POSTSCRIPT / May 19, 2019 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Political war fatigue to dampen protests

MANY persons active in the May midterm election who now feel campaign fatigue would rather rest and resume their normal lives. That may not go well with those who want sustained reformist pressure on President Duterte.

It seems to us also that the political opposition, hit hard by Duterte’s sweeping the top 12 slots in the Senate race, is leaving the post-election skirmishes to the media, poll-watch groups and student activists. That is not fair to those burdened sectors.

Not a few netizens have been asking why the opposition seems to have slinked away, badly wounded, after the 12-0 wipe-out. Is it raising the white flag?

We were mulling over these points when somebody asked “Which ‘opposition’ are you talking about?” It was a valid question, considering that the tag “Opposition” had been hijacked by the Nacionalista Party (NP) with the help of the Commission on Elections.

Many people regard the Liberal Party (LP) led by Sen. Francis Pangilinan as the opposition party – until the Comelec ruled before Election Day that the NP of Manny Villar was the “dominant opposition party” with the PDP-Laban of President Duterte as the “dominant majority party.”

“Dominant” is an apt description of the Duterte camp and its ally the NP-Villar group. We think, however, that the Comelec should have designated the NP as the “loyal opposition” to distinguish it from the “real opposition.”

For clearer reference, we have started here to call the LP and like-minded sectors that are openly critical of Duterte as the “political Opposition.”

As the election has primed media and the public to be raising more questions, we feel cheated by the LP’s reducing its post-election presence – especially after it drew attention by forming the “Otso Diretso” suicide squad aiming for an independent Senate.

 Poll probe: Right move, but too late

WE were set to write off the political Opposition as a “weder-weder” disturbance when the Liberal Party surprised us the other day by asking the Comelec to form an independent body to investigate the glitches that had raised doubts about the integrity of the May 13 election.

It was the right move – but we see it as a futile gasp for air of a terminal patient. Too little, too late. Under the current regime, the maneuver will not stall, much less prevent, the proclamation of the Duterte Dozen to strengthen the PDP-Laban-NP grip on the Senate.

The Liberals, especially the Otso veterans, must get up, step out of the shade and continue fighting for principles instead of letting the overburdened media, concerned citizens and roused-up students to continue the struggle for real change.

It should not be said that the Opposition wooed the people’s votes just to regain lost political ground and that, with the election over, it can now return to being quiet and invisible until the next seasonal electoral storm.

The Opposition should not nap while the people insist on knowing the truth about the seven-hour inactivity of the parallel server of the poll-watch citizens’ group during the early vote transmission; the malfunction of almost a thousand vote-counting machines and SD (secure digital) cards; the cropping up of names of candidates not marked by the voter; the uncertain certification of the integrity of the  election program before it was installed in the automated system; et cetera.

It is not fair, as we have started to say earlier, that in this representative government setup, the citizens themselves carry the main brunt of checking the ruling majority, as well as looking after their common interests and well-being.

In sum, the political Opposition should never sleep. It should earn and continually validate its commission as the minority’s representative in the system of checks and balances in government.

 Citizens bewail effects of poverty

MANY readers have expressed common thoughts on the May 13 election. We share below samples culled from an email of Mr. Tan, a Muntinlupa businessman:

The opposition read the people wrong again. They promised good governance and various programs. But the country is comprised of layers of voters segmented by economic class. Some 90 percent are the poor, those lacking education, living in barrios or barangays without opportunities and wealth. The opposition should have addressed them.

The thinking class doesn’t need to hear those promises, they’re sold already to remove Duterte or his minions. As does the Catholic church, which preaches morals and the need to clean up politics. But even the Church is blind to the needs of the poor.

Meanwhile, what do corrupt politicians do apart from advertising illegally and forcing themselves into everybody’s consciousness? They give money to the poor. Whether they will steal that in the future is another matter. The poor need to fill their stomachs and the money helps.

I’ve tried assuring our maid that I will see her daughter thru college, but my maid was not looking at 10 years from now, she just thinks about tomorrow or next week. And she has decent income from my household. Think about those in the provinces, or squatter areas in Metro Manila.

We have voted and forced the “right” people into government from the time of the first EDSA. Are Filipinos still poor? Are they still lacking in education and basic services? You bet, and you can bet big.

I think the poor have come to believe that there is nobody to lift them out of poverty, and have lost faith in moral leaders. They will not even follow the Church in terms of voting (except for the INC, or similar dictatorship religions). They have lost faith in the system, bahala na lang. What’s important is that they have P1,000 going to their pockets this election. Who cares about the future?

There is no silver lining here, not even a People Power 4. These are the realities and nobody thinks about them enough to find solutions. Mabuti pa si Duterte, they came up with the Pangtawid program which my maid said will give them P500/month for each family.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of May 19, 2019)

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