POSTSCRIPT / June 15, 2021 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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1Sambayan to lose in elections, unless…

THE grand announcement Saturday of the likely 1Sambayan opposition coalition candidates for president and vice president in the May elections next year hardly stirred interest, except for the reasons given by the nominees who begged off.

Those prominently mentioned earlier were Vice President Leni Robredo, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senators Nancy Binay, Ping Lacson and Grace Poe, Rep. Vilma Santos Recto, former senator Tony Trillanes, and FLAG chair Chel Diokno.

But before, during and after the announcement, Moreno, Binay, Lacson and Poe asked not to be considered. They gave various reasons, but it is understandable that serious candidates want to run with a winning ticket, and they seemed to be not sure 1Sambayan was it.

So now, picking from those left on the list, we see emerging as opposition standard bearers a team-up of Vice President Leni Robredo and Trillanes. The others could become senatorial bets.

Trillanes said he wanted to run for president, but that if Robredo went for it, he would settle for being her running mate. The lady from Camarines Sur, however, has not made up her mind about running – for the presidency or a Bicol congressional seat.

At the rate preparations are going, unless there is divine intervention, the two brave souls and those who would step up as senatorial candidates are in danger of being wiped out at the polls by the Duterte political pandemia sweeping the countryside.

What went wrong last Saturday? Nothing. That was just the point – it seems nothing much has happened since 1Sambayan was launched at the Makati Sports Club on March 18. We don’t see or feel anything substantial has happened since then to create and sustain a buildup.

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FROM my vantage in the gallery, the 1Sambayan looks like an elitist attempt to influence what’s happening down below. We think that those who presume to preach from their perch must make a serious effort to climb down till their feet are firmly on the ground.

1Sambayan must demonstrate concern and relevance to the masses reeling for more than a year now from the attack of a deadly coronavirus and the pressure of an economy gone helter-skelter. It is extremely difficult communicating with people bedeviled by such basic problems.

1Sambayan calls itself a coalition. A coalition of whom? Of individuals, or of political parties, warts and all? Is it reaching out selectively, passing judgment on persons and groups on the basis of its own elitist criteria?

As it strives to maintain its political purity, does it subscribe to the aphorism that politics is addition?

Is 1Sambayan intending to operate apart from the traditional opposition groups like the Liberal Party that have been battling in their own way the corrupt and the incompetent elements in government and their partners in the private sector?

Does 1Sambayan regard itself as a congregation of the blessed and the saints? If it is such a detached crusading force, it might discover that it takes a little harder to gather an impressive rally crowd in a plush sports club or in a public plaza with or without COVID-19.

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IT IS difficult to reform society and the system from the outside. An intending reformist can make headway by going right in and changing things in stages from inside.

The first order of business then is to win the elections by all legitimate means – on all levels, from the barangay to the national planes. How can anyone work out reforms if at the onset he fails in his bid to get inside with the electorate’s support?

Elections make for a quick legal way to get inside and break into the system. Only when one is inside and in effective control can he throw out the bums and their garbage while consolidating and protecting the gains as he moves on.

It will be difficult on the first attempt to break in if one is finicky about soiling his hands with the dirt of those still inside. It may be necessary to make adjustments and consider his using politicians’ own ways and means to insert himself bodily or in stages into the system.

Pardon my saying this, but 1Sambayan convenors may also want to take off their coats and ties, roll up their sleeves and, within protocols, connect with the great unwashed. Talk to the people in their own diction, with a minimum of English, to better understand and be understood.

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ELECTIONS are not won by posting smart-sounding text on social media. If you don’t outsmart the other camp in their own electronic game anyway, your messages will be drowned out by its well-oiled troll army.

You don’t win elections by talking to a microphone. To the extent that pandemic protocols allow it, go straight to the voters and talk to them in their dwellings and workplaces. Seek them out in their own neighborhood and their barangays. Feel them.

Find credible local leaders who can be cultivated to network with you because they believe in your program and your sincerity and capacity to make things happen for them.

1Sambayan timed its announcement with the celebration of Independence Day, as if to say that the people’s deliverance from Duterte is at hand, to ask them to keep the faith and vote in droves on Election Day for their own liberation.

Everyone who values his life and freedom must act with deliberate speed. There is much to do. It is just 11 months till the May 9 national elections ordained by the Constitution – unless, as we fear, somebody tampers with the calendar and declares a crisis as an excuse to cancel his judgment day.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 15, 2021)

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