Halalan 2019: A Post-Mortem

Different strategies and issues have been brought up during the 2019 Midterm Elections. One of the Opposition's strategy is blaming the administration on the water crisis. 

The highly anticipated midterm election under the Duterte administration took place on May 13. Candidate surveys showed the administration candidates taking the lead across the country. It was more question of ranking in the magic 12 than if they would win.

The administration put out two Senatorial slates which were a first in political history. The combined slate had a total of thirteen candidates. The PDP-Laban only put up five candidates while the newly formed Hugpong ng Pagbabago had eight.

The President ended up pitting PDP against HNP in certain localities. This was the result of the mass defection of Liberal Party members to the PDP-Laban early on in the administration and the forging of alliances by HNP with provincial political parties. For the first time in history again, the national political parties played almost no role in the conduct of the local polls.

The opposition could only muster a slate of eight because of their depleted ranks. Their strategy was to diminish and sway public opinion against the President. They didn't have an alternative platform since Duterte assumed office. Instead, they focused on ousting him through any means.

Impeachment didn't prosper. The Philippines withdrew from the International Criminal Court as a result of the information being filed by Sen. Antonio Trillanes against the President. The negative media campaign at the local and international level continued. Rappler, Vera Files, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism all came out with exposés against the President, his family and government officials identified with him. They didn't even bother to conceal that it was a demolition job meant to discredit him.

The opposition was being more populist in the debates held by the broadcast networks to give the people an insight into their platforms and stands on key issues. What emerged was an approach designed to win back voters quickly.  

They were for the abolition of parts of or the TRAIN Law altogether. They blamed the emerging power crisis and the current water crisis on the present administration. The same was true with the drug war deaths, the alleged human rights violations against members of leftist-militant groups and its litany of other issues related to the President's foreign policy shift to China.

The unofficial partial returns to date show the opposition losing badly to the administration. It doesn't appear that any opposition candidate will make it into the Senate. The opposition had been counting on the youth and millennial vote to put them over the top. Their logic was half of the voting population is composed of this demographic and 20M votes would allow them to sweep the administration candidates.

The strategy didn't work. It didn't help their cause also that someone released a video series which claimed the presidential family was protecting drug lords. The opposition called for an investigation again. Majority of the public saw through it as another publicity stunt in the same manner as the West Philippine Sea protest action the opposition-held at Masinloc, Zambales where they posed on a jet ski in an apparent reference to then-candidate Duterte's promise to ride one to the Spratlys to plant the Philippine flag.

Even with this impending defeat, the opposition still hasn't stepped out of their echo chamber. They're now claiming fraud saying that the vote was rigged in favor of the administration. They're not even mindful that the President's job approval rating was at an all-time high again of 81% just before the election. The Presidential endorsement had a substantial effect in voter conversion. He also campaigned hard for his candidates joining them in major campaign sorties throughout the country. 

The opposition faces even bleaker prospects going into the 2022 election where the Presidency will be at stake again. For one, they don't have a viable candidate. Mar Roxas suffered another loss in his Senatorial bid. Vice-President Leni Robredo is only popular with opposition supporters and has no drawing power with the majority.

Political strategist Manuel Quezon III is floating the name of Jose Manuel Diokno and Sen. Panfilo Lacson as possible options for 2022. It remains to be seen also if the coalition with the leftist-militant groups will hold as there were disagreements over the final slate in the last week before the election as there were some Liberal Party honchos who wanted Neri Colmenares out because the Makabayan group didn't include Mar Roxas in their sample ballot.

The opposition will have to adopt a critical collaboration policy with the administration if their goal is to fiscalize and win public support to their cause. But from their actions just two days after the election, it appears that they will continue with the same strategy.

Einstein defined stupid as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome each time.

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About the Author
RG is a seasoned international trade and sales and marketing professional who also dabbles in writing. He was a contributor to Business World in the mid-90s and is also a tech geek.
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