You would think that if Manila Times columnist Antonio Contreras is of this belief then he should at least stop being petty in his criticism of Duterte. In his recent piece “Political opposition is to blame”, Contreras writes about today’s dysfunctional Opposition and how it had foolishly wasted time and money on a dud…
It cannot be overemphasized — Robredo is an unwinnable candidate. She may have performed a miracle and won, and such may have been caused by God or by fate or by Smartmatic, but a political strategist worth his mettle would have known that she is a hard sell for 2022. The political opposition has tried all tricks in the bag of its well-paid publicists and public relations professionals, from making her look intellectual, to pumping up her social development assistance programs. Her management team is composed of the best that money can buy. But in survey after survey, her numbers simply do not show any evidence that she is resonating with the people.
The problem with Contreras is that he is being petty and doesn’t ascribe to the advice he gives to the Opposition. President Rodrigo Duterte reached out to the Opposition after he won. This was his first statement and it was continuously emphasized until his first State of the Nation Address (SONA). The speech he delivered included a call to unity which he said was genuine. He showed sincerity when vice president Leni Robredo was appointed Housing Czar.
Meanwhile, Sen. Leila De Lima wasted no time as Chair of the Justice Committee by calling for an investigation into the alleged extra-judicial killings of drug suspects. Robredo was fired by November because she didn’t do her job. She expected to coast along at her own pace but the President would have none of this. It didn’t help that she also joined in on the chorus considering she was part of the Cabinet. In short, she wasted the opportunity to work with the government she was a part of. Since then, it has been one circus act after the other in terms of exposés designed to trigger another “people power,” with the goal of installing her as the President.
The public was left with no choice. The Opposition didn’t present a viable alternative for them because they were being destructive instead of being constructive. For her part, Robredo assumed her role as titular head of the Opposition and continued with her endless stream of criticism even if these weren’t registering with the people. This was evident in the catastrophic defeat of the opposition senatorial ticket in the 2019 midterm election.
The strategy hasn’t changed yet the opportunity is there for a constructive Opposition which assiduously functions as an effective fiscalizer of the administration. Instead of PR-based strategies like the Bikoy video, it can be issues-based using the Overton window to determine the public pulse about issues which have an effect on their daily lives. A concrete example is the formation of 1Sambayan which is another one of the many “coalitions” the opposition has formed aside from Tindig Pilipinas and LODI. It’s all catchword acronyms all devoid of substance. 1Sambayan looks to be a one-man show with Antonio Carpio in the lead role. It has not presented a mechanism for candidate selection nor does it have a platform. This is because the “convenors” haven’t even met. It’s obvious that the opposition is divided even if they can get their acts together on more simpler efforts such as the community pantry as agitation propaganda (agit-prop).
Time is not on the side of the Opposition as the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy draws near. It’s bench is shallow. It doesn’t have any rising stars in Congress or at the local level. It’s desperate to the point where it is considering Angel Locsin as a candidate. The May 2022 election is for the administration to lose. This will only happen if there is a repeat of 1992 when there was a record field of Presidential candidates.
If the opposition wants to be relevant after 2022 it should buckle down and focus on the hard work of rebuilding and rebranding. Otherwise, just like the dinosaur, extinction is looming. 2022 may just be the final nail in their coffin.