The State of the Opposition

Can the Opposition achieve their success this 2019 Midterm Elections especially that they are betting on the youth and millennial votes to propel them to victory?

Post-Marcos Philippine politics has been tumultuous to say the least.

The first Aquino administration was rocked by coup attempts and open warfare between the Leftists and Rightists in Metro Manila. There were assassinations in broad daylight and kidnapping and torture as in the case of labor leader Rolando Olalia.

After Ramos won the Presidency, the situation stabilized. Ramos reached out to the Leftists, Rightists and the Marcos Loyalists. Peace and order were restored but the rise of the drug trade began during this period.

The political opposition worked with Ramos though their relationship was unwieldy at times especially when then Sen. Ernesto Maceda bared corruption scandals notably the PEA-Amari and the Centennial Expo anomalies. But there was no attempt to overthrow Ramos as President. These events fell into the category of normal politicking or business as usual in the Philippine political context.

The win of Joseph Estrada in 1998 meant that the opposition would have the opportunity to make a political comeback. 

Estrada had been one of the staunchest supporters of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. His ascent to the Vice-Presidency was sponsored by no less than Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., the primus inter pares among Marcos cronies.

Erap's term was to be short-lived as the negative media campaign against him began the moment he declared he was running and didn't stop until he was ousted in January 2001.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's term lasted for nine years. She was the pick of the opposition to succeed Erap having been anointed by no less than Cory Aquino, Jaime Cardinal Sin and Fidel Ramos.

But having broken with Cory she soon became the target of ouster plots herself. She remained in power because she learned from the lessons of how they were able to overthrow the Estrada government.

GMA kept the military and police officials loyal by appointing them to key posts while in active duty and giving them choice government posts upon retirement. This neutralized Ramos' influence on the police and the military and ensured GMA's hold on power.

Noynoy Aquino's term was free from any destabilization plots. The opposition cooperated with him from the beginning right after his proclamation as the winner of the 2010 election.

The opposition never resorted to any destabilization plots against Aquino. Neither was he the subject of any impeachment complaints in Congress despite the idea being floated after the DAP scandal and the Mamasapano incident.

Now that the shoe is on the other foot with the win of Rodrigo Duterte in 2016, the opposition now has been employing all efforts to oust him.

Duterte was magnanimous in victory. He extended the hand of cooperation to the opposition and asked them to help him in genuine nation-building during his first State of the Nation Address.

It wasn't a month that Congress reopened that Sen. Leila De Lima already began an inquiry into the drug war deaths tying it in with the case of the Davao Death Squad which she investigated as Chair of the Commission on Human Rights during the Arroyo administration.

Since then the opposition has adopted a scorched earth policy against the administration. This has led to an acrimonious relationship between themselves and has the public enthusiastically taking sides.

Unfortunately, the level of toxicity continues to increase because Duterte himself is no statesman by his own admission. He has lashed out at his critics in the vilest manner by cursing them in public and he has included the entirety of the Philippine Catholic Church in his diatribes.

The opposition has responded in kind by not sparing the President's extended family. A series of video exposés names the son, son-in-law, the brother of the son-in-law, the common-law wife and even the President's youngest daughter as receiving payoffs from drug syndicates.

The problem is, Duterte's teflon coating is such that his popularity hasn't even been dented and still remains at an all-time high. None of the opposition's charges have stuck because of the flimsiness of the evidence presented.

The midterm election is only eleven days away as this is being written and only two opposition candidates have a statistical chance of making it to the winning circle of twelve.

Compared to the past administrations, there has never been a time when support has been lowest for the opposition than the present one as even their former allies who won in 2016 have shunned them like lepers.

No one wants anything to do with them.

It doesn't help that the opposition Senatorial slate doesn't have a solid platform of governance to present to the public in the debates they have participated in since last year.

Their answers are mostly motherhood statements and fear-mongering with respect to the economy and the dispute with China over territories in the West Philippine Sea.

The opposition is betting on the youth and millennial votes to propel them to victory. The logic is if they're able to get a 20M share of the estimated 61M voting population for this election cycle, this would be enough to win eight out of the twelve slots.

Call it a longshot or even hoping against hope but the way it looks from an objective point of view is the opposition better ready itself for a mass extinction event on May 13.

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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