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Forecasting the 2019 campaign




Tonyo Cruz

Tonyo Cruz

It is too early to tell the possible outcome of the elections. But based on the previous election cycles since the time of Joseph Estrada, we could safely guess that the alliances and coalitions  are bound to shift in the coming weeks and months.

The Duterte-Arroyo-Marcos alliance seems confident that the public cash and ill-gotten loot they sit on are more than enough to secure a victory. Big Businesses remain quietly and discreetly in support of this ruling alliance, considering the immense profits they get from the generous tax breaks and pro-Big Business economic policies.

As to the big drug syndicates, even the police admits business has never been better. The so-called drug war have not made a considerable dent on their operations. We could only guess, they are happy under the Duterte-Arroyo-Marcos alliance.

But even though they won’t admit it, there are cracks within the pro-Duterte parties. PDP-Laban has two factions. And the Hugpong continues to raid its ranks. They cannot agree on a slate of 12 senatorial candidates. Having 14 candidates for 12 positions could mean two things: The administration parties cannot control the candidates; and the candidates would fight among themselves who would be the final 12 as the campaign formally starts early next year.

There’s also trouble on the local level. In many provinces, cities, and towns, both PDP-Laban and Hugpong compete for the same positions. We will see how they would be able to balance their contest on who’s more pro-Duterte, and the public’s disgust over issues such as inflation, corruption, and the failed anti-drug war.

Outside of the electoral intramurals, there could be surprises that could adversely affect the administration coalition. One of these possible surprises could come from The Hague, the headquarters of the International Criminal Court. If the ICC complaint against Duterte prospers between now and the elections, it could prove fatal not just to the pro-Duterte parties and candidates, but to their principal, President Duterte.

As for the opposition, the main parties have coalesced under OK, the cute acronym that stands for Oposisyon Koalisyon. It has been able to proclaim eight candidates. That leaves four slots open.

Right now, the opposition could possibly fare better and compete directly with the Duterte-Arroyo-Marcos alliance. Instead of mimicking PDP-Laban and Hugpong by selfishly deciding by themselves, OK could help pave the way for something grander than what it has right now. Vice President Leni Robredo has said something about OK being an inclusive alliance, and we should take her word for it. That means the broad united front should do everything possible to complete the slate, starting with the inclusion of Makabayan’s Neri Colmenares.

OK is risking giving the Duterte-Arroyo-Marcos alliance propaganda fodder about the opposition being fractious, and siding with the brutal anti-communism of Duterte. If OK is okay with the idea of uniting the majority of the people, it cannot ignore the fact that Colmenares (and the movement he represents)  are integral and essential forces working to defeat Duterte.

The broad united front is in a position to achieve electoral unity and probable victory, but only if OK, Makabayan, Movement Against Tyranny, Coalition for Justice, and other forces would set aside differences and focus on the prize. Their disunity would only benefit Duterte.

The opposition could take advantage of serious splits within the administration alliance where pro-Duterte candidates fight among themselves for the same posts, at both national and local levels.

The opposition should also look into preventing the worst anti-Duterte scums from taking advantage of the partylist system, and shield the genuine ones like Bayan Muna, ACT, Kabataan, Anakpawis, and Gabriela from the hysterical attacks from Inday Sara who wants to replace them with the likes of the disgraced former PCOO assistant secretary.

But the most important challenge now is finding and presenting the nation and the voters with a new narrative that would debunk Duterte’s “sirang place” narrative about drugs. The anti-Duterte opposition led by OK and Makabayan and the broad united front owes the public a compelling vision of divided government where oppositionists would hold more seats as the ideal outcome of the elections. Why should voters opt for a majority opposition Senate? What would be different? Why should voters bother to unseat pro-Duterte reelectionists, and reject those attempting a political comeback?

Is “less evil” enough? Maybe not.

The new narrative must capture the imagination and trust of voters who are looking for solutions to economic, political, diplomatic, law and order crises that have marked the first two years of Duterte. The people deserve something more. They will accept nothing less.

Follow me on Twitter @tonyocruz and check out my blog







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