The people have spoken — overwhelmingly at that. Both Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte won by landslide margins of unprecedented historical proportions, such that continued sulking in some quarters about cheating, Smartmatic shortcomings, vote-buying, and assorted other electoral shenanigans might sadly begin to look to be just that — sulking. But with the opposition nearly obliterated at all electoral levels (for instance, only one opposition senatorial candidate won), it becomes imperative in the interest of upholding democracy for opposition-inclined forces to regroup rather than remain in a wound-licking mode. The starting point of a substantive regrouping would be a departure from a fixation on faultfinding and complaints, acceptance of realities, and surveying the lessons from this recent electoral debacle to thoughtfully draw a viable strategy moving forward. Here are some to consider:
1. Professional surveys are a good and quite accurate gauge of public sentiment. Treating them dismissively or demeaning their findings may prove self-delusional and counterproductive. The actual results of the presidential elections were 58.7 percent for Marcos Jr. and 28 percent for Vice President Leni Robredo. Pulse Asia had it at 56 percent vs. 23 percent, Publicus at 52 percent vs. 24 percent, and OCTA Research at 58 percent vs. 25 percent. Safeguarding the professionalism of surveys is a must.
2. Our local version of the War of the Roses may have already run its course. This 15th-century war raged in England for 30-plus years as the Royal Houses of Lancaster and York (symbolized by red and white rose badges respectively) fought over the control of England’s throne. Our local version has likewise raged for about 35 years between the political powerhouses of the families Aquino and Marcos (symbolized by the colors yellow and red respectively) over the presidency of the Philippines. For this recent election, the latter downplayed its color scheme and highlighted the theme of national unity as its principal campaign strategy, thus seeming to indirectly signal “enough already” with respect to this decades-old feud. The latter resorted to the tried and previously successful strategy of color identification (though switching from yellow to pink) reinforced with a reassembling of the compelling elements and narrative of the Edsa peaceful revolution. Their massive rallies were an impressive sea of pink. In contrast, their rival’s rallies featured masses of people waving handheld Philippine flags. The election results may warrant a soul searching amongst the opposition on whether or not a color identification-based campaign may now be seen as divisive rather than attractive, whether the “war of the roses” scenario has become tiresome to the majority, and whether the time has come for a fresh start.
3. There still appears to be no such thing as a Catholic bloc vote. More vigorous attempts this time by Church leaders to assemble one for the recent elections may have run the risk of making the Church appear excessively partisan and out of touch with the priority yearnings of its flock. It could be that the majority do not favor seeing the Church appear to be an instrument of one political party rather than a beacon of light for the entire citizenry. There may also have been a mistaken interpretation by the church of the lglesia ni Cristo’s political success, whose starting point is an already well-developed politically enticing bloc and then approaching conclusion by going with the flow, as it were, before endorsing a candidate after careful observation of which candidate is most likely to win. The process usually doesn’t start by preselecting a candidate or political party to support. In any case, it may be that the political involvement of the Church may best be applied via lessons to the faithful on discernment, vigorous upholding of and education on Christian values, and defense of the moral compass of the nation against the rising tide of radical Western wokeness.
The foregoing are observations, not prescriptions. But for the sake of maintaining our chosen democratic system of government, we must have a vigorous “Loyal Opposition.” Opposition elements must arise from the stupor of lamenting the past and dwelling on what might have been, regroup, and positively move on.
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Roberto F. de Ocampo, OBE, is a former finance secretary and was named Finance Minister of the Year in 1995, 1996, and 1997.
Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club ([email protected]).
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