local councils to the House. This is the only way for reform democracy to survive.

The next two years will be crucial and will define the future of this country. While BBM enjoys a vast mandate, the realities of politics will still chart the direction of his administration.

First, there are the oligarchs, most of whom do not like him. The business community he faces right now differs from the one his father defined or created for the dictatorial regime. Admittedly, those who suffered from the hands of the Marcoses thirty or so years ago had recovered financially and had been controlling vast segments of the local economy. These oligarchs have the means to threaten the stability of his administration. Most of these oligarchs will try to ingratiate themselves and force proximate relationships with the powers in Malacanan.

Second, the youth segment of the population remains restless. There are indications that it is slowly consolidating itself into one anti-BBM block. An ideological framework will help in achieving organizational unity among these idealistic youth.

Third, while 31 million possibly supported BBM, this does not mean that such a huge number may stay with him throughout the rest of his term or even beyond. BBM and his administration must ensure that this vast number of people’s needs are satisfied through social welfare programs. Expectedly, the people will be the first victims of this developing economic recession. You cannot feed them with promises. Otherwise, this growing frustration within the ranks of the people will burst forth like another political tsunami over the next few months.





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