Silence following Trillanes’s @1Sambayan coup vs Robredo bodes ill for Opposition prospects in 2022

I don’t get it. Despite their best efforts in the last five years and with no clear uptick in her approval and trust ratings, they still won’t stop singing paeans of praise to Vice President Leni Robredo. Former Inquirer editor John Nery, for example, in his piece “VP Leni’s crucial pandemic response”, writes…

It was unfortunate that Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson, described Trillanes’ announcement as “politicking.” What Trillanes wanted was to be considered as a principal candidate for president by 1Sambayan, not as an alternate to Robredo anymore. If it was principled politics for the Vice President to accept the selection process of 1Sambayan, the multisectoral effort to produce a unity opposition candidate, why would Trillanes’ clarification of his status, part of the very same selection process, be considered politicking?

It is possible that Gutierrez misspoke. But the real issue here has to do with the Vice President’s approach to politics. It is clear that, for her, the real purpose of public office is public service. That’s one of the main reasons I think she should in fact serve as the next president. But—here’s the crux—to be in public office, you need to win it.

I’m beginning to wonder if these opposition “public intellectuals” are aware of the reality that Robredo still doesn’t register with the public. They tend to mask this with the claim that she is the object of targeted attacks by administration supporters but the same can be said about the Opposition when it comes to President Rodrigo Duterte. What gives?

It seems the Opposition is still in a state of shock from their 2016 debacle. The field was cleared for Mar Roxas. Then Vice President Jejomar Binay was vilified. Then Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla were jailed. Senator Grace Poe’s strong performance in the 2013 midterm emboldened her to run for President. This was largely due to the widely-held perception that her father Fernando Poe Jr (FPJ) was cheated out of victory in 2004. But just as the starting gates were about to open, in comes Duterte as a substitute and he pulls away with the Presidency.

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The administration of then President Noynoy Aquino was complacent at the time because they were in control of everything. The whole government machinery was at their disposal and they still lost the top spot. They were, however, successful in installing Robredo. At this point, no candidate in the Opposition stable is capable of running in 2022. Nery claims that Robredo can mount a credible campaign. I doubt it. If she was able to build a base in 2016, it should’ve been enough to put at least three candidates in the Senate during the 2019 midterm. But it was a shutout.

The silence of opposition stalwarts last week when Trillanes made a public statement was ominous. Even Senator Franklin “Big Man” Drilon didn’t bother to join the fray to plead for unity. Senator Risa Hontiveros who is always sinking her teeth into any issue was also silent. The detained Senator Leila De Lima also didn’t send out a note from Crame. Kiko Pangilinan-Cuneta stuck to the South China Sea dispute. This is a bad sign. It means the opposition doesn’t think they stand a chance in 2022 unless a third-party candidate emerges.

This does not mean that they will be included in the Senatorial slate of such because we all know how the public are allergic to the color yellow. The re-electionist Senators exempt from this are those from who form part of the administration coalition – NPC, Lakas-CMD, NP and NUP. 1Sambayan has announced that there will be a major announcement from them in June. This gives them a 90 day period to get organized in time for the October deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy. We will know by then but the way it’s looking now, it doesn’t look good for the Opposition.

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