What is more astonishing is the ability of the opposition to obtain popular support despite failing to exploit to the hilt major issues against the administration. It is easily noticeable that even the bitterest critics of Arroyo have fallen into the trap of treating the election as a mere horse race. They have hardly touched on, among others, the “Hello, Garci” scandal, the extrajudicial killings and harassment of Left-wing activists, the pervasive corruption, the sellout of our sovereignty through the Balikatan exercises and as shown in the case of convicted American rapist Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, the illegal Executive Orders that violate the principle of check and balance, and the lies and half-truths about the economy.
It is indeed disappointing that the opposition did not press on these as among the legitimate issues which should have taken center stage. For these are precisely the issues that will make the administration a sitting duck hence, the TU’s untenable insistence that debates be confined to “platform”.
True, any government needs a concrete platform. But should not honesty be a platform, too? Are respect for human rights, transparency and territorial integrity not legitimate issues of governance? These are the talking points which the opposition could have used to their utmost advantage.
The opposition should have asserted that the Filipino people have the right to know the whole truth behind those illegal telephone conversations. That the government is duty-bound to explain why it helped Mr. Smith escape from Philippine justice and sent him back to the loving arms of American Embassy officials. [The U.S. had no need for the Delta Force in that derring-do.]
The opposition should have unmasked the deception behind the glowing statistics on the economy. It should have protested with more vigor the killings of activists by security forces even if these are just a “speck of blood,” as a prelate would describe the deaths of some 800 leftists – and counting.
The point here is that for the most part the opposition allowed these issues to take a backseat. It could have hit the campaign trail with guns blazing had it loaded the political ammunition which were delivered to it on a silver platter.
And, oh yes, the opposition can even forget about formulating its own economic platform. That has long been the task of our foreign creditors.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno received in 1987 the Jose W. Diokno Award for winning in a national editorial writing contest sponsored by Ang Pahayagang Malaya and the family of the former senator. He can be reached at hmcmordeno@gmail.)