POSTSCRIPT / March 21, 2021 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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1Sambayan’s best recruiter is Duterte

A TORTUOUS trail awaits “1Sambayan”, the oppositionist coalition that took its first step Thursday in a journey seeking to rally the masses to vote out in May 2022 the Duterte forces holding sway in the government.

The statements of the group’s convenors in their launch in Makati did not send sparks flying to ignite a political conflagration. Neither were the few names mentioned as possible opposition candidates met with exultation.

But that was just the kickoff of a 12-month campaign of a still wobbly coalition leading to the 2022 polls. (We’re assuming the national elections next year will take place as ordained by the Constitution.)

One big thing going for 1Sambayan, however, is President Duterte’s casting his shadow on practically everything that the masses are suffering from or complaining about. The negative identification with him could rub off on his anointed candidates in 2022.

Duterte’s continuing to consolidate power, with his finger seemingly behind every trigger, reinforces the impression that the “kapalpakan” (mismanagement, fumble) seen in many of his undertakings is inspired or at least tolerated by him.

Another view, somewhat kinder because it puts distance between him and the dastardly act, is that he is losing control of his operatives. The mad rush to make hay usually happens when a leader’s followers see the sun about to set on them.

The opposition can gain adherents as Duterte presides over the ineffectual campaign against the COVID-19 scourge, the massive loss of jobs and livelihood opportunities, the hunger stalking the land, the soaring public debt without commensurate returns, the killing spree of state forces out to silence dissent, the concomitant violation of human rights, the refusal to challenge Chinese encroachments in Philippine maritime areas, the selective application of the law, the rebound of corruption in the bureaucracy, et cetera.

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CONVENORS of 1Sambayan describe their coalition as a broad spectrum of “democratic forces” from the far left such as Bayan Muna party-list and the extreme right such as Magdalo party-list.

They are listing would-be candidates whose record and reputation should be in contrast to that of Duterte officials that 1Sambayan seeks to kick out with the support of an aroused population. They plan to field a complete slate of candidates for president, vice president and 12 senators.

We say this early, however, that its offer of an alternative will fail if its lineup is marred by the presence of politicians whose clans have exploited power or plundered the treasury, the enablers of Duterte, the political butterflies flitting from one party to another, and those notorious for their lack of conviction, commitment and compassion for those in the fringes of society.

Among the 1Sambayan convenors were former Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, retired Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, former Education Secretary Armin Luistro, former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, former Commission on Audit commissioner Heidi Mendoza, and anticorruption activist Fr. Albert Alejo.

Carpio said Filipinos should not endure another six years under Duterte’s anointed successor: “The Filipino people should reject all those identified with dictatorship and authoritarianism… all those responsible for, or who abet extrajudicial killings, and whose mantra is, kill, kill, kill… all those who violate human rights, all those who plundered the government.”

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SINCE it announces its intention to bring down Duterte, 1Sambayan must rise as the opposite or the antithesis of the budding strongman. The masses must not spot in the new opposition the same virus of the very disease they want to cure.

Except for Vice President Leni Robredo, we found lackluster the names of others listed by 1Sambayan as possible opposition candidates for president or vice president.

Robredo, Liberal Party chair, has said she may decide (whether to run for president or not) close to the filing deadline of certificates of candidacy. She said she would have to be “extremely prepared” not just for the presidency but also for the campaign, citing lack of resources and the thinned-out opposition ranks.

Money need not be a limiting element. A strong presidential candidate usually finds himself besieged by big donors (mostly gamblers putting their money on a “llamado” for insurance) and the usual political riffraff drifting with the ebb and flow of the tide for survival.

The opposition will have to face the reality on the ground, whose most serious test is re-educating the masses, awakening them to the fact that they deserve better and that a bright future could be theirs only by voting wisely and patriotically — together.

In the homestretch, there is the question of how to draw in and protect the votes, while playing under the rules that have been rewritten to favor whoever did the last revision and are now holding the power levers and the money bags.

These are some of the challenges strewn along the rough road to May 2022. They are daunting, but as we started to say in the beginning, the opposition can use Duterte himself and his kapalpakan to rouse up the patient – no, not the Mayor, but the people.

 Tulfo more credible than Sinas on Covid

GEN. Debold Sinas, Philippine National Police chief, denied Thursday he was inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine of Chinese firm Sinopharm as reported by columnist Mon Tulfo, former special envoy to China.

Sinas said he would not have contracted COVID-19 if Tulfo’s claim were true.

“Not true. If I had the vaccine, I shouldn’t have not been infected with COVID-19 today,” he said in a text message to The STAR. In his column, Tulfo said he and Sinas were injected with smuggled Sinopharm vaccines in November last year.

“Sinas will survive because he got injected with the Sinopharm vaccine along with this columnist,” Tulfo wrote, adding that Sinas’ security escorts also got the jabs.

Between Sinas and Tulfo on this vaccination issue, I believe Tulfo is telling the truth.

(A personal COVID-19 update: I was injected the other day the second dose of my Pfizer vaccination in the US. I pray that, as in the first shot on Feb. 28, I will not experience adverse reactions.)

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 21, 2021)

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