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LETTER FROM ROME: Post-Election Scenarios

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ROME (MindaNews / 24 April) — As the elections draw near many are anxious about what will happen after the winner of the presidential race is announced. Whoever wins will have an impact on the country for the next six years and beyond. We have been in darkness under an authoritarian rule that has failed to effectively address the problems of poverty, drugs, corruption, violence, change as well as the pandemic and the consequent economic crisis. Will the new president lead the country out of darkness?  Since the future is unpredictable it is better to come up imagine possible scenarios. 

Robredo Presidency

Her “miraculous” victory is met with euphoria and rejoicing among the majority of Filipinos. She reaches out to the supporters of other candidates. Although feeling cheated, there is no strong reaction from supporters of Marcos Jr who file a series of election protests and demand a recount.

She appoints people of competence and integrity in the cabinet and other government positions, she mobilizes the Pink Movement and Civil Society to assist in carrying out her program of government. She focuses on addressing the pandemic crisis like what she had been doing as vice-president but this time on a grander scale – stopping the spread of the epidemic, assistance to those most affected, etc. Appropriate policies and systems that address the pandemic, economic and ecological crises are implemented, Good governance with grassroots participation becomes the norm.

The rule of law is upheld. Those responsible for plunder and murder are held accountable. The Department of Justice initiates investigation on abuses and crimes committed during the previous administration. The government cooperates with the International Criminal Court in the investigation of the Extrajudicial Killings. System of transparency is put in place to prevent corruption. The peace process with the National Democratic Front is resumed and a final peace agreement is reached that addresses the roots of armed conflict. Since she was elected with the support of Church people there is close Church and state collaboration for the common good.

She faces the problem of lack of support from the Senate and House of Representatives if few of her allies win . She has difficulty in passing legislative agenda for reforms and good governance. She also has difficulty with local governments units dominated by traditional politicians and political dynasties. The Pink Movement can bear pressure on local government officials and promote good governance at the local and grassroots level. New leaders of the same mold as Robredo emerge and are supported that will challenge the traditional political elite and dynasties. 

Marcos Jr Presidency 

Scenario A

The elections turn out to be credible, fair and honest. The losing candidates concede but Marcos Jr. does not get the full support and respect because of a general feeling that his victory was achieved through lies and disinformation funded by his family’s ill-gotten wealth.  For the next six years, the efforts of Marcos Jr. focus on the following:

  • the restoration of his family honor and dynasty, stop all efforts to recover ill-gotten wealth and payment of estate tax, protection of Imelda from serving her sentence for graft.
  • the continuation of the policies and style of governance of the Duterte administration characterized by incompetence, corruption, violence and impunity.

He pursues the War on Drugs and the Pro-China policy as well as total war against the revolutionary movement.  He appoints his vice-president Sara as Defense Secretary to help carry this out. The death squads are allowed to continue to operate with impunity targeting not just drug users but also those who have been red-tagged. The International Criminal Court  investigation continues and includes Sara who was mayor of Davao when the Davao Death Squads were active. 

While uniting the traditional corrupt political elite, Marcos Jr. is unable to unite the nation behind him. Lacking in leadership experience and competence, he is incapable of addressing the pandemic, economic and ecological crises effectively.  

Being contented with the honor and glory of being the president he remains carefree and lazy and continues to practice an absentee and laissez-faire style of leadership. He depends on others to do the hard and dirty work and relies on the advice of his wife Liza thus, earning the title of  conjugal rule. He is unable to do away with corruption in government. He does not have the trust, confidence and respect of many Filipinos,  He is unable to go to the US for fear of being arrested. 

Crony-capitalism becomes rampant and  he is unable to attract foreign investments due to lack of investors’ confidence. The economy deteriorates and he is not able to fulfill his promise of bringing back the golden era of   the Philippines. There is no Tallano gold and those who voted for him and the majority of Filipinos remain impoverished and feel scammed once again. 

Leni Robredo does not disappear from the scene. She continues to serve in her own capacity even without government position. She provides leadership to the opposition and the Pink Movement that shifts to peaceful, nonviolent resistance.  

Every self-serving decision of the Marcos Jr administration is challenged and resisted.  His non-payment of P203 B estate taxes as well as non-implementation of the Sandigan Bayan conviction of Imelda for plunder is raised.  There is a threat to nonpayment of taxes. There is demand for accountability including investigation of corruption and extrajudicial killings. 

As the economic crisis deepens, the people have to fend for themselves. Civil Society groups, the members of the Pink Movement and Churches respond by sharing  their resources, time and expertise to deal with the bleak situation.  They promote a sharing and collaborative economy. Instead of relying on the government, they come up with concrete socio-economic programs and projects that address hunger and unemployment, alleviate poverty, and address climate change.  They promote renewable energy, circular economy, sustainable and regenerative agriculture. They implement the agenda and platform of the Pink Revolution even if outside the government. They make use of the digital information and communication technology and help the country to adapt to the emerging new industrial economic revolution.  They exert effort to change Philippine society from below. 

As Marcos Jr resorts to authoritarian style of governance copying his father’s and predecessor’s playbook, resistance increases. The political and economic situation deteriorates  There is heightened social unrest, division and tension. The NDF-CPP-NPA (National Democratic Front-Communist Party of the Philippines-New Peoples Army) become stronger as many – especially the youth- who are disillusioned with the situation and the political-economic system join the armed revolutionary movement fighting for radical change. Peace remains elusive as resistance to his rule grows. There is no peace negotiation as the government and the revolutionary movement adopt  a hardline stance. There is constant effort to oust him. The Church exercises a prophetic/critical role judging the Marcos administration as built on lies, deceit and corruption, having no moral basis to govern. A segment within the military is restive and does not support the repressive rule and pro-China and anti-US policy. The question: will he be able to finish his term or will history repeat itself? Will there be a peaceful transfer of power or a long dark bloody night? 

Scenario  B

Due to unchecked disinformation campaign, massive vote-buying and rigging of election with the complicity of Comelec, Robredo and other candidates do not concede. This triggers a sustained vigorous protest and civil disobedience campaign spearheaded by the Pink Movement  with Robredo providing leadership. This spreads nationwide with the support of the Church. 

The situation becomes volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Duterte declares a state of emergency until Marcos Jr is sworn into office. This leads to greater reaction. An insurrectionary mood prevails. Duterte orders a crackdown. NPA operations increase.  Due to civil disobedience the entire country is paralyzed. A segment of the military refuses to carry out repressive measures against the people. This can either be quickly resolved through People Power like 1986 – with history repeating itself – or to a long dark night of authoritarian rule and determined struggle to oust the ruling regime and usher in a new political-economic system. Whether there is a peaceful transfer of power or a bloody one remains to be seen. 

Sara Duterte Presidency

[These two scenarios, although seemingly farfetched and dismissed as conspiracy theory, cannot be ruled out. Questions have been raised why the Commission on Elections failed to come out with a timely decision on the disqualification cases against Marcos (Comelec’s 1st division dismissed the last disqualification case against Marcos on April 20 but petitioners’ lawyers said they will appeal before the Comelec en banc where three other appeals for disqualification of Marcos are pending) which could prevent the Supreme Court from coming up with a final ruling before the elections. Duterte’s allies are also making sure that Sara wins as vice-president by promoting a ROSA (Robredo-Sara) tandem. This has brought suspicion that this is part of a complex maneuver by Duterte to ensure his hold on power by proxy and defend him from the ICC investigation. There are two scenarios: a, Marcos Jr victory, b. Robredo Victory].

Scenario  A: Marcos Jr  is declared winner by the COMELEC. Sara Duterte  is also declared winner as Vice-President.  Before or after being sworn in, the Supreme Court decides to disqualify Marcos Jr.. Sara is proclaimed as the new president.

Scenario  B: Robredo wins the presidency with Sara as vice-president. Robredo has no support in the Senate & House of Representatives  dominated by Duterte lies. They maneuver to impeach and oust Robredo.  Sara becomes president assuring the continuity of Duterte  hold on power.

Whether scenario A or B, both trigger widespread  protest and civil disobedience spearheaded by the Pink Movement waging active nonviolent struggle. This spreads nationwide with the support of the Church. The situation becomes volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. This leads to greater reaction. An insurrectionary mood prevails.  NPA operations increase. Due to civil disobedience the entire country is paralyzed. This can either be quickly resolved through People Power like 1986 or to a long dark night of authoritarian rule and determined struggle to oust the ruling regime. 

Final Thoughts

We find ourselves in an uncertain, complex, ambiguous situation. We will be surprised how things will turn out. This is how many felt at the beginning of 1986 before the Snap Election  that Marcos Sr. called, confident of his victory. What happened in EDSA on Feb 22-25,1986 was totally unexpected. It was not in any of the scenarios. It seemed miraculous. 

But already we are seeing a glimpse of what can happen no matter what the outcome of the election may be. What we are seeing so far is the emergence of a new kind of politics that gives hope for the future – beyond May 9. A substantial number of ordinary citizens from all walks of life, most of them young people, fed up with the traditional style of politics, who are actively involved in the fight for good governance. They are people full of hope, with integrity, decency, kindness, compassion, self-discipline, creativity and joy. They represent the best version of the Filipino. 

They look for and support servant-leaders who can inspire them to share their time, talent and resources to work for a better Philippines. They are developing a sense of solidarity, communion and what sociologist Victor Turner calls “communitas”. We can already see and experience this in the massive rallies. They are organic and self-organizing, making use of the digital information and communication technology to connect to each other, fight false news and disinformation, and go out into the streets, and far-flung communities voluntarily to make a difference. 

The spirit of EDSA People Power is once again here and will not easily go away. This is the face of transformative politics that will replace the traditional transactional-patronage  politics dominated by corrupt and self-serving political elites and dynasties. Assuming that this is not just a temporary phenomenon but a genuine social movement,  the struggle – the Pink Revolution – will not end on May 9 –whether with a victory of Robredo or Marcos Jr. or a Daughterte presidency.  

Under a Robredo presidency, their active support and participation   can be relied on so that there will be genuine transformation and good governance. From among them will emerge new breed of servant-leaders chosen and supported by an awakened citizenry that cannot be bought and dominated by traditional politicians. They can change the prevailing political culture.  

Under a Marcos presidency, the Pink Movement will resist the continuation of the corrupt and authoritarian style of governance and any efforts of impunity, human rights violation, etc.  They are capable of carrying out massive protest and even another people power uprising when necessary. The struggle for good governance and genuine social transformation continues. This time it will come from below rather than from the top. This is the new paradigm of social change.

According to Italian sociologist Vilfredo Pareto, based on his studies of institutions and groups, it only takes at least 20 percent to make a difference. Arnold Toynbee in his study of the history of civilizations and nations also wrote about the role of “creative minorities” in initiating social change. Whether the number of those in the Pink Movement is enough to win this coming election remains to be seen. What is certain is that in the long run, this is enough to effect genuine social transformation.  This is the source of hope, the light in the midst of darkness. 

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Fr. Amado L. Picardal, CSsR is Executive Co-Secretary of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Union of Superiors General (USG-UISG) in Rome. A native of Iligan City, Fr. Picx lived and worked in Davao City from 1995 to 2011 and was assigned to Manila where he served as Executive Secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines Basic Ecclesial Communities Committee from 2011 to 2017. He went around the Philippines several times on bike or on foot, for peace and justice). 

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