The scene, playing out Sunday in the central district of Pasig, from past noon through the evening, should be either encouraging or worrisome, depending on which side of the electoral divide you’re on:
Rallyists collecting in a huge flood in the same place, at the same time, for the same cause, neither paid nor herded, but coming of their own volition – and wearing their heart on their sleeve!
The police counted 130,000 of them, but, as police and other official counts go, of opposition crowds in particular, you can bet tens of thousands have been left out, which makes for about the standard ratio of the uncounted to the official count. Still, the gathering, even at that much minimized size, cannot be less than a phenomenon, and especially not at this time. I can think of three things right off militating against joining such a gathering:
One, the pandemic having only begun to ease after a deadly run of two years, the anxiety over it couldn’t have been so soon overcome by any eagerness to rejoin the world outside, where the virus precisely floats around in wait to be caught.
Two, the lockdowns must have provided occasions for rediscovering the virtues of domesticity.
Three, homeyness could only have been further encouraged by a technology that, through the mobile phone and other similar devices of modern living, allows for socializing outside without having to leave home; the technology, moreover, assures security in anonymity while participating in risky or awkward situations.
But safety, security, and convenience all put together are still outweighed apparently by a sense of urgency, one having to do with the prospect of the high-handed, treasonous, and corrupt regime of Rodrigo Duterte continuing, after exiting at midyear, through a surrogate.
And for surrogate he couldn’t have made a more predictable pick: Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the dictator, whose burial as a hero he had sponsored early in his presidency as proof of his undying idolatry of him. Don’t let their publicized spats fool you: Ferdinand Jr. has always been his boy. It was no Freudian slip that in the campaign of 2016 he blurted out the wish that Ferdinand Jr. were his running mate, not the official one, Alan Cayetano, who has chosen to live through the humiliation.
The next presidency may not be for Duterte to decide, but the power inherent in incumbency, in his hands, will doubtless be deployed to the utmost for his chosen one. And in a marriage of dynasties and for additional insurance, his daughter Sara has been fielded as Ferdinand Jr.’s running mate.
Their tandem has led consistently in the polls, but, with that massive march, they cannot be too sure. And neither can the pollsters now make any credible claim to reliability. Unsurveyed sentiments have broken out screaming for the same candidate who, coming from a rating of nothing but displaying qualities that inspire groundswells, defeated Marcos, then also the consistent frontrunner, for vice president.
That was, of course, Leni Robredo. And, as seems the nature of her runs, she began to hit her stride only recently. At first unsure about running, she declared only in November and had not begun campaigning until it was legally allowed – from only last month. Marcos and Duterte themselves had, for all intents and purposes, declared much earlier, doing so flagrantly there was no mistaking they had begun campaigning, but escaping sanctions from a Commission on Elections pleading inutility and blaming laws lacking teeth, as usual.
The aggressiveness may not have been aimed at a particular rival initially, but not anymore. The target is all too obvious in at least two tactics: the vandalization of campaign displays for Robredo and the vicious trolling against her – a study shows her to be the chief victim of fake news and other manufactured falsehoods, and Marcos the chief beneficiary. The irony is that he’s trying, using his own lies, to put himself together again, after having been knocked to pieces by the truth – his own part in his parents’ conjugal dictatorship of torture, murder, and plunder and his and his mother’s criminal convictions. If he looks whole still, it’s a mere illusion, projected through lies.
With Robredo steadily gaining, bandwagon-fashion, she can only expect more vicious, even desperate, attacks. After all, she’s up against not only a conspiracy of homegrown dynasties and gangs, but a world power that, thanks to Duterte, has gained an expeditionary foothold in our territory.
But they all better not misread Sunday. Nothing like it has occurred in more than a generation. By size and fervor alone, it has the makings of something transcending partisan politics, of another people-power rising, indeed. And, with the right lessons learned and a staying power developed, it could just lead to the establishment of a People Power Center as an added institutional reinforcement of democracy.
But, in order to get such an enterprise set up, never mind going yet, for now, a rallying figure is needed, someone tested enough for character and leadership qualities to not mind, once elected, being tested further by a veritable shadow government.
And if not Leni Robredo, who? – Rappler.com