CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 21 June) — There is only one opposition bet in the 2022 presidential elections.
And this opposition bet should not represent the Tagalog elites, Central Luzon and the landed cacique loosely called the dilawan.
Yes, the 2016 elections reflected the frustration of the people over the failure of post EDSA governments to institute reforms. A failure largely blamed on the dilawan government, supported by the oligarchs of ilustrado origin.
The anti-oligarch narrative of the Duterte campaign connected to the people who wanted order and wanted a decisive person to take on their fight. They took his promise to kill the drug addicts because the criminal justice system failed or too lenient and slow (in deciding cases); he is a fighter — in a jetski to assert the Philippines territorial claims in the West Philippine Sea — as the arbitration at the United Nations was too passive and whatever decision would just be a piece of paper. He promised jail for plunderers and the corrupt. He wanted the oligarchs down.
All except, perhaps, the killings were fulfilled. Fighter? Yes. He not only disrespects women, he fights them. He jailed a woman opposition senator on trumped up drug charges, using criminals as witnesses.
Not only did the Duterte administration abet the Chinese invasion of the West Philippine Sea; it opened the mainland to Chinese workers and sucked in Chinese debt trap in the name of “build, build, build” infrastructure project.
No, this administration is not anti-oligarchy. It is angry at a faction of the oligarchs — thus he kicked the asses of the Lopezes and the Ongpins. Then he created the Davao oligarch and baby-carried the oligarchs who kow-towed with his administration.
The Duterte administration’s narrative seemed right, but for the wrong reasons — what is happening is the exact opposite. His anti-dilawan narrative is, after all, at the bidding of the Marcoses whose hidden wealth is still being wagered to retake power.
If there is one thing that the president implemented to the letter, it is the bloody drug war and all its excesses hitting legitimate opposition.
The president is cavalier on everything, forgetting we are not at war and his primary task is to preside over nation-building.
The rest of governance, he left to the people around him. The government’s anti-COVID-19 response is proof that he is not in control of the government. Inane policies like wearing of face shield, that idiotic motorcycle shield, economically crippling lockdowns and, most importantly, the fumbling of the vaccination program.
For a while his “bakuna lang talaga ang solusyon” (vaccination is the only solution) worked. But when the vaccine was finally developed, the administration fumbled as his cronies made sure the bulk of the vaccines come from China, which is expensive, and efficacy questionable. A dose of Sinovac costs P1,200. Astra Zeneca is P740. Figure out why? The volume of US-made Pfizer either comes from donations from the private sector or from the US government.
The people are unhappy with this administration. They are also afraid.
Thus the need to shore up the opposition. Although the Liberal Party is the dominant opposition, its 2016 defeat was telling. It has to shed a lot of its dilawan tag. It may help that the party leaders are now aligned in one way or another to the progressives — Kiko Pangilinan, Kit Belmonte and Erin Tanada. These young lads honed their early leadership and political acumen from the parliament of the streets. We hope to see more of their progressive work.
Manny Pacquiao? He represents a faction of the administration party. He is not an opposition.
Isko Moreno? Opposition to what? Opposition to Erap? If at all he runs, he could be a third party. A gun in the holster of a faction of the oligarchs believed to be led by a mogul in the country’s shipping and port industry.
This leaves us with Vice President Leni Gerona Robredo. Yes, she has a dilawan baggage. But if you look at her advocacies, she has a persona of her own. A people’s lawyer and social development worker — this Bicolana could connect with the masses. But yet, another widow thrown into the fray.
My five cents worth is for Leni to get out of the dilawan shadow, and demonstrate that she is capable of fulfilling Jesse Robredo’s unfinished business (and more).
She may yet become a truly unifying, healing leader. But, for now, she has to show her “oragon” (feisty, determined, principled) spirit.
(BenCyrus G. Ellorin is a former journalist. He is now the chairperson of the advocacy group and think tank Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and the Environment / Pinoy Aksyon. FB: @NoypiAksyon; Twitter: @PAksyon)