For LP, it’s more than just unifying the Opposition
The people propping Vice President Leni Robredo still do not get it. They may be living in a world away from Philippine politics, or their minds are in a different period of our country’s history. VP Robredo’s task is not about unifying the opposition for there are no diverse political groups opposing the current administration. One even wonders if there is opposition at all. The VP is facing a tall order — forming an opposition, and it better be a credible one.
After the May elections, the once behemoth Liberal Party was severely decimated. Though they won under the LP, and some managed to “negotiate” to keep their party tags, the LP members, and surprisingly, even their leaders, raced to the President’s political fence. A handful of LPs left in the House of Representatives are still fighting to be recognized as the minority.
In the Senate, LP members are no different from their House counterparts as they conveniently joined the majority coalition in a vain attempt to wrangle for committees. Had they remained intact and resisted the temptation of power, or at least stall for some time, LP would still be a formidable force in Philippine politics. But in forming strategic alliance with the current government, with the likes of former Speaker Belmonte and former Senate President Drilon joining the coalition, LP lost its integrity and ascendancy to criticize the administration. They, and more members of Congress, could have been “unified” by VP Robredo.
If they want to remain significant, the opposition must recalibrate its role and strategy. His critics may describe him as a naïve local politician, but President Rodrigo Duterte is a savvy tactician and had been dictating public discourse since he entered national politics. His opponents during the last elections and his critics now are simply reacting to whatever issue thrown out by the President. The opposition is still to raise new issues that would titillate the interest of the Filipino people. The intensified drug campaign that leads to alleged extra-judicial killings and the Marcos burial are issues that Duterte was transparent about since the start of his candidacy. And the Filipino nation voted him into office cognizant of his position on those issues.
The LP is one of the oldest political parties in the country, yet it is handling current issues like a rookie. The public is yet to hear counter-proposals to Pres. Duterte’s programs. The noise on EJK remains just like that, noise. Had the president’s critics picked a case and helped prosecute perpetrators to conviction, the Filipino people may understand what they are talking about. As it is, the Filipino people see these attacks as hollow pursuit of self-righteousness with the sole purpose of advancing the critics’ own interests.
The LP has to deal with several issues cropping up every day. The drug problem, unabated corruption, unaccounted relief funds, unresolved deaths of the SAF 44, and a lot more, would continue to hound the LP. Every time they yell to not forget the atrocities of Martial Law, the Filipino people need not look that far to remember the insensitivity and ineptness of their government. Thanks to them, the ordinary Filipino is continuously reminded of political hypocrisy.
Timing is also a matter that the opposition must consider. With Pres. Duterte barely six months in office, the opposition may not have enough ammunition against him yet. Rehashing issues when he was still mayor of Davao is easily parried by the Davaoenos themselves. In Erap’s time, it took at least two years before he was caught dipping in the cookie jar. By prematurely raising issues and without giving ample opportunity to the sitting government to do its work, the opposition is giving the President an excuse on why he may not be able to finish his war on drugs on time.
The opposition, however, has no choice but to intensify its attacks on the President no matter how flimsy the bases are. They cannot afford Bongbong Marcos’ electoral protest against VP Robredo to catch up with their plans. Otherwise, Plan B would be put to naught.
VP Robredo has to realize that the level of political awareness is far different than it was 30 years ago. The Filipino nation is tired of politicians’ double talk. They wanted results, and not well-crafted press releases. With the proliferation of social media, access to information is no longer limited to traditional press. The resurgence of BBM’s supporters and contempt for the “truth” peddled by the LP is proof of it.
Notably, supporters of Pres. Duterte are from a different spectrum of our society, proof that the Filipino people no longer base their opinion from limited sources. In fact, it was Duterte supporters who needed to be unified. And they are mammoth, unlike the opposition who are the same people shouting the same tune for that last 30 years. The only difference is that their number is dwindling. Indeed, there are no different voices in their midst that VP Robredo needed to unite. VP Robredo and the LP desperately need to create new messages, not rehashed statements of Cory Aquino three decades ago.
Eubert Marc T. Hilario, Esq., is admitted to the Philippine Bar and the New York State Bar. He obtained a Master of Laws Program from the Villanova University School of Law, in Pennsylvania, USA, and law degree from the San Beda College of Law. He may be reached at [email protected]