Let’s admit that the odds are not in the favor of the current administration’s critics. One can’t help but be a pessimist with how things are going for the opposition’s side. Lest we forget, for example, not a single member of the opposition-backed slate clinched a seat in the immediate past election of 2019. In addition, President Rodrigo Duterte remains on top with high approval and trust rating. His critics may easily dismiss these ratings, but one thing they cannot deny is the daunting task of winning the 2022 election.
Considering that the political machinery and unwavering supporters of the incumbent administration remain strong, the upcoming 2022 elections will surely be an uphill battle. It bears emphasizing that, if the opposition wants to win, tons of efforts are required to overturn the charismatic leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The Opposition’s Current Scenario
Despite the obvious disadvantage faced by the opposition, we cannot discount the possibility of turning the tides in favor of the President’s critics. To begin with, numerous people lost their jobs and many of our fellowmen are dissatisfied with how things are handled at the height of the pandemic. This can be a gateway for the opposition to take the lead. Some of the opposition leaders from various cities and municipalities already performed well at the height of COVID-19 pandemic. People noticed it. With that, the hope for a complete overhaul from the 2019 national elections is doable.
Not long ago, a coalition of the President’s dissenters formed the group called 1Sambayan. The loose alliance demands for a new name to lead us come 2022. Leaders of the pack include retired Justice Antonio Carpio, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and erstwhile Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario. They are mostly from esteemed institutions. Their peers in the group are also equally intelligent and passionate about their causes. Unfortunately, most people who are aware of these leaders are limited to some circles such as the legal community and the academe.
What needs to be done?
1Sambayan is aware that, in order for the opposition to win, there must be a consolidation of forces from various groups.
To be effective, the coalition must tap various stakeholders such as the urban poor, the youth, persons with disabilities, and other sectors often neglected by established leaders. If marginalized sectors are already part of their league, we think, they have to step up. Frankly, we can’t feel other sectors that need to have a voice. We cannot waste the undiscovered talents and possible contributions that other opposition groups can bring to the table.
The opposition must also mobilize and protect their voters. Furthermore, 1Sambayan should consider veering away from their tendencies that sound elite for ordinary people. They have to descend to a conversation that an ordinary person can relate to and understand. Otherwise, there will be a problem in their political and campaign discourse. This is a gap between the constituency and the leaders that President Aquino failed to address. No wonder the “ordinary Filipino” rhetoric of the Duterte administration still works to this day. If 1Sambayan continues to campaign inside their bubble, all their efforts will be futile.
The opposition’s endorsement and strategy
It seems that the opposition is weighing its options. As they should, the choice must be a strong contender. He or she must be appealing enough to tilt the balance in favor of the opposition. For now, familiar names float among the possible choices. There’s Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Grace Poe, Senator Nancy Binay, former Senator Antonio Trillanes and even one-term Mayor Isko Moreno. It’s too early to tell who among these options will get the endorsement of 1Sambayan. We can only hope that whoever will be fielded in the election arena will have enough prowess to consolidate the opposition.
Speaking of endorsement, we need to scrutinize the vouching power of 1Sambayan that can make a difference on the Election Day. How much of an impact can legal stalwarts like Justice Carpio and Ombudsman Morales make? How about the rest of their members? Only time will tell. Nonetheless it’s certain that they will bring votes or flip undecided voters. The question is “how many supporters can they attract?”
The greatest realization must dawn upon the opposition. Their efforts will turn into fruition when they have gathered all sectors and unite different factions that are critics of the Duterte administration. If that happens, there can be a shot to a new leadership that will gather Filipinos into a common goal. For now, it seems to me that the opposition must recalibrate their style. They should do it fast or else they will suffer the same fate as the 2019 National Elections.